Hamburger cake!

I offered to make a little cake for some friends who were getting married, just for the formality of cutting a cake at the reception – they were having a very informal wedding and potluck reception, and didn’t want a big fancy cake. The bride deferred to the groom on type of cake, saying she liked anything and he was more particular, but said he’d probably want a hamburger cake because he’d been quite taken with some at the grocery store. He was not present for that conversation – when I asked him what kind of cake he’d like, he said “hamburger cake.” No hesitation. So hamburger cake it was!

hamburger cake!

Clearly before the protective strips of parchment were removed. Those bottles contain red and yellow icing for people to add to their slices.

The hubs did at least as much work on this as I did, I should say. I started with a Food Network cheeseburger cake “recipe”, though I couldn’t find a 2.5-quart bowl, only a 2-quart bowl, and we decided to make only the burger patty chocolate.

A couple of weeks ahead I did a dry run. I thought I would make a finished, decorated product, but I ended up only baking the cake. I used half a box of chocolate cake mix (1 layer) and a full box of vanilla cake mix (3 layers, which seemed annoyingly excessive at first but turned out to be the right amount).

"dry run" cake in oven "dry run" cake

I took photos with my phone for later reference so the next cake wouldn’t be so bottom-heavy – the top “bun” looked silly, like a little hat perched on top, and the bottom bun could lose up to half its thickness and still be fine. However – look! A burger!

At this point we also thought the bare cake for the bun looked nicer than the icing-covered version, though no icing meant no sesame seeds (rice krispies being the universal “hamburger cake sesame seeds” according to my research). That’s actually why we did the “condiments” – the lack of bun icing meant overall a low quantity of icing, and we thought it would be nice for people to be able to add more if they wanted.

The day of the wedding we worked on the cake for SIX HOURS. I did not expect this to be a six-hour cake, but we made a lot of icing and had to go out for more powdered sugar at one point.

preparing the pans with parchment and grease filled pans (and bowl)

Preparing and filling the pans: cut out circles of parchment paper on the regular pans, thorough vegetable shortening on the bowl (via paper towel). A lot more batter in the bowl this time around – two-thirds full. Note that the bowl will take a long time to bake and even the pans will take longer because of the full oven. The tomato slice will be quicker, but for everything else start with a 30 minute timer.

leveled chocolate cake with crumbs for siding chocolate cake without its center, oops

I leveled the chocolate layer on a plate, saving the crumbs so I could put icing around the outside and pat them on (a great idea from the Food Network version). Unfortunately I should have put parchment on the plate beforehand and I lost the middle of the layer when I flipped it onto the bottom bun. A lot of toothpicks and additional icing later and it was okay, but not stable – it kind of disintegrated on the way to the wedding. I was able to make it look all right but there is a reason there aren’t as many photos of the finished cake as there might be…

getting the top bun out of the bowl

Flexible dough scraper with rounded edge: the perfect tool to get the top layer out of the bowl.

cheese and lettuce icing tomato slice on the cake/burger

The hubs insisted on cheese, lettuce, and tomato, and fortunately we had a small-scale cake pan (in fact it was retrieved from the to-donate box, so good timing!). I baked a skinny cake layer and he soaked it in glaze-style icing (powdered sugar and milk, as opposed to the easy vanilla buttercream – plus cocoa powder as appropriate – of the rest). He colored all the icing, except the green which was commercial, and iced on the cheese and lettuce. It was a minor miracle when we added the tomato slice; suddenly it all looked right.

an attempt at frilly toothpicks part 1 an attempt at frilly toothpicks part 2

We’ll close with a failed experiment – frilly toothpicks. I cut strips of fruit roll-ups into fringe and rolled them around the ends of bamboo skewers. I corn-starched one side of each strip but probably should have done both… on the way to the wedding they just solidified into a wad of gummy at the end of the skewers.

Crochet baskets

For whatever reason recently I went on a spree of crocheting baskets, and got their portraits made. I’ve got some edging ideas/instructions and other information for you along with these photos.

crochet baskets all together

All of the baskets are tight-gauged single crochet other than the top edging; the rainbow basket was worked in a simple spiral, and is the only one made with a single strand of yarn.

joined basket interior view spiral basket interior view

The first picture above is the inside base of the biggest basket, made with 3 strands of worsted acrylic in red, teal, and brown, and worked in joined rounds. I believe I made a few decreases on the sides to give it that pot-like silhouette.

The second photo above is the second-largest basket, made with two pairs of worsted weight yarns: a textured purple/plum paired with a ruddy brown, and a brick red with a dark brown that had a thin shiny strand wound with it to make it tweedy. They are crocheted in a double spiral.

I’m really pleased with how the colors worked together in both cases.

the biggest two baskets together trefoil basket with button knot and tray

The outlier clearly is what I’ve been referring to as the “trefoil catchall,” in hot pink and gray worsted. This one I actually wrote a pattern down for so I could get all three pieces the same:
1. Sc 7 in magic ring. Sl st to join each round; chain up at the beginning of the next.
2. *Sc inc* around (14).
3. *Sc inc, sc* around (21).
4. Sc inc, sc 20 (22).
5. Sc inc, sc 21 (23).
6. Sc inc, sc 22 (24).
I needle joined at the end, though the join spot ends up hidden. Weave in the ends of the first two; use the tail of the third to sew the three together at the increases/joins.

For the “knob” I cut three long pieces of each color of yarn, threaded them through the joining so they ended up doubled, braided the lot (12 strands!) and then tied a Chinese button knot. Tightening it was a process – lots of tugging of loops along the path of the braid. I pulled the whole tail down through the join and wove in the yarn ends individually (phew!).

The tray is just a disk in joined rounds; I would have made it larger but I ran out of yarn.

How about edgings?

crochet basket edgings

On the left, a bobble stitch edging separating out the two doubled yarns. I used 4-dc bobbles; 5-dc bobbles would have looked nicer but I was concerned about running out of yarn. That is also the reason the top round is in only one color set. To note before we make bobbles: I had finished the main-body spiral with the two doubled yarns across the basket from each other.

Except for where I had to fudge it because of the count, I spaced the bobbles 1 stitch apart: in one color set, ch 2 and use as the first dc in a bobble (I can’t remember whether I made the bobble in the same st as the sc the ch comes from, or the next st; same would be better), ch 3/sk 3, bobble, and so forth almost halfway around. Stop short of color set two and sc 1-2 sts with it, if needed, to put it halfway between two of the color set one’s bobbles. Go back to color set one and finish the ch 3/sk 3, bobble round; if you don’t have a multiple of 3 stitches make the last two bobbles 2 or 4 apart from each other instead of 3. Sl st to join; finish off if this is not the color for the final round. Repeat the process with color set two; its bobbles will be in the middle of the 3 skipped stitches from the first set (with fudging as needed).

After the bobbles are done, pick up your final-round yarn, chain 1, and sc into the top of each bobble (enclosing the other color’s chain) and between adjacent bobbles (around both chains). You could also squish the tops of your bobbles a bit more by making 2 sc between bobbles (around the chains) and none into bobbles.

On all the baskets you want to join the final round with a needle join instead of a slip stitch.

On the right, a portion of the border to Julie Yeager’s Deco’Ghan. Fortunately I had a multiple of 3 stitches around so I didn’t have to fudge here. After joining my last round, I did round 3 of the Deco’Ghan border – as with my previous modification I skipped 3 unworked stitches at the beginning, marking the first one, and made the 2 sc in unworked stitches into the unmarked stitches. At the end I joined my chain into the marked stitch, made only 1 sc, and joined to the beginning of the first chain. After chaining up, I sc’d around in just the “sc 2” sts (i.e. the ones at the beginnings of chains and between, but not at the ends of chains). This tightens up the silhouette even more and poofs out the chains.

And finally, front and center, a simple border without concern for spiral-caused jogs: sc around in FL only; sc around in both loops; sl st around in both loops of last round plus unused BL of two rounds prior. Join last sl st to first with a needle join and weave in end. Makes a nice little lip.

Fabric bowls

I wanted a corral for my little salad dressing containers for my lunches and thought I remembered coiled fabric bowls in my Scrap Users collection. That was not correct – there were bowls, but they required additional materials. I thought I could do without, though, and whipped up a little bowl. Now for the Sew-op sale coming up, I have a few more.

fabric bowls all together

They’re easy to make: four-inch-wide strips of fabric, joined end to end with 1/4″ seams, seams pressed open and then raw edges of strips hidden in two steps. First, press the strip in half the long way, wrong sides together, and then fold the raw edges into the crease and press again. Twist the strip and coil it like a braided rug, sewing the rounds together with a wide zigzag.

prepped fabric strips for bowl-making beginning a fabric bowl

The direction of coiling shown above is easier, so that the main portion of the bowl is under the arm of the sewing machine. There’s more room to work that way for the next step.

When the bowl is nearly as big as you want, hold the flat of the bowl up at an angle to join additional rounds. Eventually the base of the bowl should be nearly vertical.

angling the base to make the sides of the bowl a fully shaped, though not complete, bowl

Once I got out to the end I turned around and sewed right back to the middle again, to make sure it was fully secure. There were skipped stitches and places where I was too off center to grab both strips, so going around a second time accounted for both of those.

I don’t have a formula for determining strip length from desired bowl size, but I did record the lengths that went into these bowls.

three fabric bowls

The rainbow bowl was the largest, coming from a 5 yard 4 inch strip. It’s also lopsided; like throwing pottery on a wheel, getting symmetry with these takes some practice. The bright stripey bowl was from a 3 yard 27 inch strip, and this brown striped bowl was from a 1.5 yard strip.

three fabric bowls

This brown striped bowl, on the other hand, was from a not quite 1 yard strip. The purple and green bowl was 3 yards 11 inches, and the pinkish floral was 3 yards 8 inches.

I also learned in my sewing that while Gutermann’s metallic thread isn’t bad at all – though it does have all the usual tangly problems – Sulky’s metallic is impossible. It gave me profoundly high tension without even putting the presser foot down and eventually I just gave up on it.