Monday, April 16, 2012

Hungry Caterpillar Cake

My nephew recently turned 1, and my love-in-law, Aimee, decided to have a theme of The Very Hungry Caterpillar for the party.  If you haven't read the book, it's the adventure of a caterpillar who eats various things, including pears, strawberries, lollipops and chocolate cake before eating a leaf, forming a cocoon and turning into a beautiful butterfly.  Eric Carle's illustrations are fun and it's a cute read for children.

Aimee's skills are amazing, and made an entire spread based off of the foods in the book.  I had the joy of spending some time with her in the kitchen to make the birthday cake, or in this case, cupcakes.

We used 1 box of 1-2-3 Gluten Free Deliriously Delicious Devil's Food Chocolate Cake Mix and 1 box Yummy Yellow Cake Mix.  I can not rave enough about these mixes, by the way.  If you find yourself needing to bake Gluten Free on occasion, and want to be able to make more than just the basics, check this brand out (Stop & Shop often carries them).  They do not have other potential allergens, such as corn in them, and you can make them vegan or not.

For the head we used a cupcake cake mold, and the rest were baked in regular muffin tins with liners.  Inside the vanilla cupcakes we places a few butterscotch chips, and dark chocolate chips into the chocolate cupcakes.

After the baking was done, we make a mock-up to see how many we had and how much space we would need.

The initial rough layout

Yes, some of the chocolate ones caved in.  We decided to make up for it with frosting.

Aimee did the bulk of the frosting creation while i did the food coloring.  A tip i learned from Aimee was to add a little salt to the traditional buttercream frosting mix.  Wow, did it make a difference in flavor!

Eric Carle's illustrations are done by layering hand painted papers like a collage, and we wanted to imitate that style with our frosting.  This meant we needed several different colors of frosting.  We ended up with two greens (for the body), two reds (for the head) and a blue and yellow for accents.

Frosting cooling on porch
Of course, after everything cooled came the serious work of actually frosting all these cupcakes!  Aimee took on the head and we both worked on the cupcakes.  For the most part we chose a base of one green, and added accents of the opposite green as well as blue and yellow.  We used toothbpicks to sort of smear and mix the colors without them becoming fully blended.

A closeup of some of the cupcakes
When the caterpillar was fully arranged on the table, this is what it looked like:


Because we had a day between the baking and the party, we wrapped everything up (carefully!) and kept the spare icing that Mike didn't eat for any last minute touch-ups.  Here is the final picture, fully assembled with other foods Aimee had made for the party:

We had discussed using candles or pretzels as spines and ears, but decided this was good enough.  It really was an incredible sight and i'm very proud of our artistic baking abilities!  And it tasted awesome too!

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