Monday, July 2, 2012

Camouflage Cake

My dear friend Ashley got married about a month ago (you know the one who's shower I turned into Foodzilla while planning?) to a man made perfectly for her.  This wedding was positively oozing with love, good vibes, and the absolute knowledge that this was a marriage made to last.

As all good brides do, Ashley put a ton of time, energy and forethought into exactly how she wanted their big day to be executed.  One of these details was in the form of a groom's cake for her beloved.  Since the groom is an avid hunter she encouraged him to put bits of camouflage into the decor of their wedding, but each time he shied away from it.  Little did he know she had a major camo surprise planned for him, and she asked me to make it for him.  A camouflage cake!

GULP.  I mean, this was my wedding cake debut!  And it was for one of my dear friends' wedding no less.  Oh yeah, and besides the occasional birthday cake for a friend's birthday, I don't really have much cake decorating experience.  But I was up for the task...and I think I did alright.

I was a little intimidated and did crazy amounts of research and several renditions of this cake before the big day.  After my obsessive research (and a miserable attempt at camo fondant) I decided to use the VIVA paper towel method (great video tutorial here) for smoothing the icing.

For this method you need to use a crusting buttercream recipe, the one I used is below, and a roll of VIVA paper towels.  Why VIVA?  Because they do not have a pattern on them and are perfectly smooth.  I started by piping the design for the camouflage pattern onto the cake.  Then, I put the whole cake in the fridge for about an hour for the frosting to set up, or crust.  You will know that your frosting has crusted when you touch the frosting with your finger and it doesn't leave any on your finger.  It should feel slightly stiff  but it won't be hard.

Once the frosting had crusted I used a VIVA paper towel and laid it over the top of the cake and very lightly smoothed it with my finger.  (Some people use an offset spatula, but I found that my finger left a smoother finish because I could feel the bumps and lumps beneath the paper towel.)  I repeated this method working from the top to the bottom of the cake and then around the sides.  It took awhile to get the smoothness I desired, but it worked!  Don't believe it?  I didn't either at first.  Here's proof:

I was thrilled with how the cake turned out, and clearly, so was the groom!

Chocolate Crusting Buttercream Icing
Adapted from Cake Central

Makes enough to frost 2 - 8" cakes

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup Crisco all-vegetable shortening
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 pounds (8 cups) powdered sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

*Variation: to make a vanilla buttercream I omitted the cocoa powder.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a handheld mixer) cream the butter, shortening, vanilla and salt until smooth and no lumps remain.

In a separate bowl, sift together the powdered sugar and cocoa.  Alternately, you can pulse 1/3 of each at a time in a food processor to sift and combine.

Add 1/3 of the powdered sugar mixture to the butter mixture and beat on medium-low until combined.  Add 3 tablespoons of the cream and mix on low until combined.  Repeat with remaining powdered sugar and cream until desired consistency and sweetness is attained (you may not need all of the powdered sugar and cream, this makes a very very sweet icing).

If you want to color the icing, do this after your desired consistency is reached.  Then add a few drops of dye at a time until the icing is the color you desire, keeping in mind that it will be slightly darker once it has crusted.

If you are not using the icing right away cover with a damp paper towel and put in the fridge.  When you are ready to use it whip it with your mixer for one minute.

Ice the cake, smoothing it with an offset spatula as much as possible.  Allow to air dry or put in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.  When the frosting is set (it doesn't come off on your finger when you touch it) you can use the VIVA paper towel method described above to smooth the frosting.  Once you've smoothed the cake, you can add decorations, or you can simply...



  1. Oh my gosh, you seem to have outdone yourself in every way possible my friend :)
    What a stunning cake!
    Perfect for such an obviously happy couple!


  2. That cake is adorable! I've seen the vid using the paper towel, but had no idea it'd come out this good in real life! Great job on the camo cake!

  3. You are amazing! OH EM GEE! Look at this cake!

    I bow in awe of your superior cake makin' skills!

  4. Oh my gosh, that is so FUN! And you're right, the groom clearly loved it. Congratulations to your friends.

  5. What a perfect grooms cake! Wonderful job on the camo layer, it sounds difficult to make! Hope you have a wonderful 4th of July holiday :)!

  6. The look on the grooms face says it all... what an achievement. Love it!

  7. Hahaha the groom's face in that picture if priceless! I've never heard of using a Viva paper towel, but I'm going to have to try that out for sure! The cake looks great. I'm so impressed!

  8. How stinkin' cool is this! You are so talented!

  9. OK, that is an adorable pic of the groom with his cake!! He has quite a good woman, not many brides would give up their pretty feminine cakes for a camouflage cake made special for the groom! Very sweet. :)

  10. WOW, Maggie! You did a fabulous job on this camo cake! The groom looks delighted with your marvelous creation!

  11. Very cool! I had never heard of the VIVA papertowel method, but I will totally remember that one. I'm glad he liked the cake, it looks great!

  12. I have heard of the viva towel method but haven't gotten around to trying it yet...i think it would be much easier than trying to smooth my icing with a spatua. Your cake is wonderful! Excellent work :D

  13. I have heard of the viva towel method but haven't gotten around to trying it yet...i think it would be much easier than trying to smooth my icing with a spatua. Your cake is wonderful! Excellent work :D

  14. wow, your cake looks so awesome! such a great job :)

  15. OMG this cake is awesome! And the groom looks more than pleased. What an adorable photo.

  16. "Camouflage" reminds me of the lizard I found this morning. Not a happy moment. But this type of cakes are always meaningful :D

  17. Congrats to the happy couple and to their extraordinary pastry chef! What a great tip to smooth icing!


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