An offer to make a cake themed on a child’s latest passion—in this case, Vikings—is a serious thing. When I embarked, I did not know a serpent prow from the curly tail thing. The end result passed muster, and the birthday child, who was impressed at the unveiling, has declared the serpent prow his own to eat.
The ship is devil’s food cake, baked in a shallow layer in a loaf pan. Frosted with chocolate buttercream with chocolate ganache on the deck. The prow and stern are gingerbread, decorated with royal icing, black food coloring and bronze luster dust.
The ocean is a vanilla cake marbleized with chocolate under vanilla buttercream with hardened royal icing waves. Simple yet sophisticated flavor and a sturdy texture that holds up in layers and molds make this cake my go-to foundation for most occasions.
Preheat your oven to 350˚. Line a buttered pan with parchment paper then butter the whole thing thoroughly. Here, I used a heart shaped pan. Set oddly shaped pans on parchment paper and trace the bottom; cut just inside the outline for a customized liner.
In a prep bowl, sift together 1 ½ cups of cake flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, ¼ teaspoon of baking soda and some salt. If you are sifterless, whisk the dry ingredients to aerate. In a large bowl, beat 1 stick of softened butter and 1 cup of sugar. Crack in 2 eggs, beating each in until the batter is pale yellow and fluffy.
With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, fold in ¾ sour cream or buttermilk, vanilla and the flour et al, alternating between the wet and dry until gently well mixed. Pour it in the pan, and drop that pan a few times on the table to spank the air bubbles to pop through the top. To marbleize, which was a new twist for this cake’s audience, dip a rubber spatula in warm chocolate ganache and dredge it in swirls through the batter.
Bake for about half an hour, evaluating progress at 20 minutes. Depending on your oven and the pan in use, baking times will vary. Done when golden brown and kinda bouncy. Let cool on a rack then run a knife between the cake and the pan edge and turn it out.
Cakes should be completely cool before you ice them. And a crumb coat makes all the difference to a fancy finish. Like the one here, of which I am so pleased.
I left the sail to their making. To be the traditional red and white stripes, I am told. Plus Viking figurines!
ps…viola, the final cake: