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Saturday, January 7, 2012

An Oreo that serves 12

My husband Bill mentioned that the photo of this cake ought to have something in it to show scale, or everyone who sees it will think it's a photo of a cookie.
I bought this set of cake pans at Williams-Sonoma years ago; they still carry it!

My favorite thing about it is you can easily adapt this cake to suit any occasion by coloring the filling. The stores would have you believe Valentine's Day is coming up fast, so I went with the hot pink from the set of Duff Goldman's Electric Color Gels. This icing will seriously stain your teeth and tongue pink; you'll look like you've just been chomping on a plaque disclosing tablet (which might not be a bad idea, if you love sugar the way I do).

I hadn't yet learned the procedure for leveling cakes the first time I used this set; I didn't know what the term meant. Basically, when you bake cakes and they form a dome-shaped "crown", you want to cut the crown off so you can stack the cakes flatly and evenly. If you try to stack these cakes right out of the pan, the crown on the bottom cake will cause the top cake to crack in half. Sure, you could shim up the icing on all sides of the crown to get a somewhat even surface, but the process of leveling is easy and will make all your cakes look more professional. Start by letting the cakes cool to more-or-less room temperature. With your longest serrated bread knife in hand, get down to eye-level with the cakes. Start gently sawing straight across…
Note that I'm using a cutting board; otherwise the "COOKIE" side of the cake would be getting those cooling rack lines pressed into it. I check myself every stroke of the knife to make sure I'm staying level…
…and after just a few strokes…
…Whew; out the other side. You might find you prefer to rotate your cake as you saw into it; that way you'll only need to saw halfway across, if you come at it from a few different sides. Once the crown is free and clear, remove it with your hands or use a cake lifter like this (it's essentially a massive spatula):
For the record, I try to buy as little cake gadgetry as possible (which is why I don't own a cake leveler). The cake lifter, however, I think is indispensable. I'll show you a nifty trick in the near future for a project you can do with that cake crown, so don't throw it out or toss it to the drooling audience that's suddenly materialized in your kitchen.

Once you're leveled those cakes it's time to start stacking them. Place the bottom cake "COOKIE" side down on whatever plate you're going to serve the cake off of. Load an entire can of frosting (color it first with paste or gel coloring, if you're aiming for a concept other than the traditional Oreo color scheme) into a piping bag fitted with a large star tip (like the Wilton #1M). Start by piping a border around the edge and then spiral in toward the center; feel free to get really sloppy with this step…
…because with the aid of the cake lifter you'll be placing the top layer over all that hot pink decadence momentarily…
…like so.

This cake was a hit, by the way, when I made it for a great group of gals I used to play poker with, The Poker Chicks. It was a reference to the Oreo-addicted Russian mobster played by John Malkovich in the brilliant poker movie Rounders. Honestly, though, I can't think of a crowd who this cake wouldn't be a hit with…

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