Baking away from home

We were away from home all weekend, up visiting family for Thanksgiving weekend. And because of the timing, the family also had a little birthday celebration for my youngest son, who will be turning four on the 13th of this month.

Afterall, it isn't often we are all together in one location, the 3 siblings, with their children.

(I'm sure this next part will make some people laugh, but most "bloggers" nod in agreement.)

While packing up for the trip, I not only made sure to pack the kids lots of clean clothes, made sure we all had toothbrushes (though mine got helpfully unpacked by a child trying to help Mommy clean up the bathroom.) I also packed my stand mixer, along with some round cake pans, a couple of recipes, and my yeast. If I was going to be doing any baking for my family, I needed my essential tools! (The yeast was for a batch of focaccia bread I made to go with Thanksgiving dinner.)

Saturday morning I was up early, though not as early as usual since my children were visiting their grandparents and getting them up early. I decided to tackle the cake to be part of the thanksgiving/birthday celebration the next night. I had brought with me a recipe for a chocolate cupcake that I had read recently on the Canadian Baker's blog, which I wanted to try in cake form.

First off I should have also brought some cocoa with me as I have no idea how old the cocoa was from my grandmother's cupboard. Using her cocoa, I forged ahead with the recipe. I started out with one batch, poured them into the pans and instantly decided that would not be enough batter for a two layer cake. So I made second batch and got them both in the oven. Oddly, the batches ended up different colors. Since I had put 2/3 of the batter from the first in one pan, then the balance in the other, before I made the second then repeated, I ended up having cake that was two toned chocolate. I don't know if anyone else noticed it, but I certainly did.

The next morning I tackled the icing. I had the recipe with me for the chocolate butter cream, but the birthday boy had specified he wanted vanilla icing on his cake (and his cupcakes next weekend too), so I had to wing it. I knew I would need more than the recipe provided, even with adding additional icing sugar to make up for taking out the chocolate. What I ended up doing was creaming a full pound of room temperature butter, then adding in a full 1 kg bag of icing sugar with a bit of milk and some vanilla. Voila, buttercream icing. Way more butter cream icing than I would need for this cake! So I brought the rest home to use later in the week when I am making cupcakes for the birthday party (sorry, there will not be a recipe - the 4 year old has asked for cake mix, and since these little kids are known for not eating much of their cupcakes, I have agreed, which is why I had to have this one as homemade.)

After icing the cake, I put two boys in charge of decorating it: 14 year old uncle and 7 year old brother. Uncle had chose Skittles for the decoration motif and the two of them patterned their way around the edges, added a few on top to go with their pattern, then dotted the sides with the remainder. I added the red icing ribbon and the Happy Birthday on top.

I was disappointed with how dry the cake turned out, figure it was much better as cupcakes, but the children were all quite happy with it, including the birthday boy who frequently eats the icing but little actual cake. Some of the adults added whipped cream to their pieces, but gladly gave up their Skittles to the children. I gave up my Skittles but left the whipped cream for the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie.

Hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend!

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