Happy Sunday! This week brought us a party that we not only had the pleasure of working but also the honor of doing the cake. Working a party for a family member or a friend is definitely an honor but it's also a whole lot of fun too. Rosie just retired and two of her friends wanted to celebrate it up right. That is where I come in since one of those friends is also my friend. I, myself, have known Rosie in a "stop and chat for a moment" level for several years and have come to know her as a truly wonderful woman so I was SO happy to have the opportunity to help plan and execute this party with her friends.
They decided upon a Hawaii themed party so, as they were talking about it this cake design came into my head. I sketched it out with a palm tree for them (more on the palm tree later) and they loved the idea of the chair on the sand at the edge of the water.The chair ended up being the hardest part of this whole cake. The rest of it went together in 2 hours...the chair took four days. In Northern California we are experiencing a heatwave. That isn't too unexpected in this area but the extremely high levels of humidity is totally unusual! Humidity is a killer for fondant. It makes it very soft...makes it very hard to dry to a solid state and makes it very hard to glue together...well, without using a hot glue gun. Believe me, I was very tempted by the 4th day to do just that!
For the chair I just looked at a photo of a Adirondack beach chair and cut out pieces I thought would work. Yup, totally winging it. Then I let them dry...and dry....and dry. Finally, after 3 days (what would normally be 3 hours) they were dry enough to try to glue together. After several hours I got it to the point where I could prop the pieces all together and pray they were dry by day 5. And, yes, I was tempted to go to the toy store and buy a plastic one! By the way...this is what happened to the planned palm tree. After days of waiting for leaves to dry, fighting with them to stand up on the cookie tree base because they were not fully dry even after 5 days, even resorting to hot gluing them into place...the umbrella just looked better. So I went with the umbrella.
So here is how the cake actually came together. It was a vanilla chiffon cake filled with lemon curd butter cream and then frosted with more butter cream. It was just a very light layer of butter cream since I knew more was going on top and fondant was going on the sides. I ground up cookies for the sand (I prefer vanilla wafers even if you have to grind them up more than you do graham crackers) and sprinkled them on one half of the cake. Then I mixed up some blue butter cream for the water and then piped it onto the cake using a large star tip. I smoothed it out into an uneven pattern for the choppy water.
To make the grass skirt I rolled out the teal colored fondant into an 8x4 inch rectangle. I scored a half inch line horizontally across the fondant and then cut down from the line vertically in thin strips all along the rectangle. After cutting the strips it is pretty hard to pick up the whole piece so I cut each rectangle into three sections and adhered them onto the cake. As a caker we are use to fighting with pieces to go on straight...the grass skirts needed to NOT go on straight to give an illusion of movement and the three section idea worked really well for this. Finally 8x1 inch strips of yellow fondant, cut out with the wavy side of the cutting tool, were put on as the top of the skirt. I placed it a teeny bit higher than the top edge of the cake so it stood up a bit. Little orange "hibiscus" flowers were added to hide those seams. As a finishing touch I went back to the top of the cake, used a small spoon to help me get the cookies all the way to the edge of the trim and then smoothed out the "water" to the edges as well. This sealed the top of the cake for a cleaner presentation.
At this point I placed the chair onto the sand and the umbrella behind it. The umbrella is actually an umbrella straw that I cut the top off of and taped the umbrella into an open state. I made the little shells that go next to the chair and the umbrella stand and then decided it just wasn't enough. Rosie needed fun little creatures who were happy she was retiring too! So I made the little crab and octopus to go with it. The crab is all one piece but the octopus is actually 9 different pieces placed into the butter cream.
Whenever I make this type of themed cake I try to put in a few details made just for that person. Rosie is a deeply religious person so on one arm of the chair I put a Bible. But she's a fun person too so I put a fru-fru drink, including pineapple slice and straw, on the other arm! Everything she needed to relax on the beach. It was these details that brought her to tears when she saw it. It's always nice to get the paycheck but it's reactions like hers that are the real payday.
After allowing her friends and family to get photos of the cake Rosie then removed the chair, shells and crab so she could keep them. Fondant will just keep on drying out till it is rock hard as long as you keep it away from humidity. My mom has a tea set I made for one of her birthday cakes about 5 years ago! You can store it in a protective case but make sure that it's not air tight. It needs to be able to breathe or the humidity will build up as it dries out.
I will post all of the party photos tomorrow morning on the Cherry Party Blog! Check out this entire theme and how it came together! As always you can get daily tips and tricks on our Facebook Fan Page! See you there!