Ratatouille Cake

Halloween fell on a Saturday this year so I figured I would have plenty of time to not only bake the 12 dozen cupcakes for the Wednesday, but get right back into baking again Thursday and decorating Friday to bring the latest designer cake inspired by a West Island Cake Club workshop cupcake to a Halloween party Saturday. It did take the better part of Saturday for me to decorate – characters are hard to do!

The Ratatouille cake started out as a ball cake, which I completely overfilled not having ever tried the pumpkin spice cake recipe I found on Epicurious. I also made a 6.5 inch and a 7 inch round cake, both in springform pans.

Rather than follow the recipe’s instructions to melt the butter and blend it with the sugar, I decided to cream the butter and sugar together. This made for a very thick batter – it was nearly unpourable – I should have known these cakes would rise and rise and rise. They took nearly two hours to bake – but when they finally came out of the oven, even a burned palate couldn’t keep us from ripping crispy-moist chunks from the cracked cake tops. Yes, crispy-moist, I swear this exists only in cake!

By far, this is the best cake recipe I have ever tried. I know I keep saying this with just about every new recipe, but this time I really really mean it. I made a triple batch which left me with less than half a can of pumpkin purée otherwise I would be right back in the kitchen making this cake once again. It tastes like pumpkin pie. And I love pumpkin pie more than anything and the fact that is has bite, and nearly a light brownie consistency makes it all the better. Fantastic!

We bought some whipped cream in cans – this was the perfect topping – I had tried to reconstitute some orange tinted buttercream from the cupcake order – but it simply would not cooperate after I added that dreaded cream cheese. Can someone please find me a cream cheese buttercream recipe that works?!

The orange fondant was made in the Kitchenaid. The copper Kitchenaid. The $1200 copper Kitchenaid. And the little that engine that could, did. And it saved a lot of back ache and wrist strain. I used mainly orange colour but added copper colour as well – got the idea from staring at the mixer. The perfect pumpkin colour was the result.

The stem and the rats are made from gum paste, Rémy (the one on top of the pumpkin) has a thick metal wire structure inside so that I could shape him and rest him on the pumpkin without waiting for him to dry. I made him, glued on the nose, eyes, ears, arms, feet, tail, waited about an hour and we left. I brought some extra ‘sugar glue’ – simple syrup with egg white in it – a sort of edible super glue – but it leaked all over my backpack and I didn’t even need it – bumpy ride and all, this cake was solid.

The eyes were hand painted and the door was made from a marble slab of beige and brown fondant rolled on a template I found to press patterns into paper with a ball tool.

Lesson Learned:

– Whatch them eggshells. I had to tell everyone that crunch was probably the cloves.

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