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    I Almost Forgot: The Hamburger Birthday Cake

    July 19, 2009 by Brandy Vencel

    The very first day that Si was sick, the afternoon that he came home from work, was the day before our oldest had his seventh birthday party. I had just dropped the children off with my parents for the afternoon, ran to the feed store on my way home, and was shocked to see my husband’s car in the driveway. He was on the couch and said his stomach felt a little funny.

    I had no idea on that day what the future was going to hold for us.

    It is amazing to me how, in retrospect, some things seem so very providential  I think I’ve learned that God is more in the details than we realize. He even foreordained this birthday cake.

    My normal Birthday Party Eve Routine makes me sick before the weekend is over. You see, I make these complicated cakes that always take me longer than I expect. {I am not complaining, for I love to do this.} So I stay up until one or two in the morning completing them, and in the process I eat too much cake and frosting. By Saturday, I am exhausted and running on adrenaline, an effect which quickly wears off once the party is over. By Sunday, I have usually caught some sort of bug, a predictable result when I consider the sleep deprivation combined with over-consumption of sugar.

    Make that powdered sugar.


    So as I was saying, this cake was providential. My son picked it out in advance: a hamburger cake to match the burgers we were eating at his party. It looked complicated to me, but I was done by 10:00 PM, a new record for me. And I barely had to cut the cake down, which meant I hardly ate any sugar at all that night. I thank the Lord for this, because I ended up leaving the birthday party a bit early to take my husband to Urgent Care.

    And now here we are, on the other side of all the drama, and I’m realizing I never blogged the cake, which is a tradition of mine. Someday I’ll figure out how to make these cakes into a health food, but until then, this is the Real Deal, powdered sugar, butter, and all.

    I looked up Hamburger Cakes on the Internet, and found a number of alternatives. I ended up combining the ideas into something that I think is pretty much my own fusion of what I read. The key is to bake a two-layer white or yellow cake in 8-inch or 9-inch cake pans, then freeze those layers while you bake a batch of brownies in one pan of the same size. {Frozen cakes are so much easier to decorate!} So the “meat” layer ends up being brownies, which are a nice dark brown with a messy edge that looks great without having to be frosted.

    A second key is to use some high-quality food coloring gel so that you can get the frosting for the “buns” to be just right. Do not use cocoa powder as it’ll be all wrong. I used some brown in moderation, and then added in a dab of red so that it’d have that orangey-look:

    The steps are pretty basic, which is why it took me so little time. Put the bottom layer on your base and make sure the top is really flat {cut it down if necessary}. Frost it with your brown. If you think you don’t have enough of your brown, use some plain white in the middle because you’ll be putting the next layer on top of it anyhow.

    Stack the brownie layer on top of this, and add some “glue” frosting on top of that. Don’t get too close to the edge. An unfinished edge is fine since you’ll be adding in the “toppings” there later on.

    Stack on the top layer, and frost it as smoothly as you can. Remember you want a “bun” look.

    Now, if your husband is nice like mine, you have a good set of decorating tools, and adding the “toppings” will take no time at all. I have learned, after many, many years of frosting cakes using plastic baggies and imagination, that good tools save a lot of time. I separated out three separate bowls of white frosting and tinted one bright yellow, one green, and one red {for tomato or catsup, depending on your perception}. Gel food coloring is a big help when you are going for vibrant colors like these. A leaf tool can be for lettuce, a ribbon-type tool can do the cheese, and a plain round end can do the catsup.

    The end.

    It’ll come out looking sort of like this:

    Ooops. I almost forgot that if you keep real sesame seeds on hand, which I do, sprinkling a few on top will give it a more realistic look.

    I was a little distracted at the party, with Si being sick in a back room and all, so I didn’t get that “perfect” cake table photo I usually try to take, but here is a shot from the side:

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  • Reply Jan Sublett July 22, 2009 at 4:35 am


  • Reply Rebekah July 20, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    I love the cake! It looks delicious and like a lot of fun! Great work. 🙂

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