Great Indoors: Love pancakes? Try a stack cake
FARGO — Valentine's Day changes as your children grow up. I miss the days when we'd go out and buy cards for every kid in their class. We'd spend time carefully Scotch-taping a Dum Dums lollipop or Tootsie Roll to each little Disney Princess or Power Ranger card.
Of course, it was also fun when they'd come home from school and share the cards they received (and maybe even let me have some candy). My girls might be too old for that, but I would still like to do something special for them this Valentine's Day. So I asked myself, "What is it that they really love and I could make part of our day?"
After considering all of the things they love — and realizing that I probably can't get Lin-Manuel Miranda to come over and perform "Hamilton" for them — I settled on something having to do with pancakes.
My husband or I make pancakes for our daughters every Saturday. It's one of our longest-standing family traditions and the cause of our excessive Bisquick and Log Cabin syrup budget. So I thought it might be fun to go all-out by making a pancake stack cake.
I had seen the pancake stack cake last fall while catching a show on The Food Network called "Sweet Smarts." It was hosted by Elise Strachan, the woman behind the website and YouTube channel, "My Cupcake Addiction."
Her elaborate cupcake and cake creations are out-of-this-world cool and many have gone viral. She's a trained pastry chef, but she does her best to show us home bakers how to do what she does.
After watching her tutorial on the pancake stack cake, I tweaked it a bit by making it just four layers instead of six. Instead of making it rainbow colors, I chose pink and blue boxed cake mixes. (Let's be honest: I'm only a home baker, shortcuts are sometimes necessary.) Make sure to check out the video we put together to see how we made it. I think it turned out pretty great. In fact, I think I'll save a piece for Lin-Manuel Miranda in case he reconsiders.
Pancake Stack Cake
2 boxed cake mixes (any kind, but I chose Duncan Hines Pink Velvet and Blue Velvet)
2 pouches of Pillsbury Simply Pure Buttercream Frosting or 2 tubs of ready-made vanilla frosting
(Ingredients for cake and frosting which depending upon brand might include: oil, butter, eggs and water)
1 box Wilton white fondant
Brown, yellow and white food coloring
1 bag of caramels (I used Kraft caramel bits)
Caramel sauce (about ½ cup)
2 yellow Starburst candies
2 or 3 Bamboo skewers
Mini balloon stick
Make cakes according to package directions. Let cool completely. Make the frosting. Remove the mini balloon from the stick. Tape the base of the balloon stick to a cake plate. Place one layer of cake over the stick and frost. Repeat with the remaining layers. (I chose to stabilize the cake by putting a couple of bamboo skewers into it.) Refrigerate.
While cake is in the refrigerator, prepare your fondant. Roll out a small rope, long enough to go around the cake. (The ropes were about 24 inches long.) Brush the rope with a mixture of brown, yellow and white food coloring and water. It should be the color of a pancake. Wrap rope around the cake. Repeat until the entire outside of the cake is covered. (These fondant layers are what make your cake look like a stack of pancakes.)
Remove the bamboo skewers and set aside. Roll out a large circle of fondant to place on top of the cake. Brush with the food coloring mixture. Melt caramels for a few seconds in the microwave until they have the consistency of clay. Mold the caramel around the exposed stick to make it look like dripping syrup.
Attach an empty caramel sauce bottle on top of the stick. (Depending upon how heavy the bottle is, you might need to further support it by placing a bamboo skewer near the balloon stick and molding caramel around both the balloon stick and the bamboo skewer.) Pour enough caramel sauce over the cake so it drips over the side.
Finally, top with 2 yellow Starburst candies to represent the butter.
Recipe adapted from Elise Strachan, My Cupcake Addiction/Sweet Smarts