Introduction: Christmas Stocking Cake
When I saw the baking challenge, I knew I had to come up with something fun to enter. This cake is half gingerbread cake and half eggnog cake, with eggnog cream cheese frosting and eggnog buttercream.
My kitchen is pretty small. My wall oven died a several years ago and replacing it would mean a kitchen remodel. So, I bake in a toaster oven. And, you'll notice in some of the photos a hand mixer, I have yet to get myself a quality stand mixer. But, this has taught me patience and resilience. So, if I can make this cake with my equipment, you can make it too!
Step 1: Gingerbread Cake
I found this recipe on Pinterest from everydaymadefresh.com, but I only used the cake recipe.
Gingerbread Cake with Maple Cream Cheese
2 sticks butter, room temperature (can microwave on Defrost in :30 intervals until just soft to the touch)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup molasses
2 eggs room temperature (can put in a bowl of luke warm water to bring eggs to room temperature)
1 1/4 cup milk
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1 1/2 teaspoons ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
Cake Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray on 9x13 pan, cut and insert parchment and set aside.
**HINT** I use Wilton's Cake Release spray, it works much better than anything else. Plus, I use parchment paper to cover the bottom of all my pans. Press the paper into the pan making sure to give a good crease to the edges of the pan. Remove and cut off the excess except for a few tabs around the pan that can be used to lift the cake out.
In a medium bowl mix together the flour, cinnamon, all spice, ginger, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, attached to a stand mixer, cream the butter for two minutes. Add the sugar and brown sugar, cream for two full minutes until nice and fluffy.
Add the molasses and the egg. Beat until fully incorporated. With the mixer on low, alternate adding the flour mix and the milk. Starting and ending with the flour mix. Mix until incorporated, careful not to over beat.
Pour evenly into the cake pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out clean. **I like to turn my cake 180 degrees for more even baking, but again, I'm baking in a toaster oven.
Allow to completely cool before frosting.
Step 2: Spiked Eggnog Cake
This recipe also was found on Pinterest, from livforcake.com. Her recipe includes white chocolate ganache, which I did not include in my cake.
Spiked Eggnog Cake
INSTRUCTIONS Eggnog Cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg ground
1/4 tsp cinnamon ground
1/2 cup unsalted butter room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar packed
2 large eggs room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup eggnog room temperature
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp rum
1 cup unsalted butter room temperature 6 oz cream cheese full fat, room temperature 3 cups powdered sugar 1 tsp vanilla 1/2 tsp nutmeg * ground, optional 3 oz white chocolate chopped 1 oz heavy whipping cream 1.
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour (spray with Wilton's Cake Release) three 6" cake rounds, line with parchment. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside. Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (I only have a hand mixer, so no paddle attachment), beat butter until smooth. Add sugars and beat on med-high until pale and fluffy (2-3mins). Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time, fully incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla and rum, if desired. Alternate adding flour mixture and eggnog, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of eggnog). Fully incorporating after each addition. Do not overmix. Spread batter evenly into prepared pans. I like to use a 1/2 cup measuring cup to distribute the batter more evenly. Smooth the tops with a spatula.
Step 3: Cutting and Stacking the Cake
After I allow the cakes to cool to room temperature, I like to stick them in the freezer for a few minutes. This makes trimming the cake easier. I trimmed the top off each half, being careful to try to keep it all level. Then, I used a piece of parchment paper to give me a line to cut the gingerbread cake in half. In one of the photos, you'll see a smear of frosting on the gold cake board... this is just to keep the cake in place. Place one half of the gingerbread cake on the board making sure to place it where you want it. The cake was nice and moist, but I decided to give a brush of spiced rum to the top of the cake, this just locks in moisture and gives a kick of flavor. For most cakes, a simple syrup is used. Then, I filled a piping bag, using tip #12, with the eggnog cream cheese frosting (see next step).**HINT** use a convenient store plastic cup to hold the decorating bag while you fill it by folding the open top over the edge of the cup**
Begin by piping a line around the perimeter of the cake, then pipe lines back and forth inside the perimeter...this does not have require neatness!. Using a spatula, spread the piped lines evenly. Then, place the second gingerbread half on top of the frosting, and repeat the frosting layer.
I used a 6"cake board that has a pre-cut center hole to put on the the frosted gingerbread stacks. This not only separates the two flavors, it also adds stability to the cake by keeping the top layers from sinking/sliding and tilting. I pushed a dow rod down through the hole in the 6" board down through the two layers of gingerbread cake.
After trimming the tops off the three eggnog cakes and giving each a brush of rum, it's time to stack them. Carefully pick one up, trying to find the center as close as you can -doesn't have to be perfect- and gently slide it down over the dow and onto the board. Use the same piping technique as before, making a perimeter and filling with rings then spreading evenly. Repeat with the next two layers.
At this time, trim what ever you want off the cake. I trimmed the gingerbread layers vertically into more of an oval shape,giving more of a stocking/boot shape.
Once every cake layer is stacked and frosted, it's now time to crumb coat (lock in the crumbs so they don't come through to the outer layer of frosting) the whole cake. Pipe vertical lines from bottom to top and back, then smooth it all out using a spatula with an offset handle. The offset handle just keeps you from running your knuckles through the icing.
You can leave the cake sit out of the way at this point, but I like to put it in the refrigerator. The frosting will lock in the loose crumbs and get a crystallized coating, which is exactly what you want. Let the cake chill while you move to the next step and make the puppy for the top.
Step 4: Eggnog Cream Cheese Frosting
This is the frosting recipe that accompanies the eggnog cake recipe from the previous step.
I used this frosting between each layer of cake, as well as the crumb coat.
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
6 oz cream cheese full fat, room temperature
3 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp nutmeg * ground, optional
Spiced Rum, optional
Beat butter and cream cheese until fluffy (2 mins). Add powdered sugar one cup at a time. Add vanilla & nutmeg and beat until fluffy (3 mins). I added Captain Morgan's Spiced Rum, about 3 tsp, when I added the vanilla. I wanted to taste the rum without it being overpowering.
Step 5: Puppy Topper
The puppy is made of rice cereal treats and modeling chocolate. I used the recipe on the cereal box, but cut it in half since I didn't need a bunch of the treats. After it's set for a while and feels somewhat firm, remove some from the pan and begin to shape it into the shape of the puppy's head and front legs. The cereal treats sometimes fall apart, so I put it in the fridge for a little while.
littledelightscakes.com is where I found the modeling chocolate recipe.
Modeling chocolate is made from one bag of candy melts and 1/3 cup light corn syrup. Melt the candy pieces in the microwave, :30 at a time and stirring each time. Then add the corn syrup and stir quickly, you will see the chocolate start to firm up almost immediately, keep stirring until completely combined. Place in a plastic bag and let sit over night. Sometimes the chocolate seems a little oily right after I mix it but it usually absorbs overnight. If I need to use the chocolate immediately I add a little corn starch or powdered sugar. I dumped the modeling chocolate out on parchment mat, but corn starch on a flat surface works too. I used parchment paper on top of the modeling chocolate and rolled it out with a rolling pin.
I took the rice cereal puppy head from the fridge and carefully laid the rolled while modeling chocolate over the top and began shaping it around the rice cereal form, adding a concave shape for a mouth. I used black candy melts for the black modeling chocolate. I rolled it out the same way and cut out ear shapes, plus two more rolled pieces to cover the cereal treat legs. The ears are attached by a touch of water. I also rolled two very small pieces of black chocolate into equal ball then pressed them on the face as eyes. Two tiny balls of white are used to make the white dots on the eyes. Pink candy melts were used to make the tongue.
Step 6: Finishing the Cake
I use Wilton's buttercream recipe, but tweaked it for this cake.
1 cup shortening (or 1/2 cup shortening and 1/2 cup butter)
1 tsp spiced rum (1 tsp vanilla is traditional recipe)
2 Tbsp eggnog (water or milk is traditional)
4 Cups powdered sugar.
Mix the shortening, rum and eggnog until smooth and creamy. Begin sifting the powdered sugar, one cup at a time, into the mixing bowl. Mix on low to start so powdered sugar doesn't fly everywhere, but you might have to mix on a higher level to keep from burning up your mixer. Add a combination of more rum, eggnog or water (to your taste) as you go. When the icing starts forming crumbles, it's time for more liquid.
When the icing is still in a pretty stiff consistency, begin adding the food color. USE GEL COLORS (found in grocery, big box and craft stores)... the old school liquid can add unwanted liquid to the icing and drastically change the consistency. I want a nice red, and thanks to Pastry Chef Sherry Yard's tip, adding a bit of brown helps make it more red than pink! So, start with red and mix until well incorporated. Then add a drop of brown and mix well. I had to add a lot more red and a couple more drops of brown before I was satisfied.
Leaving a little space at the very top that will be covered last, begin icing the cake. Instead of piping the red on as I did earlier, I used the offset spatula to put "globs" of icing on the cake and smoothed it out, covering the entire cake. A nice trick to get smooth buttercream is to use a sheet of Viva paper towels. Viva is the only brand that will do this. Gently place the paper towel on the cake and use a fondant smoother (or your hand if your careful to not push the frosting around) and lightly run the fondant smoother over the paper towel. Continue all the way around. As this is supposed to look like a filled stocking, I didn't want it completely smooth.
With the eggnog cream cheese frosting that was left from the crumb coating, pipe on the fluffy top. There's really no technique, just make it look fluffy.
I used a toothpick to insert half way into the bottom of the puppy head and pushed it gently into the top of the cake. Once I liked where the head was placed, I raised it back up slightly and placed the front legs under the head and placed the head back down. Then I randomly put the candy canes into the cake.
Because there is eggnog in the frosting, the cake needs to be kept cool until it's ready to be served.
Thanks for checking out my cake! I hope you enjoyed it, I certainly enjoyed making it!
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