Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cake Tales and Mini-Tiers

When I ventured into the crazy world of cake design, one thing I quickly discovered is that everyone loves a big honkin' beautiful cake, a carved cake and the look of fondant on a cake.

But as in life, the bigger and better, the more it costs and the more cake there is to eat.

Not every birthday party needs 75 servings of cake. I find that 30-40 servings is more than enough for the average small party. For this reason I came up with the "mini-tier" cake.

The mini-tiers are relatively small and will serve 30-ish. Each tier has only two layers of cake and one layer of filling. They stand 12" tall, without a topper.

The size of this black and white cake was 7-5-4 rounds.  I baked it in the 3" high "fat daddio"pans.  I normally use approximately 7-9 cups of batter for a mini-tier - depending on the pan combination I use.

The "Pink, Pretty & Prissy" cake is a mini-tier in the sizes of 7-5-3.  

The 3" round is a bit of a challenge to cover for the smooth buttercream effect.  Using a textured effect it is not so bad.

This purple zebra cake is also a mini-tier in the sizes of 8-5-4.  It is covered with vanilla and chocolate buttercream and has fondant decorations.  

If you noticed the discoloration on the top tier it is because I applied the hot knife method to smooth the buttercream.  I have since learned this happens because of the "all butter" buttercream.  The only way to avoid it is either not to use the "hot knife method" or use something other than all butter buttercream.  

Since I am totally in love with "all butter buttercream," I am slowly learning how to smooth the buttercream without the hot knife.  

I may or may not have success - I will have to get back to you on this one.

The hubster and I made this Ninja Turtle cake for our grandson's 5th birthday.  He is all about the turtles these days.  This cake was 7-6-5-4 and served approximately 40.  Again, just 2 layers of cake and 1 layer of filling for each tier.  

Traditional tier sizes would have been too much cake for his party. We would have had at least three quarters of the cake left and as he would say "You don't want that."  

Since we made him a mini-tier, he still got a cool turtle cake but scaled down to a size more fitting for the number of guests at his party. 

This graduation cake was for someone who was hosting an intimate graduation dinner party for twenty friends. The tier sizes are 7-5-4.  The tiers are only 3" high.

The mini-tier has almost the same dramatic effect as a larger cake if placed on a nice cake stand.
I made this two tier anniversary cake for a couple who had been married for 50 years. They did not have a wedding cake at their wedding so their children wanted them to have an anniversary cake that looked like a wedding cake. 

Just how sweet is that!

This cake is only two tiers but I still used 7 cups of batter.  The tier sizes are 8-4.  I wanted to get the traditional wedding cake effect with more space between the tiers.

This was the first mini-tier that I made.  I didn't have the fat daddio pans back then so I baked this cake in various sizes of Pyrex bowls.  

Crazy, I know.  But it worked.

I don't know the exact pan/bowl because I no longer have the bowls but the cake is sitting on a 9" milk glass cake stand so I will assume the tiers are 7-6-4.

I took this cake to a "girls day pool luncheon."  There were about 7 of us and believe it or not, we ate more than half of this cake.  The girls got to take home a "cake doggie bag" with the left overs.

I have made several of the mini-tiers over the past few years and everyone loves them.

A few additional notes about the mini tier:  

I use separate cardboard circles under each small tier and use the bubble tea straws for support.  I have never tested this without the support so I am not sure if it would be stable without them.  

A single recipe of buttercream, made with one pound of butter, is generally enough.  Making lots of buttercream flowers or decorations, may take a little more.

I always use a 10" cake drum so I can decorate the board just as I do with larger cakes. 

When eating a min-tier, keep in mind that it is called a "mini" so you can eat how much you want and it really doesn't count. 

Sorta like if you eat the little bit size Reese's cups - they really don't count. 

A full size Reese's cup candy bar?  Get out.   I wouldn't touch those - waaaay too many calories. 

Do you like my thinking?  I thought so.  Great minds...

...and with's a wrap, people.  

I think the Reese's Peanut Butter cups are calling my name.

See ya next time