Happy Sunday! This past week brought an animal themed, specifically Giraffe themed, baby shower cake! This 8 inch by 5 inch high and 6 inch by 3 inch high cake was vanilla cake on top and red velvet on the bottom. YUM!
The challenge in this cake was the bow. It was made from chocolate fondant which is a very soft fondant so I actually ended up making the bow 3 times before I got one I really liked. The other challenge was the figures. I couldn't find a cookie cutter that I liked so I ended up just rolling out the fondant and then cutting the shapes out with an exacto knife.
To do this easier I mixed the fondant with a little bit of tylose so it would dry up firmer faster. After just a couple of hours the shapes were fairly firm and by the next morning they were very hard. This was very important for placing them onto the cake because I didn't want them to bend at all.
A really tall cake like this one takes a bit of time and effort to cover smoothly with fondant. The weight of the fondant wants to drag it down and then rip, tear or "elephant" skin. None of the effects you want in a nicely covered cake! So you have to cover it very carefully and smooth it down as quickly as you can.
The zebra stripes were hand cut out of squares of rolled out fondant. I just sort of let the knife swoosh down the square and then applied it with a bit of water on a cake brush to stick that to the cake. The giraffe shapes were a bit different. I actually used a small square cookie cutter and cut a whole bunch of squares out of rolled fondant and then cut off the odd edge or three and then smoothed the sharper edges before placing them onto the cake.
I added the trim and draping ribbons to the cake and then the bow. The last items were the plaque and the giraffe figures. I used butter cream to apply them to the cake and then piped the design on them while they were on the cake.
A word about structure. The bottom cake is set upon a cake round and then dowels are placed into the center of the cake. For an 8 inch cake and smaller I use 4 dowels. I then pipe a bit of buttercream into the center of the dowels. The top tier is also on a cake round and that is what touches the dowels. It doesn't really touch the cake. It rests on the dowels and is held in place by the buttercream. The last step before placing the bow on top was the insertion of a center dowel that goes all the way from the top of the cake to the bottom cake board. This holds the cake steady so that the top tier can not slide off of the bottom tier. This stability isn't so important if you are not going to travel anywhere with the cake but if you are driving anywhere you will want that security measure in place. The rule of thumb is place a cake round and dowels for every four inches of cake. However, I have to say that even if you are stacking a 3 inch cake on top of a two inch round I would still use dowels to make it more stable.
The cake was a hit in both looks and taste and that is always my goal. Make the cake taste at least as good as it looks! I have seen many gorgeous cakes that didn't taste like much of anything or actually tasted bad and it really doesn't make a great impression for the guest. I'm happy when I see empty plates coming back to the cake table asking for another slice. Then I know I've done my job well!
Next week I'm going to be featuring cupcakes! These make for easy outdoor summer treats that are not only easy to make but to take to the park and to eat. In the meantime check out our Cherry Party Blog tomorrow to see a gorgeous baby shower and, as always, get lots of ideas each day on our Facebook Fan Page! See you then!