Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving Turkey Cake

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. And after taking some time off from baking to focus on my little guy, I'm back in action just in time for the holidays. That's right, it's go big or go home with this show stopping, out of control magnificent turkey cake. But the really awesome part is that this cake look far more complicated than it actually is. I'm not going to lie to you, there are definitely multiple steps involved, but all are straight forward and easy to follow, and the finished product is oh-so wonderful. Trust me when I tell you that your guests will be wow'd and think you are the coolest, most talented person ever!

It all starts with an ordinary bundt cake. Easy enough, right? Below I've provided my recipe for a delicious spice cake with cranberries and walnuts, but you can use any flavor bundt cake you'd like. You can even use a box mix if you prefer. I promise I won't tell. I happen to love this particular cake for Thanksgiving because it tastes fantastic and makes my whole apartment smell like fall while it's baking.

Thanksgiving Bundt Cake

3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
4 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together in a medium sized bowl.  Set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer of medium high speed, cream together the butter and sugar with the paddle attachment.  Add the eggs one a time, until each egg is fully incorporated into the butter and sugar mixture.  Mix in the vanilla extract and maple syrup.   Switch the mixer to low speed, and alternate adding 1/3 of the flour mixture, 1/2 of the buttermilk, another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the remaining 1/2 of the buttermilk, followed by the remaining 1/3 of the flour mixer.  Finally mix in the dried cranberries and walnuts.  Give the batter a few mixes with a rubber spatula, just to make sure all of the ingredients have fully incorporated, and then scrape batter into a 10 cup bundt cake pan.  Bake bundt cake for 50-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  Place bundt cake on wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes, and then turn the cake out carefully onto a plate or wooden cutting board.

Vanilla Decorators Buttercream
1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
6-7 cups confectioners sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
pinch of salt

In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on medium high speed, cream butter and shortening until pale and fluffy.  One cup at a time, add the confectioner’s sugar, and beat on medium high until incorporated.  Once all of your confectioners sugar is in, add the vanilla extract and then the milk, a little at a time, until your buttercream is of a consistency for piping.  It should be creamy enough that you can squeeze it out of your piping bag without having to apply too much pressure, but stiff enough that it holds its shape when piped.

To assemble your turkey cake:
Divide buttercream into 4 equal parts.  Tint one part orange, one part yellow, and one part brown (with cocoa powder).  Keep the last part white.  Put each of your colors into their own piping bags.  

Cut your bundt cake at one edge where the center hole meets the cake.  Turn the larger piece of the bundt cake on its side, and place the smaller piece of bundt cake on its side in front of the larger piece.  This is the shape of your turkey.  

Use your white buttercream to completely coat a thin “crumb” coat over the entire base of the turkey cake.  This creates a smooth surface and locks in any crumbs so that they do not get into the rest of the icing piped on.  

Once the cake is coated in white buttercream, started with your orange icing and using a ribbon tip, pipe a ribbon pattern going across and around the high back of the cake.  Once the orange ribbon is complete, use your yellow buttercream to pipe a ribbon pattern in front of the orange buttercream, slightly overlapping it.  

Continue with the white buttercream, and pipe a ribbon pattern in the same fashion as the orange and yellow. Keep alternating colors and piping ribbons of icing, slightly overlapping one another, until the entire circumference is covered with ribbons of icing. If you’d like, you can pipe small star dots in white buttercream on the front of the cake, to give the body some contrast from the ribbons on the rest of the cake.  

Next, using the brown icing in a piping bag fitted with a star tip, pipe a large circle and a small circle on top on the front of your cake.  Add on two sugar eyes and a candy corn for a nose.

Maple Leaf Sugar Cookie Feathers

Take your turkey cake from cute to extraordinary by attaching maple leave shaped sugar cookies on lollipop sticks to act as feathers for your turkey.

The Best Sugar Cookie Dough Of All Time
2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Additional materials needed:
yellow fondant
orange food coloring spray
6 inch lollipop sticks

Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar together on medium speed for 2-3 minutes, until mixture is pale and blended.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until egg is fully incorporated into sugar mixture.  Add vanilla extract and beat.  Reduce mixer to low and add flour, a little at a time, until dough is fully combined, taking care not to over mix.

Divide into two disks and wrap in plastic.  Refrigerate dough for at least one hour, or preferable 2 to 3 hours.  Dough can be left in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Remove your dough from the refrigerator, let it sit for a minute or two so it is easier to roll out, then put your dough between two sheets of parchment paper and roll out with a rolling pin to approximately 1/8 of an inch in thickness.  Using your maple leaf shaped cookie cutter, cut out leaves and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Carefully place your 6 inch lollipop stick into your cookies, making sue not to push the stick all the way through the cookie.  Bake 10-11 minutes, or until cookies are just starting to become golden in color around the edges.  Remove from oven, let cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack to complete cooling.

While your cookies are cooling, you can roll out your yellow fondant, and use the same maple leaf shaped cookie cutter to cut yellow fondant maple leaves.  

Once your cookies have cooled completely, use a very thin layer of buttercream icing to attach your yellow fondant on to your maple leaf cookie pop.  After all of your yellow fondant leaves have been attached to the front of your cookies, spraying from a distance of about one foot, gently spray the bottom of the yellow leaves, so that it achieves an ombre look, starting from orange on the bottom and getting lighter as it reaches the top.  

It’s ok if the leaves don’t all look the same.  Just like real leaves, they can have discrepancies.

Last but not least, gently press your maple leaf sugar cookies fanning around the back of the cake in two rows, so that it resembles feathers.


1 comment:

  1. This just might be the cutest thing ever - I don't think I'll have time to make it this year but it's already on the to-do list for next year :)