Bird Day Cake + Vanilla Malt Syrup Recipe / by Molly Brodak

On the top of the list of the things I cannot handle right now is my birthday cake today. Happy birthday to me! Who hasn't wished for a couple of magic chickadees to help with one's cake decorating?

 I mean.

I mean.

The little chickadees are hand painted gumpaste and suspended with a hidden wire behind the dual tone gumpaste ribbons they hold.

Under the dusty blue fondant is insanely good vanilla malt cake and a fudgy chocolate buttercream, my favorite combination.

I've been working on a good vanilla malt cake for a while and I've finally perfected my recipe with this cake. Simply adding malt powder to the mix didn't work--not only did the malt powder tend to clump up, but the malt made the cake drier with a darker crust (as malt encourages browning). So if you can't bake it in the cake, there's only one other logical choice--a soak!

I don't always soak my cakes in syrup because I really love my basic cake recipe and I usually don't think it needs to be any sweeter or moister. But this soak is so, so worth it.

Below is the recipe for the vanilla malt syrup I used to soak this cake, which made enough for both the 6" and the 8" layer. If you've never used a syrup soak on your cakes, don't be shy with this stuff. It might look at first like the cake layer is just getting soggy but it give it a few minutes and the cake will absorb all the syrup and become fantastically moist and delicious. I dab it on with a silicone brush, but another good way to apply it is with a squeeze bottle.

So this is another good use for the dark malt powder I'm sure you bought to make the Salty Malty cookies--the recipe for which, by the way, is going away soon, so be sure to purchase it before the next Recipe of the Month comes along (and I hear it's going to be a recipe for the cheesecake to end all cheesecakes...) This syrup is exactly what you need to make malted milkshakes, so it's great to have on hand.

Vanilla Malt Syrup

1 c. water

1 c. sugar

1/4 c. dark malt extract powder

1 tsp. vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean pod

pinch salt

Heat water and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat or in the microwave until the sugar is dissolved. If using, add 1/2 vanilla bean pod and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Add the malt powder and stir until it is completely dissolved. Cool, and add vanilla extract. Store in the refrigerator once cooled.

 I truly cannot even

I truly cannot even

 I died

I died