Flashback Friday Pac-Man Birthday Cake

This is Part Two of The Pac Man Party, the second installment of my latest series, Flashback Friday. In this series, I share some past creative endeavors, things that happened well before the blog.  Most of the photos will generally come from shots taken quickly with my phone, likely meant for a quick share with friends or family.

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In Part One, I shared our ideas for goody bags and other Pac Man related creations. In this post, we’re only going to talk about cake, the enormous cake that I made for this Pac Man themed Party.

Having made some difficult cakes in the past, I was excited when my son picked this theme.  I thought, “Great! Easy, yellow round Pac Man cake!” But I got ahead of myself.  “Mom, I don’t want the cake to be just Pac Man.  I want it to be like the game.” “Oh, sure honey.  Noooo problem :/  What flavor would you like this year?”  He clearly had been thinking about this.  “I want strawberry, chocolate and vanilla.”  I looked at my husband. Sooooo, this isn’t going to be an easy cake.  Well, okay then…I’ll make the cake if you make all the  game pieces that go on top.

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Let’s start with size.  Apparently, I can’t make a small cake.  I often make birthday cakes that could easily feed a small army. (Thankfully we have a separate refrigerator to store them in.) They end up embarrassingly large and I feel every bit of that embarrassment when I’m carrying them into a room of maybe two dozen or so people. (But those people are always REALLY excited to see the cake!) When you see some of the other cakes that I plan to share, you’ll think that I should have learned a lesson somewhere along the way.  I blame it on proportions.  In trying to get the proper proportions for a Pac Man screen, a 13″ x 9″ pan was too small, and had the wrong proportions. So, I ended up using my 16″ square pan and then cut it to size.

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I baked three cakes. I figured three thin layers…that wouldn’t be too much cake :)  Three batches of cake, one 16″ square pan.  First up, yellow cake. Thankfully, I was good to go on that one.  The yellow cake recipe was Perfected Yellow Cake from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.  I loved it for A Tandy Birthday Cake and it’s now my go to yellow cake. I used Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe for the chocolate layer.  I love that recipe too, but it does not work well for cupcakes, nor does it work well for large cakes.  You’ll see that it baked up without a light crumb and looks a bit fudgy.  Too late.  It tasted good, I went with it.  I’m sure my Chocolate Stout cake recipe would have worked, but I didn’t know about it yet and it’s probably not the best choice for a kids party.

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Then there was the strawberry issue.  I hadn’t ever made a strawberry flavored cake and I didn’t have time to test one.  So I went with the one that had real strawberries in it and it was a revelation!  Yum!  This is the same recipe I used for the Strawberry Cake post.

I used my favorite Whipped Cream Cream Cheese Frosting for the filling. I needed a full batch for each layer of filling. Between the chocolate layer and strawberry layer, I mixed in some mini chocolate chips.  Between the strawberry and yellow layer, I added a layer of strawberry jam.  Then I frosted the whole behemoth with a light chocolate butter cream.  (I’ll post that recipe sometime soon.)

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Then it was time for decorating. A game screen is black and I didn’t want black frosting, so I covered it in crushed chocolate sandwich cookies. I thought it looked great and, as an extra bonus, it would taste good too. Brilliant idea…that was until I started to pipe the lines for the game.  Oh no!  There was nothing for the frosting to stick to! The crumbs formed a movable barrier that would NOT hold the frosting.  If it can’t stick, you have no control. If you know me at all, not being able to draw a straight line on a cake that I had been working on for two days just about brought me to tears. My husband had been working on the fondant characters and game images without issue.  We almost scrapped the whole design, but I decided to just do my best and kept drawing lines until it looked as good as it could. The picture at the beginning of the post is of the cake almost finished.  We added his name next to “Player” and age next to “Level.”  Thankfully, those letters were all cut out of rolled fondant, just like characters.

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So I ended up with a giant cake.  It weighed a good 25 pounds, or so says the good man that carried it for me. After all the baking, filling, frosting, crumb crushing, decorating and tears, the cake looked very acceptable to serve at a child’s birthday party. But the cake itself? If we could just forget about the straight lines for a minute, the cake was DELICIOUS!  Even with the slightly fudgy chocolate layer, which no one noticed and many thought was amazing, the cake was soooo good!  My husband said it was his favorite cake to date.  I’ve made alot of cakes, so that’s quite a big compliment coming from him.

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I loved the cake because it was like having all the desserts you wanted wrapped into one slice.  The bottom tasted like a chocolate chip cheesecake brownie cake! The strawberry layer tasted like strawberry cheesecake, except when you got a bite of it with the chocolate, then it was all about the flavor of chocolate covered strawberries.  The yellow layer had that wonderful classic yellow cake with chocolate frosting flavor going for it, but when mixed with the strawberry action going on down below, was like strawberry shortcake! All those layers and flavors worked so well together and made the MOST amazing cake. And the 1″ cake layers gave it the perfect balance of cake to filling.

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When all was said and done, there was lots of work, a very happy birthday boy, lots of parents who were happy to take some cake home, with more to share for friends and a nice inventory of cake slices to freeze for future cravings.

The photo of the big chunk of cake below (seriously, not even one pretty slice?) is literally the only photo I have of the inside.  Even so, looking at it now…I can just about taste it.

This cake marked the end of an era… a Halloween costume, birthday party, all the plush and toys and related games… Au revoir Pac Man…

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This year, we’re tackling Minecraft.