Mika’s Egyptian Birthday Cake

Mika's Egyptian Birthday Cake
Mika wanted to have an Ancient Egyptian Birthday Party and that meant an Ancient Egyptian cake. We usually get Safeway birthday cakes because they are pretty good and they offer a choice of whipped cream as frosting and filling. I don’t really like other frostings, specially as they are probably full of trans-fats and high fructose corn syrup. But Safeway did not offer an Ancient Egyptian decoration theme for the cake (no surprise there) and, after having spent so much money on the party, I really didn’t want to spend that much on the cake. So I decided to make it myself.
We first attempted to make a pyramid cake, but that didn’t work out at all – the cake never achieved a pyramid shape. We then settled for a sheet cake decorated with Ancient Egyptian plastic figurines I got at Amazon. Now, these were quite expensive ($10) which did bring up the cost of the cake, but they are very cute and hopefully the kids will play with them. I guess otherwise I can always put them up on listia 🙂
Mika wanted a chocolate cake with strawberry-whipped cream filling and whipped-cream frosting. After consultation with people in the craigslist food forum I decided to make a box mix cake, I’m not sure if that was the best choice as I didn’t think the cake was that chocolaty, but I’m a terrible baker myself so there was no guarantee I could do better by making it from scratch.
I baked 2 cakes in two the longer pyrex baking dishes, but that was a mistake – as each cake was pretty tall so putting one over the other made for a *very* tall cake. Next time I’d probably only use 2/3rd of the batter produced by each cake mix for each sheet.
I baked the cakes the day before, then I covered them with saran wrap and left them on my table – they kept very well.
I was concerned that the whipped cream filling would not be hard enough to withstand the weight of the top cake, but actually this was not a problem at all. I topped the bottom sheet with a couple of layers of fresh sliced strawberries (which I’d gotten at the farmer’s market the day before. The strawberries themselves were delicious – I think next time I might even go for a 3rd layer of them.
Then I whipped 1 qt + 1/2 cup of heavy cream (what I had at home) with about 1 tsp. of cornstarch plus granulated sugar and 1 tsp. vanilla. I don’t know how much sugar I used, I just poured it into the mixing bowl until the cream was sweet enough. The results was a pretty heavy whipped cream. I used about half of it to top the strawberries and then I put the second cake on top of that. The second cake did not crush it at all, and the cream did not slide off the sides – what I feared. In other words, it worked quite well.
I used the rest of the cream to top the cake and cover the sides. I actually ended up not having enough cream for this – next time I’d probably use 3 pints – and serve any extra with the extra strawberries. Though if I make a thinner cake, I’d need less cream.
Also at the suggestion of someone from craigslist, I powdered some cookies (I used shortbread cookies) and sprinkle them on top of the cake to make it look like sand. I really liked this effect.
Finally, Mika decorated the cake with the figures and the candles.
She was very happy with the cake, and it was pretty good (though there was too much cake to cream ratio) – and I saved some money over a Safeway cake. So can’t complain.
BTW, I bought the heavy cream at Trader Joe’s. It’s about half as much there as in Safeway, but it has a relatively short “shelf” life.

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