Campfires and rabbits and Smokey the Bear, oh my!
This is probably one of my favorites cakes that I've ever done! My dad recently retired after 39 years in the US Forest Service and he's had a lot of cool jobs over the years, including being a park ranger and a wildlife biologist. It was definitely a challenge to try and capture all of that on one cake!
For the cake itself, it was both white and chocolate cake. I made the layers to look like the different layers of soil, so the dark chocolate layer was on top to represent the surface layer, then a milk chocolate layer for the top soil, a beige colored vanilla layer for the subsoil, and a white vanilla layer with Oreo chunks to represent the bedrock.
As I've not done a lot of fondant sculpting before, all of the decorations were definitely a challenge! I had a lot of help from my wonderful bakery co-workers, who crafted all of the animals except Smokey the Bear. It took me 3 times as long to make him, but thank goodness he turned out recognizable!
For the river rocks I used chocolate rocks that I found at Lolli and Pops. I also used Swedish fish painted with edible silver lustre dust, and I tinted clear piping gel blue to make the river.
The biggest challenge with this cake? Transportation! We were only flying in to Montana for the weekend, so most of the cake had to be assembled ahead of time. After McGyver-ing a Styrofoam cooler so the cake would fit (and not slide!) we packed it up in the 4-seater airplane for a 3-hour flight over the Rockies! By some miracle it made it completely intact, and I assembled the decorations and river moments before the retirement party. Phew!!
So, avocados. The super-food that millennial's are putting on anything and everything. But they're not just a hipster food fad, avocados are incredibly versatile for healthy fat substitutions in baking!
My brother and sister-in-law eat very clean and don't really eat sweets, so for her birthday I knew I had to find a healthier alternative to traditional cake. After a bit of googling, I found a recipe that used raw sweet potato instead of flour, avocado in place of butter or oil, and dates and a little maple syrup as a natural sweetener. It was definitely a very dense cake, almost fudge like in consistency, which is usually the sacrifice you make when using fruits and vegetables as healthier alternative in baking. The flavor was still amazing (I used dutch processed cocoa powder) and the avocado made it perfectly moist. It was a big hit with my family!
The frosting was equally as healthy and tasty, made with mashed sweet potato,dates, avocado and cocoa powder. I ended up adding an extra whole avocado to make it a bit creamier and stiffer for decorating, and it worked beautifully! I did have to cheat a tiny bit and use Italian meringue buttercream to make the green flesh part of the avocado, but it was a very thin layer.
Overall, this cake turned out wonderfully and tasted great as well. For a long time there was a lot of misconception that "healthy" baked goods tasted terrible, but that certainly isn't true! There are many healthy substitutes you can use in baking that taste amazing, so don't be afraid to test them out!
Recipe link: https://paleoglutenfree.com/recipes/best-paleo-avocado-chocolate-cake/