Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy Monday! Yup, I'm a day late. We spent the weekend celebrating our grandson's 1st birthday! The cake above is Parker's smash cake as well as the family cake for a dinner we had after his party. The cake was displayed at his party but cupcakes were handed out to the guests...more on that later.

Parker is a tall boy so "giraffe" has always fit him very well but he is also mischievous so a monkey fit him well. So I created "Rupert" the giraffe and "Murray" the monkey for his cake.  Because these are made from fondant with a bit of tylose mixed in, you have to let them dry for at least a few days before they can be used on the cake. It's not as tricky as you think! Like playing with clay or playdough, you just work the fondant into the shapes you want them to be then stick them together with a bit of water as glue. For Rupert's head and horns I did use toothpick bits to help them stick more securely while they were bonding together. The last step is always the handpainting to give the character a bit more depth.

The cakes are both lemon chiffon. Since he was a newborn Parker has loved lemon so it was fairly easy for his Mom to pick out which cake would be his 1st birthday cake flavor! With this cake I learned a new lesson. Normally I use C&H pure cane sugar because where I shop it happens to be affordable. However, this time I wasn't where I normally shop and just bought the store brand powdered sugar. What I didn't know is that the buttercream and fondant I was to make were not going to be quite the same because the store brand is "sugar beet" sugar. From the taste you can not tell the difference but how it handles you can really tell the difference. The buttercream stayed "grainy" for quite awhile. Once it had set for a day the granules finally dissolved and by the time of the party you couldn't tell the cupcake frosting was "grainy". The fondant was really really "soft". This means you have to work a lot more powdered sugar into the fondant to make it stiff enough to use. Otherwise is stretches and tears really easily. So lesson learned. Whenever shopping for powdered sugar make sure it's Pure Cane Sugar. If it doesn't say it's Pure Cane Sugar then chances are good it is made from sugar beets. Good for your coffee, not good for your buttercream!

While the fondant was a challenge to work with it wasn't impossible to make this light green fondant for the family cake with a forest of palm fronds for Murray to hide behind! And the Smash cake was just two star tips with vanilla buttercream that had been colored golden yellow and brown. Start off with the brown stars to make your spots and the number and then fill in with the yellow. Trim with the brown to set off the yellow as well as to secure it to the tier below.

As with all stacked cakes, even one that is only a 4 inch on top of a 7 inch, you need to make sure your structure is right. Between tiers there are 4 dowels and a cake board as well as a long dowel inserted from the top of the smash cake down to the cake board on the very bottom of both cakes. This adds a lot of stability, especially since this cake had to travel 150 miles! Rupert went into his own little padded case to make the trip and was placed on top at the venue.

The last piece was his banner. This is really just scrapbooking stuff. Triangles of paper with the letters glued on then sewed with a needle and thread and attached with some glue stick glue to skewers which then were inserted into the tier and down through the cake almost to the bottom of the smash cake so there would be no issue of it falling over. 

Finally you will notice that I didn't use a standard cake "drum", one of those silver foil covered cake bases that I normally use, but neither did I use a standard cake plate or stand either. I wanted to continue the "jungle" type theme and this woven reed serving platter just seemed to fit the bill. I wanted to highlight this so you might use some of your own serving platters or plates to dress up your own cakes! So look around your own cabinets next time and see what you might be able to use that may add a bit more "design" to your cake!

Parker loved his cake. He dug right in and took out a chunk of it! Just what you would hope for the birthday boy! You will be able to check out the rest of his party at our Cherry blog later today including a look at the cupcakes from the Movie Theater Party!!

Have a great week! It is a week off for me but I did also make a carved cake last week so this upcoming Sunday I'll share that one with you!


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