Saturday, April 7, 2012

Peep Cake

I was flipping through my Food Network Magazine and I came across it - a giant Peep Duck cake.  I freaked out! I showed it to my sisters and they loved it.  I said I had to make it for Easter dessert.  When I showed it to my mom she thought it was adorable....and then when I said I wanted to make it for Easter, she said she loves what we always have.  So how could I say no to that?  I do love the Icebox Cake - Easter is the only time we have it (although this year I'm hoping that I don't have what happened last Easters Cookie Cake happen this year).  Who would take this cake from me?!  I spent weeks thinking about it and then during one of my chats with a taste tester, she mentioned that she would happily take it for her family's Easter Dinner.  I was so excited!! Someone was going to take it! Now the real question was, could I actually make it look like a duck?

All of my friends wished me luck.  I started baking the cakes and was so nervous when it was time to shape it.  Could I really make it look as good as the picture? I was going with no since the bowls I had were slightly smaller than the ones they used, but I have to say, he came out really close once I had him assembled.

naked duck
Time to frost.  This is what it was really going to come down to.  My ability to make something pretty, which lets face it, has never been one of my strong points when it comes to cakes.  I make the frosting and get down to work.  He ended up looking like a short, chubby duck, but kind of precious none the less. 

My issue came to be my finishing work.  I couldn't get all of the sugar to stick in all the places.  But thankfully it didn't look so bad.  (In person he is adorable).  I couldn't wait to get him to my friend's house.  I was teetering on the line of will she like it?  Or will she be horrified by it?  She loved it.  We named him Stanley, mainly because he's short and chubby and kind of looks like an old man. I was so happy she liked both desserts I brought for her and her family.  Best Easter Desserts Ever :)

Peep Cake

For the Cake:
butter and flour for the pans
2 18.25 oz boxes of yellow cake mix, plus required ingredients

For the frosting and decorations:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
3 large egg whites
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1 tsp yellow food coloring
yellow sanding sugar, for coating
2 small chocolate disks (such as melting wafers)

  1. Butter and flour a 9x13 inch cake pan and a 1 quart and 2 1/2 quart ovenproof bowls.  Make both cake mixes; divide the batter among the pan and bowls.  Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick comes out clean, about 35 minutes for the pan and small bowl, and 50 minutes for the large bowl.
  2. Let the cakes cool 15 minutes in the pan and bowls, then unmold onto racks to cool completely.  Trim the flat sides of the bowl cakes with a serrated knife to make level.  Using a chef's knife, cut the 4 corners off the rectangular cake; set aside 3 of the cake triangles for the tail and beak.
  3. Put the flat cake on a cake board or platter; use toothpicks to attach 2 cake triangles to a short end for the tail.  Position the large bowl cake on the flat cake at opposite end of tail, then place small bowl on top; insert a skewer through the cakes to secure.  Trim another cake triangle to make a beak; attach to the small bowl cake with a toothpick.
  4. Make the frosting: Heat the sugar with the cream of tartar, salt and 2/3 cup water in a saucepan, stirring, until dissolved.  Beat the egg whites with a mixer until frothy.  Slowly beat in the hot sugar mixture, then increase the mixer speed and beat until stiff peaks form, about 7 minutes.  Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts and the food coloring.
  5. Cover the cake with a thick layer of the yellow frosting, using the frosting to sculpt a rounded chick shape.  With the edge of an offset spatula, use some frosting to extend the beak and tail. 
  6. Coat the cake with yellow sanding sugar.  Refrigerate, uncovered, 15 minutes.  Press the chocolate disks into the frosting for eyes.  Remove the skewer and toothpicks as you cut the cake.

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