You’ll have to allow me to take a few sentences to apologize for my long hiatus! My site was down for a while, I had to deal with end of the school year chaos, three birthday parties (including my son’s), driving my son to his grandparents in Michigan for a week, preparing him for summer vacation with his dad in Wisconsin, fulfilling my roll as bridesmaid in my dear friend’s wedding in Massachusetts (my family was also attending), and saying goodbye to my son for two months. Then of course, to relax, I partied for a couple of weeks when I returned home. Now the dust has finally settled and I can get back to having fun in the kitchen.
Every year, my son presents me with a birthday cake challenge. The first year it was a sonic cake, then last year minecraft, and this year (drum roll), a Pokémon Pokéball cake. I was excited, annoyed and nervous all the same time. This will be the second time that I’ll have to carve a sphere out of cake. I find carving spheres to be the bane of my existence. I made a soccer ball cake just over a year ago, and I swore to myself that I would never carve another sphere again, yet here I am.
For at least a week, I thought about buying one of those rounded cake pans that only require you to put the two halves together, but the masochist in me wanted the challenge of carving another sphere and tinting the cake layers to match the outside of the cake. Two weeks before the big day I began baking layers (from my favorite birthday cake recipe) and freezing them. I made about twelve in total, just in case. I borrowed a soccer ball from a co-worker for reference, and began carving two days before. The second time around wasn’t nearly as bad! It was still a challenge, the top was a little flat and it was a bit wide in the middle, but I was pretty happy with it. The part I really enjoyed was putting on the frosting. I found the best recipe ever for a chocolate fudge frosting. You basically make fudge and then mix it with confectioners’ sugar to make the frosting. It tasted just like canned fudge frosting, but in the best possible way.
This year I will admit to buying all of my fondant colors pre-made. I was really worried about my apartment being too warm and running into trouble kneading the fondant and having it fall apart. So I cranked up the AC and made sure that I didn’t handle the fondant too much. I eye-balled the stripes for the base “glued” the pieces to the cake board using a brush and a little water. Time to move on to the lettering.
I found a font online that matched the Pokémon font and cut the letters out of fondant with a regular exact-o knife.
I then “glued” the letters to the background with more water. Time for the hard part.
I’m not even sure what to say about covering the sphere. My idea was to cover the entire sphere with fondant, then add a red layer on top and cover the seam with black. I watched countless videos and scoured websites for instruction on covering a sphere with fondant. Unfortunately it didn’t help. I tried at least three times to cover the sphere completely, but either it broke apart, rippled, or fell apart some more. I finally gave up, turned the cake upside down and applied the fondant. I trimmed it about half way leaving space for the black strip (which I started calling a belt). I let cake sit upside down until I was confident that the fondant wouldn’t slide off and laid the red piece on top. I then made a little indentation in the cake that would allow me to even out the seams of the red and white pieces, also providing a nice guide for applying the belt. After a few more minutes of smoothing, laughing (and a little bit of swearing), I was ready to add the “buckle”. I cut out a series of circles with my cutters, glued them together and attached it to the cake. By 2am, the cake was complete and in the refrigerator.
My son was at a sleepover the night before, and I couldn’t wait for him to come home to see it. When he arrived home, I asked him to close his eyes, walked him to the refrigerator and slowly opened the door. His eyes widened as the door opened and his smile turned into a huge grin. Then he says, “looks great, but the button/buckle thing should be smaller”. As I was resisting the urge to choke him, he reassured me that he loved the cake, but was being super critical, because that’s how I am. Later at the party, his friends wanted to touch the cake and kept asking if a Pokémon was going to come out of it.
Chocolate Fudge Frosting
- 3 ½ cups confectioners’ sugar
- ½ cup cocoa powder (I used cocoa rouge)
- ½ cup (1 stick) butter, cut in half, and softened
- 1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup half and half
- 4 ounces dark chocolate , chopped
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sift together the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa. Heat 4 tablespoons butter, brown sugar, salt, and ½ cup half and half in a large saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until small bubbles appear around perimeter of pan, 4 to 8 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens slightly and turns deep golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Slice remaining butter into 4 pieces and stir in with the remaining half and half. Add the chopped chocolate and the vanilla and stir until smooth. Slowly whisk in the confectioners’ sugar and cocoa until incorporated. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Refrigerate for 30 to 40 minutes until the frosting reaches the desired spreading consistency.
Adapted from Sifting Focus