Spidey Cake!! (162: Buttercream Frosting)

Alex’s birthday seemed like a good time to use the Spiderman Cake pan we got for our wedding. I’d put off using it because I knew that it would take a long time to frost the thing. I also thought this was the kind of cake that deserved an audience before we cut into it.

There was no point in trying a new recipe when I’m using a unusual pan, so I made a standard chocolate cake. The pan was very, very full; I had it on a baking sheet to catch any overflow (which luckily didn’t happen). I can’t remember at the moment how long I baked it; it may have been a full 40 minutes (the maximum time according to the cake pan instructions) – but it may have been closer to what the recipe said the baking time should be. I let the cake cool, and then sliced off the layer of cake that rose above the top of the pan (to make it level when I flipped the pan over). I got to just eat that layer of cake – delicious!

I made the buttercream frosting recipe from the instructions on the Wilton cake pan:

Buttercream Frosting

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups (1 lb) powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

I was supposed to cream together the shortening and margarine, add vanilla, then gradually add powdered sugar. I didn’t read those directions carefully, so that’s not what I actually did. I measured out all the powdered sugar, then whipped the fat into it, and added vanilla and milk to bring it to a frosting consistency. This also worked just fine.

I was going to frost this right, so I bought decorator tips, frosting bags, and black and no-taste red food dye. I used #3 and #16 tips, which made lines and stars, respectively. You’re supposed to have this quantity of frosting:

1/2 cup black
1.5 cups light blue (half of which is thinned with corn syrup)
1/4 cup dark blue
1 cup red
1/4 cup white

This total of 3.5 cups is more than the 3 cups the frosting recipe yielded, so I chose to be conservative in frosting the cake. I also decided to reuse whatever frosting didn’t go on the cake, turning white into red, or light blue into dark blue. For this purpose, I dyed the frosting as I went.

Spidey Cake!!

First you frost the light blue areas and the sides with the frosting thinned with corn syrup. You just smooth this on carefully with a knife. Next, you line and pipe in the eyes with white frosting. The instructions suggest to smooth this with a finger dipped in cornstarch, but I found this really didn’t work. Instead, I ran a spoon under hot water and ran it over the white areas to smooth them. I put the remainder of the white frosting back with the rest of the undyed frosting.

Black frosting was next. I was glad I bought black dye, because it took a lot of it to get the frosting the right color. As it was, black frosting has a purplish hue to it. Black frosting was piped around the eyes, and used for the web outline. Again, I smoothed the black frosting with a warmed, damp spoon.

Dark blue frosting was easy to make, and I used the star tip for it. The red frosting was really tough to get the color right. I used over half of the jar of food dye on it, and I was still afraid it was a little too pink. Once the color was finally right, I used the star tip to put it on the cake as well. I mixed the remainder of the dark blue frosting with some white frosting to make more light blue, and added more food coloring. This made it a different color from the original light blue, but I didn’t have a problem with that. I was supposed to use a larger star tip to make shells along the edge of the cake, but I decided to try it with the smaller star tip. My technique wasn’t good, and I was tired, so I just made squiggles at the bottom instead.

It took over 2 hours for me to frost this cake. This may only be my perception, but I feel like half of that time was trying to get the color of the icing right.

I have a container of leftover red, blue, and black frosting in my fridge. The frosting was easy to make, and very pliable. It was probably better for coloring than other buttercream frostings I’ve made.

I enjoyed having this cake to display, but it definitely took a long time to frost. I’m not sure that I could have saved time anywhere, unless I had pre-colored frosting. I enjoyed decorating this cake, but I don’t think that cake decorating is for me. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but in general I put my effort toward substance, rather than appearance. [This is pretty obvious from the quality of my pictures.] I simply don’t care as much about how my food looks as I care about how it tastes. I want it to look good enough for pictures, and good enough when I’m showing or serving it to other people. And I always want it to look decently appetizing.

I spent 2 hours decorating a cool-looking cake for a party, and I’m satisfied enough with that. But, I know in the back of my head that I could have spent that 2 hours making a whole other cake!

2 thoughts on “Spidey Cake!! (162: Buttercream Frosting)”

  1. The two hours were totally worth it!!! And I for one very much appreciated the extra frosting 🙂 It didn’t just taste like food coloring!

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