Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Basket Cake

I made this basket cake to say welcome to visitors at our congregation's Friends Day this past Sunday. Several people asked me about it, so I'm sharing directions here. I hope this easy design will inspire you to celebrate the loveliness of spring.

To make a basket cake, bake a cake in two round baking pans. Allow the cakes to cool completely. Carefully remove the first layer, and position it on your serving platter. Frost the first layer with a crumb coat, and refrigerate until the icing has set. Frost it again to get a clean covering of icing. A good tip is to keep a cup of hot water nearby when icing a cake. Dip your icing spatula or knife into the water as needed, and the heat from the water will help your utensil glide smoothly across the cake.

Remove the second cake layer, and cut it in half. Place it on top of the cake to make the body of the basket. Cut a small half-circle from the remaining half-layer, and reserve for another use. The remaining arc of cake will serve as the handle. Position the handle on the top of the cake, and secure it to the basket with a little icing if needed. Frost the top and sides of the cake and inside of the handle and basket. Use a large star-shaped decorating tip to decorate the handle. Begin by piping icing onto the inside of the handle and basket. Start at the bottom, and pipe icing up and down as you work around the inside area of the cake. Next, pipe icing in similar fashion around the outside of the cake to cover the handle. Then pipe icing onto the top of the handle, careful to cover any open spots from inside or outside the handle.

The basket weave design is a lovely way to cover a cake, and the technique is easy to master. Use decorating tip 47, ridged side up, and work from left to right across the cake. Start with the top of the basket. Pipe a straight line from the brim of the basket to the bottom of the basket. Next, pipe short, evenly spaced perpendicular lines over this first line. Then pipe the next line from brim to edge, overlapping the ends of the short perpendicular lines. Now pipe short perpendicular lines between the last ones, beginning at your first parallel line and crossing over the second. Continue this process across the top of the basket, then around the side of the basket. Use the star tip to outline the edges of the basket with shell borders.

To complete the cake, fill the basket. You can pipe icing flowers onto the cake, or use real or silk flowers. If you use real flowers, choose an organically-grown, edible variety or simply gather blooms from your garden. Just cover the stems with plastic wrap before inserting them into the cake. Add a bow to complete the look. You could fill this versatile basket cake with other things as well. A chocolate cake filled with chocolate-dipped strawberries would be delicious for adults, and a holiday cake filled with seasonal candies would delight children. Think patriotic star cookies to light the Fourth, colorful silk leaves for Thanksgiving, candy canes and greenery for Christmas, and marshmallow peeps for Easter. However you fill the basket, what a great way to celebrate the bounty of blessings that fill our lives!

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