December: Finale

This is it, the last monthly cake in the inaugural Year of Cake! When choosing a design for this one, to be served tonight, New Year’s Eve, my main consideration was finding a technique that I’d wanted to try but hadn’t gotten to yet.

Obviously it should also be some sort of festive theme, but the classic NYE symbols–champagne, party hats, black & white clocks–weren’t inspiring me. After literally having a nightmare about it being Dec. 31 and my not having a cake design, I finally came up with a plan.

Chi-Town Rising

My town decided to do a big downtown NYE celebration this year, and they are calling it “Chi-Town Rising.” Instead of a ball or other icon “dropping,” a huge star from the Chicago flag will rise up a building.


Well, like most Chicagoans, I have a strong affinity for our city flag, so I was down to make a cake featuring its unique six-pointed star.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia
Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Also, this led me to that last technique I’d been eyeing–caramel. The Cake Bible makes caramel cages look really simple, and Life’s a Strawberry demonstrates caramel ribbons as a cool and not too difficult cupcake decorating option.

The star rising over Chicago tonight seems to be golden, so I would need amber caramel, which the Cake Bible says can be ground in a food processor to be made into golden decorating sugar. Perfect!

The Process: A Photo Essay

It’s New Year’s Eve and we have company, and nobody is reading this now anyway, so I’m going to finish this out with a bunch of photos and minimal text.

The recipe is pretty simple. 200g sugar, 80g water, 1/8 tsp cream of tartar. Heat & stir until sugar is dissolved, then stop stirring, raise heat, and boil until 350-360 degrees.

boilingSugarThen put in cool water to stop the cooking until it gets down below 240 degrees.


I used my silicone muffin cups for mini-cages, since I didn’t have a cake design in mind yet (I did the caramel the night before the cake), and I mostly just wanted to see if they would work. I did 7 cages, some for “ribbons” on parchment, and some just as chunks to grind into powder.


The next day I carefully pulled the cages off the muffin cups, and they stayed mostly intact!

caramelCageCloseup caramelCages

Now for the cake. I doubled the champagne cake recipe I used on the Cup Cake and put it into two 8×2 rounds and a 6×2 round, which ended up being extra.

I layered them and since I was worried about them drying out, I added a little cinnamon syrup some friends had brought over. A syringe from children’s medicine worked well to sprinkle the syrup over the cake.


I cut the layers on a diagonal to make the star rise, but after a while of trying to figure out the right angle, I pretty much just guessed.


And it worked!


Q was helping me in this whole process. Helping.

I printed the star to get the proportions right.


Then I started cutting.


Gold dust on the star, Quentin helping again.


I needed to use the cages somewhere, so I broke them and stuck them to the back.


And it’s a cake! Happy New Year!


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