Monday, June 20, 2011

60th Birthday Cake

A friend of mine from TWU recently asked me to make a cake for her mom's surprise 60th birthday party.  Considering she was my first "customer" I'm always flattered when she asks.  The theme was black, white, and red, and thankfully she only wanted white on the cake.  (Her party planner and I agreed that it's bad when your guests are walking around with red and black cake dye all over their tongues and lips!)  We traded a few designs and ideas and settled on a two-tier, wedding-style cake with a pearl theme.  She wanted a bowl of pearls spilling out around the cake, fondant pearls around the base of each tier, and white pearls on an ivory background. 

I made my usual buttercream frosting recipe with some ivory coloring.  The bottom tier was vanilla (white cake), and the top tier was red velvet.  I had enough red velvet left over to make a small, two-tier side cake in case she needed some emergency slices for unexpected guests.  I made some yummy marshmallow fondant by hand for the pearls around the base and painted them with pearl dust to give them that pearly glow.  At this point, the cake looks like this:

I had purchased a pretty glass dish (Libby glass, of course, for those of you who don't know my penchant for their stuff since my Louisiana days) for the pearls to spill out of and also picked up 10+ yards of stringed pearls from the craft store.  I was concerned that the glass bowl would lose its balance on the top tier, and compared to the luster of the painted fondant pearls I thought the string of pearls looked kinda cheap.  This is where I went into overachiever mode:

Yep, those are approximately 5.3 gazillion fondant pearls that I rolled for the cake.  Of course, I still had the concern about the top-heaviness of the glass bowl, so I took it a step further and, in keeping with the ivory/white theme, made my own bowl:

That is a bowl made of white chocolate, which matched the cake icing beautifully.  I filled the bowl with the tiny pearls and made four strands of those tiny pearls cascading around the cake:

As usual, I critique the finished product to figure out where I've grown and where I need to improve.  I am really happy to report that I sawed away at this cake's layers and avoided the lopsided-ness that was the castle cake of 2010.  (Funny enough, I read an article the day I baked and trimmed the cakes that said that frugal people have the hardest time levelling cakes because they are scared they're wasting perfectly good food...I so connected with that and it helped my rationalize what I was doing wrong!).  The area I'd like to improve upon is my icing smoothness and crumbiness (a real word, or at least it is now).  I don't know if it was particularly hot in my kitchen that day but even my Viva towel smoothing tricks weren't working.  I did the crumb coat but when I went to apply the final coat it rewetted the crumb coat and got crumbs in the final coat (especially red velvet, since it's dark red under a layer of white).  The good news about this cake is that I am more in love with the finished product than the picture I had in my head, and it usually doesn't turn out that way.  I'm so happy I took the time to make the tiny fondant balls and paint the big ones with the pearl dust.  It made it look so pretty, and it's a great technique that really gets you a lot of "pop" on the cake.

1 comment:

  1. Okay...seriously, this is a spectacular cake. You should be doing this on the Food Network!!