Monday, March 11, 2013

This little piggy...

My dad celebrated his 81st birthday this past Thursday, but we didn't celebrate it until Friday.  My sister and I left Friday morning to drive the three hours to our folks' house.  Q came down after he got off work...just in time for a birthday dinner of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, white acre peas, and salad.  As my sister and I were traveling, she asked me again about making Dad's cake.  She was frying the chicken so I needed to make the cake.  For some reason, when she'd asked me earlier in the week, the thought overwhelmed me.  As we were talking, though, I had an epiphany of what kind of cake and how it would be decorated.  Hence, this is another recipe post. :o)

We settled on a hummingbird cake with cream cheese frosting.  Dad's favorite is coconut, but many of the family do not share his affinity for it, so we went for next favorite.  I searched the web and found a recipe which I will type out below.  I did change a few  things, as I almost always do.  I don't know why, but I seem to adjust recipes often.  Anyway, catching the hummingbirds is the hardest part.  They are very hard to sneak up on.  [Just kidding, no animals were harmed in the making of this cake.]   

Before making the actual cake, you'll need to make some fondant.  My favorite recipe is a marshmallow fondant which actually tastes good (I'm not fond of the taste of other fondants.) Here is a link for Marshmallow Fondant.  I adapted this recipe just a bit by adding one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract, and I used butter instead of vegetable shortening.  (Looky there, I did it again!) Shape fondant into little piggies as seen in the picture below.  Use a toothpick to make eyes and belly buttons.  You will have quite a bit of fondant left over, but it will freeze nicely until the next time you need to make some fun, editable decorations.

3 cups all-purpose flour  (sifted)  
1 teaspoon baking soda  
1 teaspoon salt  
1 1/2 cups sugar (this is cut from the original 2 cups, but it could probably be cut another 1/4 cup)  
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)  
3 large eggs, beaten  
2 sticks softened (very soft) butter  
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract  
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, undrained  
1 cup chopped pecans  
3 mashed bananas

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Blend in the beaten eggs and softened butter until the mix is moist. Gently stir in remaining ingredients, then pour equal amounts into two 9" round pans that have been greased and floured. [Hint: I'm not sure where I learned this 'trick," but I always cut a piece of waxed paper to the round shape of the bottom of the pan and lay it in the bottom after it's been greased and floured, then pour cake batter in.  I never have cakes stick anymore.  Once the cake is done and out of the pan, I simply peal off the waxed paper for a very smooth cake bottom.]

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes (when toothpick comes out clean.)  Cool on racks for 8-10 minutes, then remove from pans [& peal off waxed paper.] 

Now, I used cream cheese frosting, which is a favorite in our household, but I'm sure your favorite frosting/icing would work equally as well.

Here is a link to a Cream Cheese Frosting recipe.

The fun part of this cake comes in with the decoration.  I saw a picture of this idea on...wait for it...Pinterest, and I adapted it.  It was originally on a chocolate cake with a chocolate "tub" or "fence." (You'll understand that when you see the picture.)  The problem was, my dad is not particular to very chocolatey things.  So for the tub/fence, I used sugar wafers and pirouette cookies (the named brand) as poles. These were put on after the cake was frosted on the top (lightly) and sides.  The wafers were then stuck to the sides of the cake - four wafers, one pirouette cookie (shortened by 1 1/2"), repeat all the way around cake.  I tied a ribbon around the tub for a festive look (and to make sure the fence stayed stuck.)

In the top of the tub (cake top) I put in more frosting to which I had added 1/2 cup of minced and toasted coconut and 1/2 cup of chopped pecans.  I also added about one tablespoon of cocoa for that "dirty" color.  I wish I had added a teaspoon of cinnamon as well so as to make it more of a red Georgia clay "dirty."  Oh well, you know what they say about hindsight... 

Apply the previously made piggy figures just as if they were playing in the mud.  This cake will be a hit.  As my sister said, "that cake tasted good enough to squeal about!"  My dad thoroughly enjoyed it (the look and the taste) and we had a good time sharing in the festivities.  I'm very thankful for my family.

Desserts like this always remind me of these verses from God's word:
Psalm 38:4 (NIV) Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in Him.
Psalm 119:103 (NIV) How sweet are Your words to my taste; sweeter than honey to my mouth. 

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