Aaaannnd it's done!
I have to say this was quite an adventure and I absolutely have newfound respect for cake decorators- this stuff isn't easy!
The cake didn't turn out precisely as I'd planned, but I still think it was a good first attempt at cake decorating. And as I've mentioned before, the purpose of this cake is for it to be smashed between Hudson's fingers, not admired for its form and beauty. So in light of that, I'm trying not to hold myself to too high a standard, however difficult that may be for someone who tends to have "unrelenting standards", or so I've been told!
The cake itself turned out nicely... the second time around. After a killer 16-hour workday, I decided to bake the cake last night. I realized (too late) that normal common sense eludes me after a certain number of hours working my crazy job. So, of course, when I got home at 11pm, I thought... "let's bake that cake!" Two words: bad.idea. I made the full recipe (see below) which was for two 9" round pans and poured the entire recipe into two 6" round pans. The result? The pans runneth over with batter, the oven was an unspeakable disaster, and I narrowly averted setting off the fire alarm during this middle of the night baking adventure. I crawled into bed at 2am with a smoke-filled house and an oven that looked like a war zone, just thankful the house was still standing. This morning I surveyed the damage, cleaned the oven, and started over. This time, I halved the original recipe and voila... it's amazing how things can work out when you consider the basic laws of chemistry and physics while baking.
The 3D "1" didn't happen, but I think that the letters turned out quite nicely. I made a fluffy white frosting that doesn't contain any fat (and should, theoretically, be easier to clean up off the birthday boy than greasy buttercream).
So it's all done and I can't wait for Hudson to smoosh his cute little fingers into it!
Recipes for cake and frosting below:
Base recipe: http://allrecipes.com//Recipe/one-bowl-chocolate-cake-iii/Detail.aspx with modifications
Fluffy White Frosting