Cooking by kittee:

Holy Shit! It's a kitteekake (TM) tutorial!

Cakes are just the thing that give vegans a bad rap. There are so many ugly and dry versions out there, that lots of folks expect vegan cake to be shitty. That's one of the reasons it's really important to find a few excellent recipes you like and stick with them (or embellish and make them better). If you make a one sheet cake, it might taste good, but it's guarenteed to look unimpressive. You want to be a sexy, hottt, young-vegan-baker of tomorrow, don't you? I fuckin' do! I want to make a visual statement with every fucking cake I make, and I want them to taste awesome too. Not just to show off my mad vegan skills, but because I want to eat lotsa tasty kake. Lots of fuckin' tasty cake, did you hear me??? That's the kitteekake MS. So, to do that show off-y, tasty, kinda thing, I always make at least a two layer cake--so find yourself a recipe you like, bake two halves (or more) and then follow this basic tutorial.

Alright, so you've just pulled your two cake halves out of the oven! The ones whose pans you greased and floured (or cocoa-ed) before you poured the batter in, right? Great! Place the hot pans on a wire rack to cool for about ten minutes (if you let them sit longer than that, they sometimes start to stick). Now, carefully, run a dull table knife around the perimeter of each cake to loosen the sides (you don't have to push hard or you'll cut the bottom of your cake pans. Ok, now still in careful mode, take the wire rack and place it upside down on top of your cake. If you have a big hump on top of the cake, don't push hard or you'll force grooves in the top or possibly crack it open. With two steady hands, flip the whole thing over (the rack with the pan) so the wire rack is right-side-up on the counter/table top and the cake pan is now upside down on top. Give the pan a soft little tap for good luck, and slooooowly lift the pan up. Hopefully, the cake swill gently slip out. If it seems stuck, you can pick up BOTH the rack and the pan (at the same time) and give it a firm shake. Never force the cake out of the pan by shaking the cake pan over the rack because gravity will force the cake to fall out and it will probably come out unevenly and break in half. You'll have to trust me on this one. Also, don't try to hold your cake in one hand and take a picture of the cake with your other hand, because you will probably drop the cake on the floor and get buttercream smashed into the camera's lens. Shhhh, this is our nasty secret, OK? Also, if you find a recipe you love that always seems to stick, even after you've greased and floured the pan, cut out a little circle of parchment and put it in the pan. That way when you flip it, it'll slip out like magic and you can just peel the paper off.

Since the cakes are out of their pans and are now perfectly cool it's time to stuff them with a filling. It's important not to cheat here with a slightly warmish cake, so if you're in a pinch for time, find room in your freezer to get the cakes down to a cool temperature. I've tried short cutting around this step a million times, and it never ever works. Especially if you're in a warm climate like me and especially if you are using any kind of filling with Earth Balance. Earth Balance is some serious tasty shit, but it is not stable at room temperature and melts really fast. I've found that it's best to use a combination of spectrum vegetable shortening and Earth Balance buttery sticks for my frosting/fillings.

Place one cake on a fancy plate or cake server--bottom up (so the whole thing will look sorta like a hamburger bun--see photo below) and place strips of waxed paper, copy paper, parchment paper, wrapping paper, whatever paper you have underneath the cake. This will help clean up the cake after the frosting spectacle is over. Spread a generous portion of your filling on top, but leave about 3/4 inch of border on the edge because otherwise it will spread and glob over the side. I like to mix up a big batch of buttercream and use that, or jam, or a custard (I made a lemon-coconut custard for the filling used in this picture).

If you want to be extra fancy (and who doesn't?), you can put one type of filling on one side and frost the other. For this cake, I slathered custard on top of the bottom layer and spread a stiff buttercream on the bottom of the top layer. This pink buttercream was made with 16 oz. of organic, unbleached powdered sugar, 1/2 cup Spectrum shortening, 1/2 cup Earth Balance buttery sticks, a teaspoon or so of organic orange zest, two teaspoons of triple sec, and enough rose water to get the proper spreading consistency. Then I added a bit of Wilton pink food coloring gel for color and beat the shit out of it with my pink kitchenaid stand mixer. Got that?

Now for the exciting bit. Sandwich the two cakes together. Just be careful to get them centered and don't let them slip!. If you have any thin sides on one half, try to match them with a thicker part on the other so the cake stands straight.

Recently, I ruined a perfectly beautiful chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting because it was really warm in the kitchen, and I was in a big hurry. The buttercream I used to fill the center got too soft, and the cake halves slid really far apart. After much fussing, I thought I had fixed the problem (at least enough to hide with extra frosting--you can really hide a lot this way, so I always try to make a big batch). I set the cake in the fridge to firm up, and when I pulled it out, I discovered that the halves had reslid beyond repair and were cemented there forever because the buttercream was chilled solid. Since I was trying to get to the airport, I just didn't have time to deal with a totally fucked up cake. Dazee was really happy to eat my mistake, but I had made it for my friend's fundraiser and she ended up losing out. To avoid this slippery, annoying business, I employ my lovely, yet very useful pink chopsticks. Once you get the cakes properly alligned, just push four chopsticks all the way through both layers and refrigerate. They will lock in place when the frosting chills and no one sees the holes once the top's frosted. It's a miracle!

Once your center is really chilled, frost the sides of the cake. I don't have an offset spatula, so I just use a regular table knife. If your cake is crumbly and getting bits mixed into your frosting, there's a special trick you can do to make it behave. Go over the sides first with a very thin layer of frosting and let the cake air dry for a bit. Then once it's formed a thin, dry layer, you can go over it with a thicker layer and crumbs won't mix in. Keep the chopsticks in place while you're doing the sides. If the frosting is getting too soft, put the cake back in the frige to firm up. Once it's stable, take out the chopsticks and frost thickly on top--the chopstick holes will disappear. Once you know you have enough frosting to cover the whole cake, go over thinner areas with more frosting. I like thickly frosted cakes, and I get grumpy when the cake pokes through; I want it totally and completely covered with sweet-sweet frosting. Psst, now's the time to slip out the paper strips. See?? The plate's all clean!

Decorating the frosted cake is my absolute favorite part. Using a decorating bag with cool tips is really fun, but if you don't have one, it's totally not necessary. Just think about that scene from Willy Wonka (you know the one I mean) and your creative side will just automatically squirt out. I like to use jelly bellys, non-pareilles, sugar sprinkles, nuts, chocolate chips, coconut flakes and vintage cake toppers. You can pipe extra buttercream around the sides and tops if you want, or you can make a great decorating icing by mixing a tiny bit of liquid (water or soymilk) into powdered sugar. Don't add too much liquid, just do it drop by drop until you have something that can be piped out. If you don't have a bag, you can bake sugar cookie cut-outs, frost them with this glaze and then stick the cookies around the cake. In this cake for Dazee, I mixed chocolate soymilk (it's all we had) with powdered sugar and then dyed it with red food coloring paste. The decorating icing will harden after a few minutes or you can stick it back in the fridge for another quickie.

Cooking by kittee: