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    The Birds-in-a-Nest Cake {Tutorial}

    February 26, 2013 by Brandy Vencel

    Daughter A. loves birds. I teased her for at least a week that I was going to put a big ugly grackle on her cake. Unbeknownst to me, she wasn’t sure that I was kidding. So, at the last minute, she changed her cake to a baby bird cake, just to be safe. Normally, I don’t allow cake changing so near the Big Day, but in this case, she was changing from a harder cake to an easier cake, so I ever so graciously made an exception.

    This was a three layer butter cake. Yes, from a box. {Sorry, Hayley. I really wanted to make one from scratch but I never had time to try out the recipe!}

    For fill, I simply used buttercream frosting. I often do this if I don’t have something along the lines of raspberry jam on hand. I took a few scoops of buttercream–enough to frost the top of the cake–and added a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder and a little milk, which made for a nice, light-chocolatey top. Since I mixed this up by hand, it sort of looked like dirt. Being that I am not a perfectionist, I didn’t care.

    If you care, then mix your frosting with a mixer.

    I did a quick crumb coat of plain white buttercream, and then popped the cake in the fridge for a while to harden up. Meanwhile, I tinted all of the remaining frosting a pale blue color. The frosting turned out really bright in the photos, but it was quite a bit more subtle than this.

    This is a very easy cake. It’s inspired by Martha Stewart’s Nesting Baby-Bluebird Cupcakes {and a variation of it that I now cannot find my link to}, all the way down to the toasted shredded coconut! The main difference was that I put it on a full-sized cake and therefore added a couple more birdies to the nest. The beaks here are cut from berry fruit leather.

    So, to go on with the tutorial, I frosted the sides, being careful not to actually touch the chocolate layer on top. I popped the coconut, which was spread out on a cookie sheet, into the oven to toast. Next, I added the border around the bottom using my largest round tip. When the coconut was nice and brown, I shaped it into a nest, and used the same round tip to make the baby birdies. After that, I piped on the top border.

    I slipped the beaks onto the birdies, and then melted the chocolate for the eyes, a la Martha Stewart. Sigh. I was once again reminded of how poorly I work with chocolate. The eyes came out looking like tiny chocolate chips instead of nice round beady things. Oh well. A-Age-Eight was delighted nonetheless.

    And that’s it. I liked the cupcakes idea, but frankly, I really wasn’t up for making two or three dozen bird nests. This simple cake was much more my style.

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  • Reply Willa March 3, 2013 at 2:19 am

    What a beautiful cake! Maybe I’ll try to follow your tutorial to make one for Easter week.:-)

    • Reply Brandy@Afterthoughts March 3, 2013 at 3:14 am

      It actually crossed my mind that this would be a good Easter cake. I thought about making another but I thought it might take away some of the special-ness from the birthday memories to do it so soon after. Maybe next year!

  • Reply Hayley February 27, 2013 at 9:19 pm

    Always best to go with a well-known solution (box cake) rather than trying something new before you’ve had time to practice. Good call.

    Your cakes always look wonderful. I am still to get better at mine. And like you, I’m not a perfectionist and thus, do not care if they are not perfect.

  • Reply sara February 27, 2013 at 7:25 pm

    I really need to master the crumb coat. And waiting patiently for it to set. This is a beautiful cake – good job!

    • Reply Brandy@Afterthoughts February 27, 2013 at 8:46 pm

      You know, I always hate doing crumb coats. They seem pointless while you are doing them. But every single time I don’t do one, I regret it, so I’m trying to make myself quit putting them off…unless of course I think I really can get away with it for some reason!

  • Reply walking February 27, 2013 at 3:09 pm

    Gorgeous!!! I am in awe of your talent. When I decorate cakes, they look like a five-year-old did it. :0)

    • Reply Brandy@Afterthoughts February 27, 2013 at 3:37 pm

      Thank you for your kind words, but I must tell you that I think good tools and knowing a few tricks is more important than any talent in this. My sister-in-law worked in a bakery for a while and taught me a number of techniques that still serve me well today! 🙂

  • Reply Rebekah February 27, 2013 at 2:04 am

    Super cute! My girls would love it. 🙂
    And I agree…the cupcakes would be so much more time consuming….one big cake was the way to go.

    • Reply Brandy@Afterthoughts February 27, 2013 at 4:20 am

      I have been meaning to mention to you, Rebekah, that I showed my son a picture of your chess cake and he immediately said, “That should be my cake for my birthday!” This was huge since it was from the boy who insisted upon pie last year. 🙂

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