Shaniya asked me months before if I would make a cake for her daughter’s first birthday; uhmmmm, YEAH!
Shaniya had already scoured the web for the perfect cake and gave me months to prepare. I have this thing that I have to make the cake in my head several times before I actually make it. Then I project all the potential hazards.
Fantastic idea. If only I could make all of my cakes out of styrofoam and let the icing dry between photos. HAHAHA! I am sure there are those who never mess up … no, wait, not so.
I cook in the real life world where the cakes are delivered NOW and eaten really soon. It is a bit of an ephemeral task. Just how I like it.
Right away I decided a few things. The pineapple is piped with a thick star. Although the flowers are piped in the picture, I will use fondant. Leaves, I will do both piped and fondant. The flamingo is really cute!
We decided on a lemon cake. My basic cake recipe is a lovely, moist, sour cream delight that would work well here. Then I made the cake in my head about a hundred times.
I always start the reality cake about three days before pick-up or delivery. Day one I make all the fillings and a couple of batches of Snow-White Buttercream. It is a Wilton recipe I have used for years. Don’t look it up. I am NOT making a link so you can always enjoy the frosting. Mine is delicious. Often I work on the fondant elements on day one. Especially if I want the fondant to dry a little. I wanted to make all the little individual flowers early so the yellow centers would stay in the blossom when I attached them to the cake. That was a great thing because little A picked the flowers off and ate them one at a time.
Either on day one or two I bake the basic cake. I freeze it if I need more control over the trimming and architectural part of the deal. Usually I wait for day two. I bake all the layers in a preheated oven. I made a chart of the weight of cake batter for each layer so the layers can be nearly identical. (They never are … nope … same batter, pans, humidity. Same freakin’ oven and they are never the same. Get used to imperfection.)
After the cakes I decide on the syrup for the layers. I want to complement the flavor profile. More fruit flavor? Add a sweet liqueor or fruit syrup. Balance a rich chocolate? Use a lighty sweetened mousse or stabilized whipped cream. We decided on a pineapple filling and a lovely lemon creme icing.
The field starts to get a little unbalanced as the assembly takes place. I am usually so involved at that point that I never remember the photos. A quick and delicious crumb coat and we are ready for fondant … if I forgot to put in the dowels. I use bamboo skewers or sharpened dowels to strengthen the cake. I have forgotten them before and had a bulge in my bottom layer. Then each layer receives its treatment.
Here is the process of the fondant waves. I do most of my fondant work freehand. I made a little paper pattern for the flamingo- which means I cut out a flamingo shape and a wing from plain paper and used them. I tried to measure the legs and all, but it was too big compared to the cake. And the legs were too long (but they snapped so it turned out okay anyway. Waves were just strips of fondant stretched and ruffled on one side.
Finally it is ready for the finishing touches. The top-down photo shows them all. Tiny pink blossoms. I had about 60 left over. Piped leaves and an adorable flamingo. All that was left was to box it for pick up.
Yes, I did cut the window to allow for the pineapple leaves.
Here’s to the process!
None of these images have been altered to place my baking and decorating skills in a more favorable light.