In the past, my dad’s love of sports has been translated into baseball and basketball themed father’s day gifts. We’ve bought him books featuring essays by NBA Hall of Famers, caps with the NY Mets emblem and ties adorned with baseball bats. Last year for father’s day, before my cake decorating obsession began, I made him a simple baseball cake.
Ok for a beginner, right?
This year, however, I was really excited to bust out some new skills and make my dad’s cake extra special. The initial ideas my mom and I came up with were wild; the giant flower pot cake (in honor of his love of gardening) that sprouted baseball-shaped cupcake pops and marzipan Mets hats on dowels was high on our list for quite some time.
When the time finally neared, we abandoned our grandiose designs and opted for something simple and special–like him. I decided to make a Citi Field inspired cake with piped grass and a mini “Home Run Apple”, a signature of the former Shea Stadium. Although it took three days to prepare, I had a blast planning and executing the whole thing. I hope he likes it!
The Making of the Citi Field Cake!
I began by making two 8 inch round cakes (I used the King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix–yum!). After wrapping each cake in plastic, I stored them in a gallon size ziploc bag and froze them overnight.
The following morning I removed the cakes from the freezer and unwrapped the plastic. I then placed each cake on a parchment-covered cutting board. Using a cake leveler, I evened out the cakes so they could be stacked on top of each other.
Shaping the cake:
The next step in creating the baseball stadium was cutting the cakes.
I My mom stacked the cakes on top of each other and began by cutting about one side of the cake with a large, sharp knife (amount to cut off will vary depending upon how big or small you want your stadium to be.)
She did the same thing on the other side of the cake, as shown below, making a 90 degree angle.
We cut off a small piece of the corner of the 90 degree angle to add extra shape to the cake.
Making the icing:
For the icing I used this recipe by Wilton. I made a triple batch; enough to add a ‘crumb coat’ and one or two clean, final layers as well as extra for decorative piping. I made an assortment of colored icing as well: green (using green food coloring and Creme de Menthe), red, orange, concrete and tan (explained below).
For best results, I suggest using Wilton brand gels and colors and adding them to the white frosting one drop at a time. Unlike watery store-bought food coloring, Wilton gels are very strong, requiring only a tiny amount of coloring to get your desired color. This takes practice.
Filling the cake:
Because this was a two layer cake, I decided to fill it with my dad’s favorite: strawberry preserves. (You can fill your cake with flavored buttercream or other types of preserves, of course. If you use preserves, make sure you mash up any big chunks of fruit before placing on the cake).
First, I separated the two layers. Using Wilton tip 12, I piped a border around the top of the bottom half of the cake and spread the filling inside the lines. (The piped icing border is used to keep the filling from seeping out of the cake.)
Icing the Cake:
After attaching the top layer to the bottom of the cake it was time to do a ‘crumb coat’. The crumb coat is a thin layer of frosting that keeps the extra cake crumbs in place so additional layers can be spread on top. This helps the cake look smooth, even and professional. Be warned, the crumb coat NEVER looks pretty.
I left the crumb coated cake in the fridge for about 5-6 hours, until the icing had begun to harden. Next, I coated the cake with prepared tan frosting. I decided to cover the cake in tan frosting for a number of reasons. First of all, it allowed for a natural sandy color for the baseball field, over which I was able to pipe green icing for the grass. Secondly, it was much easier to color and use frosting than to roll out fondant. Lastly, the tan sides of the cake loosely resemble the outside of Citi Field.
To make the tan icing, we used a combination of peach, yellow and black food coloring. When the cake was covered with the tan icing I put it back in the fridge overnight so it could harden before decorating.
And that’s all for now! Tomorrow I present the final product :)