Friday, May 16, 2008

Grey Jay, Part 2 (Frosting)

Crumb Coat

We like to freeze the cake before cutting and frosting it, to minimize crumbs. If you don't have room in your freezer, it helps to chill the cake in the refrigerator. I then apply a "crumb coat" - a thin layer of frosting to stick the crumbs down, so they won't get mixed up in the top coat of frosting. Until now I had just been using the same frosting I used for the top coat. This time, I tried making a thinner crumb coat (1 1/2 T butter, 1 lb powdered sugar, and 4-6 T water). That worked nicely and allowed me to spread it quite thin. I probably have enough left over to coat another cake (depending on the length of the perimeter).

Grey Jay Cake with Crumb Coat

White Frosting

I chose a sour cream frosting to get the white parts as white as possible. Using butter or vanilla would have added too much color. Theoretically one can use shortening but, as mycakes so aptly pointed out, that would violate Article 4 (use only food). I used my usual method when searching for a new recipe - pull as many recipes from the Internet as possible, write them all down, thoughtfully compare them for similarities and differences, and then pick one randomly.

Most of the recipes called for butter, but after I combined 1/2 cup sour cream and 1 lb of powdered sugar, it was obvious that the butter was completely extraneous. If I'd had a lemon, I probably would have added a little lemon juice to pump up the tang, for more contrast with the sweet cake.

Grey Frosting

Figuring out how to make blue grey frosting for the wings and tail was a challenge. When we made the jam cake, we used the bluest jam we could find without high fructose corn syrup. Still, boysenberry isn't terribly blue.

In earlier experiments trying to make green frosting, we had found that powdered spirulina showed promise as a colorant. (Spirulina is another violation of Article 6 - sorry. Health food stores are your best bet.) Matt found that adding about 2 T of jam and 1/4 t spirulina to 3/4 cup of the sour cream frosting produced a creditable grey. Add the spirulina very gradually until you get the color you want - a tiny bit goes a long way.


The only problem with this recipe was that it was too runny. This actually produced a lovely smooth top, but sagged a lot on the sides - I had to clean it up repeatedly. Another time, I would make a separate batch of frosting starting with just the powdered sugar and jam and then adding sour cream until I got a good consistency.

Grey Jay Cake Frosting Closeup


I was pleased with the buff on the front of the crown. (I tried to find a more technical word for that area. On the dog it would be called a stop, but all I could find in Sibley was crown.) I used cashew butter mixed with a few drops of maple syrup to make it spreadable. There's that pesky Article 6 again. But cashew butter is a lovely food and we recommend you keep some around anyway. It's particularly good for french toast and waffles (do you sense a theme?). In lieu of cashew, you could probably use smooth peanut butter and lighten it up with a bit of the sour cream frosting.

Cashew Butter in Jar Cashew Butter

Next post, the finishing touches.

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