There has been a lot of excitement this month, which almost derailed this challenge. The big, happy excitement is that Sara and her husband, Will, bought and moved into a new house. This is a major feat anywhere, and especially in San Francisco. The less big, less happy excitement is that I was traveling -- for business and pleasure -- for most of the second half of the month. So finding a time to get together and bake proved challenging.
For that reason, I decided to forge ahead and bake a thematic surprise cake that Sara and Will could enjoy with me. The cake I chose -- the House Cake from Surprise-Inside Cakes by Amanda Rettke (very fortunately available in Kindle version from the San Francisco Public Library!) -- was very daunting for me at the outset.
It began at 7 am with four white cakes, which I baked and popped in the freezer. I only had 9-in. cake pans, although the recipe called for 8-in. pans, but I went with what I had and it worked fine. Strangely I had four of them, as well as two smaller pans. I have no idea where all those cake pans came from.
Chocolate and red velvet cakes followed. The chocolate was especially delicious even though (or perhaps because!) I didn't cut the milk chocolate bits small enough, so they didn't melt fully into the cake as they were supposed to. The two cakes looked quite similar when baked, but the red velvet had the prettier batter.
I also made a whole lot of butter cream frosting. The amount of butter and confectioners sugar involved was shocking. After chilling, I staked two cakes together with frosting in between and begin cutting out the house. You can see the funnel shape for the roof below; I cut a straight-sided cylinder for the body of the house. I was supposed to use round cookie cutters to size the cut-outs but I didn't have any so I free-handed it, which made me a little nervous.
My cakes were a little domed but I am not adept evening them out with a knife, so I just relied on frosting to do the trick. Once I had cut out the house shapes I filled in the holes with the other cakes crumbled together with frosting and stacked the whole thing together. It was very tall!
Sadly I ran out of frosting midway through frosting the outside. If anyone ever tries this recipe, I recommend making two recipes of buttercream frosting instead of the one she recommends. Or else your cake will look like mine on the outside instead of the beautiful version in her book.
While we all had some laughs at my cake's decrepit exterior, I have to admit to feeling extremely proud about the inside. At first you couldn't quite make out the door, but when we cut into it a little more, voilà! A house!
All told, this cake took over 12 hours to make, and I put it in the freezer for substantially less time than was ideal according to the recipe. That being said, a lot of those hours were not active time and, although more demanding then a regular cake, I wouldn't say this one was hard to make. I'd try a surprise cake again for a special occasion. I was glad to have such a happy event to celebrate with this one. Congratulations to Sara and Will!
I'm not including the recipe this month because it's long and involved, but if you are interested I recommend checking out Surprise-Inside Cakes from your library or buying it. Jumping down the Internet rabbit hole of surprise cakes is a fun way to spend some time, too. A zebra cake was the runner-up choice this month, and I may give it a try another time!