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      RECIPE TITLE "It's a baby cake" from Sweet Celebrations: The Art of Decorating Beautiful Cakes Copyright © 1999 by Sylvia Weinstock

    yieldsServes 15 to 20 timeThis cake can be baked, filled, and iced in 1 day; or prepared in stages as early as 3 days ahead.difficultymoderate

    When I think of a baby, I think of a quilt, blocks, and toys in shades of pastel blues, pinks, yellows, or greens. These soft colors always seem to recall the nursery. This is one of the easiest cakes to make, especially when you use letters or numbers, the baby's name, or the date of birth on the blocks. These blocks also remind me of the baby name bracelets that hospitals place on the baby's wrist. I have three tiny pink ones, one for each of my daughters, and I treasure them. You can string the blocks out like a bracelet, or stack them.

    This cake works for a baby shower, but it could also be used for a christening, or a birthday for a baby or a toddler. Taken a step further, the cake could be a symbol for building blocks. Just change the colors and customize the message or logo, and it could be used at a corporate party. Two squares make dice -- any gamblers here?

    Hints: This cake is designed with 2 blocks side by side supporting a third block on top. The 3 blocks serve 12 to 15 people; however, you will have enough cake to make a fourth block to fill, ice, and use to serve extra guests or send home with the guest of honor.

    This cake is an exception to the "trim first" rule. This time you slice and fill first and trim later. If you choose to make a bracelet, you may want to round the corners slightly, and use all of the blocks instead of just 3.

    When you color the buttercream, start with tiny amounts of gel coloring; your objective is to create soft, baby pastels.

    When it is time to pipe letters and numbers on the blocks, make sure the cakes are cold. Then if you make a mistake writing, it will be easy to remove the decoration with an offset spatula and begin again. If the cakes are too warm, you risk ruining your smooth icing work.

    This cake needs square edges, so the chocolate fudge cake or classic yellow cake would work very well. Fillings should be stable to keep the layers flat; try the orange or basic buttercream filling with the chocolate fudge cake, or chocolate or mocha buttercream filling with the classic yellow cake. If you want to use fresh raspberries with the vanilla or chocolate buttercream filling, I suggest pushing them into the filling to keep the layers even.


    Special Equipment

    Two 8 x 8 x 3-inch square cake pans
    Four 8 x 8-inch square cake cardboards
    Four 4 x 4-inch square pieces cake cardboard
    Turntable
    Ruler
    Pencil
    14-inch serrated knife
    Standing electric mixer
    Two 4 1/2-quart bowls
    Mixing bowls
    10-inch icing spatula
    Two pastry brushes
    4-inch offset spatula
    Three #14 pastry bags
    Three sets couplings

    #789 icing tip
    #13 star tip
    #6 round tip

    Icing blade
    Damp kitchen towel


    Structural Support

    One 18-inch round cake board or platter


      RECIPE INGREDIENTS

    2 recipes Classic Yellow Cake (page 17)
    1 recipe Raspberry Wash (page 38)
    1 recipe Basic Buttercream Filling (page 31)
    1 cup fresh raspberries (optional)
    1 recipe Basic Buttercream Icing (page 28)

    Gel food colors to make:
    3 cups baby blue
    3 cups pale pink
    3 cups light yellow

      RECIPE METHOD

    0. Bake and cool, then trim only the tops and bottoms of the cakes, not the sides.
    1. Score and slice the layers at 1/2-inch intervals; you will have 3 to 4 slices from each 8-inch cake. Wrap and freeze any leftover cake.
    2. Apply the wash and fill the first 3 slices, pressing fresh raspberries into each layer. Place the fourth layer atop the third, pressing down gently to be sure the top of the cake is level. The cake should be about 4 inches tall. Chill for at least 1 hour.
    3. Lay the four 4 x 4-inch cardboard squares on top of the cake with the edges touching, being careful not to overlap.
    4. Score the top of the cake with the serrated knife in a cross fashion where the cardboard edges meet.
    5. Remove the cardboard pieces and cut the cake from top to bottom so that you have four 4-inch square blocks to give 4 blocks.
    6. Place a cardboard square on top of one block and use the cardboard as your guide to carefully trim the two brown sides of each cake with a serrated knife. Do your best to make the blocks perfectly square. Repeat for the other blocks.
    7. With an icing spatula, remove any excess buttercream filling that may have oozed out, and use a dry pastry brush to remove any excess crumbs. Dab a tablespoon of buttercream on each of the 4 squares of cardboard, and place a block of cake on each square. Crumb-coat the cakes (see page 14) and refrigerate for 1 hour.
    8. Fill 3 pastry bags with tinted buttercream, one each in pink, yellow, and blue.
    9. Remove 1 cake from the refrigerator. Using the #789 icing tip and the blue icing, hold the bag so that the serrated edge of the tip faces out. Pipe each side of the cake with 2 wide horizontal stripes across, each stripe just touching the next, to cover the sides of the cake. Repeat, using 3 stripes on top of the cake, so the entire cake is now covered in blue icing. Put a bead on each edge of the cake. Repeat with each block cake, using pink icing on one, yellow on the other.
    10. Using an icing blade, start with the top of the cake. Hold the blade at a 30-degree angle and, using almost no pressure, glide it over the top of the cake to smooth out the lines. Place any icing from the blade into a clean bowl. Wipe the blade with a clean, damp towel. Holding the clean blade at exactly the same angle, glide over the top of the cake in the opposite direction. This should remove any air bubbles. Again, clean the blade as above. Move to the sides of the cake, and this time hold the blade at a 45-degree angle with the bottom edge of the blade flat against the turntable. Glide first in one direction, clean the blade, then glide in the opposite direction. If there are holes or air bubbles in the icing, smooth them out with an offset spatula or an icing blade. If you make a hole, use some of the excess icing from the bowl to fill it.
    11. Using a 10-inch icing spatula, smooth the top of the cake. Holding the blade at a 30-degree angle, start at one corner of the cake and pass gently over the cake to flatten the top edges. Clean the blade and repeat with all 4 sides until the edges of the cake are square and smooth.
    12. At this point, the cake should be fairly smooth and square. Now go around the cake and remove any crumbs, smooth any repairs, and make sure the cake is completely square and smoothly iced.
    13. Slide a spatula or a knife blade under the cardboard base, pick up the blue cake, and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove the next block cake from the refrigerator and repeat using pink buttercream. Repeat with the third block cake and the yellow buttercream. Set aside the pastry bags containing leftover icing; you will use them again in Step 17.
    14. When all of the blocks are iced, place the pink cake off-center to the left on your cake base. Place the blue cake beside the pink, making sure one edge of the pink cake is 1/8 inch from the blue, angling the blocks away from each other. Place a teaspoon of buttercream icing on the corners closest to each other.
    15. Place the yellow cake on top of the two bottom cakes, using the two buttercream drops as glue to hold the top in place. It's okay to have a corner of the yellow block hanging off to one side, but not more than 2 inches.
    16. Using a knife or a skewer, lightly trace the "A," "B," and "C" on the 3 block faces. Change the tip on your bag to the #6 round tip fitted to the pink icing. Pipe a 2 1/2-inch "A" on the face of the yellow block. Switch to a #13 star tip. Trace the inner and outer edges of the "A" using a close, dragging pearl.
    17. With blue icing and the #6 round tip, pipe a 2 1/2-inch "B" on the face of the pink block. Change to the #13 star tip and trace around the inner and outer edges of your "B" using the dragging pearl technique.
    18. Using yellow icing and the #6 round tip, pipe a 21/2-inch "C" on the face of the blue block. Change to the #13 star tip and trace the inner and outer edges of the "C" using the dragging pearl technique.
    19. If you wish, you can repeat with other letters or numbers on the opposite face of each block, using the same colors and piping techniques as in Steps 17 through 19.
    20. When piping is completed, use the pink icing and the #13 star tip to pipe a dragging pearl border on all the edges of your pink block. Repeat this with the blue icing and the blue block, then the yellow icing and the yellow block.
    21. Refrigerate the cake until serving time.


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