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Old 09-02-2006, 09:27 AM   #1
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Birthday cake help

I have to make a birthday cake that will serve 30 people. I already have a good idea of what filling/frosting I will be using, what cake base recipe, as well as how to decorate it.

The only open question is the size and shape of the cake base. My 10" round base seems inadequate for so many people, even with 4 layers. I know rectangular cakes are most practical vis a vis cutting and serving, but I feel use of a rectangular base would hamper my ability to smooth icing, smooth batter prior to baking, and do other tasks that require a cake turntable to do well (obviously with a rectangular cake, a turntable is useless, and I'll be forced to do things free-hand), and would also deny me the ability to use my cake ring (although I am looking into the possibility of a ractangular equivalent)

So, my questions are:

1. Can I still get away with using a circular cake pan with that number of people? Do you think a 12" pan would be adequate?

2. I am told that a "heating core" is recommended for use with large cake pans. However, after having seen pictures of these things and reading instructions for use, there is still something I do not grasp about this device: once you remove it from the center of the cake after baking, doesn't it leave a round slice of cake in the centre that will just fall out, like a little cut-out?

3. If I am forced to go with a rectangular base, what's a good size? Will 13" / 7" be sufficient for that number of people? Are there any methods for filling and frosting rectangular cakes to overcome the disadvantage of the inability to use a turntable?

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Old 09-02-2006, 11:46 AM   #2
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Jason, why don't you make three or four circular cakes and then rather than stacking them...create some kind of funky design with them on a large piece of heavy cardboard covered with foil. Say...a four leaf clover or the Olympic symbol. Is there something from the birthday boy/girls life that is particularly significant that you could emulate? We've done trains with rectangular cake pans, hearts, and many other designs in this fashion. It looks cool, you have a lot to serve and you can use your regular pans.
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Old 09-02-2006, 12:25 PM   #3
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Jason ~ Alix beat me to the punch. I, too, was going to suggest that you make more than one cake and then decorate each a little differently. You can display the cakes in the center of the birthday table using pedestal cake dishes and theme decor. Hey, have you thought of thirty or more cupcakes. You could split each one and put in a little filling and then frost them any way you like. Try making a tiered centerpiece by stacking bowls and plates (two levels will do) and then displaying all the cupcakes. Good Luck! Let us know how it goes.
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Old 09-02-2006, 01:02 PM   #4
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I am honored that I,too, thought along the lines of you two experienced bakers. My cousin made a Florida Gator cake for her daughter's reception (groom's cake) that would have fed that many or more, by using round cake pans and putting them together longwise. It was very nice and quite like a gator. As my mother used to say, there are many ways to skin a cat besides feeding him butter! ( I have no idea what that means).
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Old 09-02-2006, 01:15 PM   #5
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I thought the exact same thing as all these gals!
I was thinking you could make 4 different flavors too, such as chocolate, vanilla, carrot and lemon (or whatever). You could get very creative!
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Old 09-02-2006, 01:45 PM   #6
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Unfortunately, I am not experienced at making birthday cakes, and my piping skills are very rudimentary, so I was hoping to do things as simply as possible. More than one cake, along with the tiers and stuff you are suggesting sounds like it may exceed my abilities. I really am not artistic at all. I wouldn't be able to arrange multiple cakes in a way that looked good.

I made a 10" practice cake a few weeks ago using a buttercream transfer, and I was quite happy with it, both in terms of form and function. It was simple, but it looked good and it worked. If I could make the same cake, only bigger (even if rectangular instead of round), that would be much preferable to an elaborate new design that may or may not work.

By the way, the cake is for an 80 year old woman. I was planning on making two genoise cakes, slicing them each in two for 4 layers total. I would use a mocha or vanilla syrup on each layer, fill the cake with vanilla pastry cream, and then frost with vanilla buttercream. The cake would be decorated with a sturdy decorator's buttercream, which I would use to make a flower buttercream transfer (using green and red colors) and then red and green roses as a border + a big happy birthday in the middle, in yellow.

The nice thing about this cake that I devised is that it doesn't require any real piping skill beyond just piping in the lines for the inscription and the transfer, and then some rudimentary flowers for the border, made with a closed star tip (Thankfully, I find it's almost impossible to go wrong with a closed star tip, which is very easy to use).
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Old 09-02-2006, 01:49 PM   #7
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But yeah, anyway, does anyone know about the rectangular versus circular pans? What's a good size for that many people? Oh yeah, and I really wanted the equivalent of a cake ring but for rectangular cakes, but I can't find any. Do they exist?

And what do you think about the taste of my cake? I know it will taste good, but is there any particular flavor for the syrup that would be good, any suggestions as far as other things? Is it a mistake to use genoise? That's just the cake I'm used to making for other things, but I realize it isn't traditional for birthday cakes.
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Old 09-02-2006, 03:41 PM   #8
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a variety is always good at a party but do you have time for it? Cupcakes can be a big time saver.

All the best,
Robert
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Old 09-02-2006, 03:43 PM   #9
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jason, 30 people is a lot of cake. I think I would do two 9x13 rectangular cakes or four 9 inch round ones. Trust me, I am as far from artistic as it is possible to be and still exist. You really don't need any piping skills. Just bake your cakes as normal, and when they are cooled and ready to decorate just do them as you would a single cake. I wish I had a photo but I don't. If you do two rectangular ones then just butt them up next to one another before you do the final icing and make one really long cake. Or if you use the round ones just have them all touching and do the final icing that way. You can cut semicircles so they sort of "nest" together better if you wish. Sorry if I am not describing this well.

Your flavours sound lovely by the way.
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Old 09-02-2006, 03:57 PM   #10
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You know, that's not a bad idea. I could do two rectangular cakes, and put them together. Maybe I could even make them mirror images of each other; one chocolate and the other vanilla. You guys are giving me some ideas!
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