Let them eat cake…
It’s been a summer full of family, fun and cakes! What started out as an innocent hobby and too many hours spent watching sped up cake decorating videos, turned into making over the top cakes for our little ones’ birthdays. Then evolved from there into a friend’s little girl’s birthday cake and then that turned into 2 more cakes for neighbors, and a kitchen full of cake decorating supplies! But…It’s fun though!!
Thinking back to the first cake (not the VERY first cake I made, but the first of 2021), it was an outer space theme cake for my oldest son’s GOLDEN 5th birthday in January. I really needed something to get excited about in the dead of winter, while fighting off those “after holiday blues.” I used a 6” styrofoam ball with a chopstick stuck halfway into it and a small hammer, pencil and bottle cap to make craters and then painted it in a couple different shades of grey to make it look like the moon. That was my cake topper and then I used some sanding sugar, fun frosting colors, blue and turquoise macaroons, and a Buzz Lightyear action figure to finish it off. Needless to say even though it was a pandemic birthday, it was a huge success!
The next cake was completely unplanned…when my neighbor’s mom passed away, my husband asked if we had any sympathy cards. Um…maybe? Somewhere…but since I couldn’t find one, I came up with plan B. A sympathy cake. (That’s a thing, right?) I had been playing around with fondant and gum paste, and had a few other projects in the works so I threw this cake together one afternoon and I was so happy with how it turned out.
The next cake two cakes were very intentional. First, a baptism cake for our sweet baby boy. We had postponed his first baptism date due to another rise in Covid-19 cases last fall and since we were all fully vaccinated to go ahead with a small get together in early May. I used fondant (and the help of two little kids) to make a rosary. I made the crucifix and they helped roll the fondant balls to make rosary beads. I used edible glitter paint to add some finishing touches to the rosary and draped it over a eucalyptus by Colour Mill frosted cake. (FYI I used Wilton Cake Icing Smoother to get the buttercream so perfectly smooth!) Added some Fondant Letters and voila! A simple, yet pretty, and delicious cake!!
Overall, 2021 was, in many ways, harder for us than 2020 (and I’ve heard this from others as well). We lost both my maternal grandma and paternal grandpa within 3 weeks due to COVID-19 and were unable to say goodbyes or celebrate them with family. Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend when everyone was fully vaccinated and things were starting to happen again. We had a family memorial for my grandpa and I wanted to make a cake to honor him. He was always giving me a hard time about whether or not I could cook and bake as well as I could sew. I was an apparel design major (who loves to sew) he would tease my husband when we were dating that you need to eat a lot more often than you need your clothes mended!
Since my grandpa was an animal science graduate from Iowa State University and a dairy farmer his entire life, I used fondant to make an old milk can and a mold to make two Jersey cow heads for the decorations. Colored fondant, glitter and edible pens finished the look and I made some gold, black, and white gum paste flowers to really finish off the top of the cake. For this cake I decided to take a break from my “usual” vanilla cake and instead I went with a vanilla almond cake with fresh strawberries and strawberry filling inside the layers. It was a winner when it came to flavor and I think he would’ve been proud of my baking skills too!
This is the gum paste I used for making the flowers – it dries quicker and harder than fondant and is easy to work with! Combined with this flower cut-out set, it was a fun creative project!
The “big” cake for the summer was our sweet little boy’s first birthday cake. I had been dreaming up this bright rainbow colored “Sweet One” themed party. I was going to be an ice cream party and we would have an ice cream sundae bar for the kids. Well, little did I know that we picked “National Ice Cream Day” for his party!! It was a beautiful and warm July day and it was perfect for a cool treat. (I will do a full blog post on the birthday party a little later.)
For this cake, I went with a s’mores flavored cake. A vanilla cake filled with toasted marshmallow buttercream frosting between the layers and crumbled Hershey’s chocolate bars and graham cracker crumbs filled layers. I used my favorite Ermine Buttercream for topping and decorating, and Ghirardelli white chocolate melting wafers to make a white chocolate ganache for the melting ice cream cone drip. To make the ice cream cone topper, I used rice crispy treats to make a ball and then rolled it in my melted and colored white chocolate. NOTE: when you are coloring chocolate, you must use an oil based food color – its very important as a water based gel color will not mix with the chocolate and will cause the chocolate to seize up. Or you can simply purchase candy melts in whatever color you desire!
I used sugar cones dipped in my melted chocolate and then I set it at an angle on top of the slightly cooled rice crispy dipped chocolate ball. I added some sprinkles to the “melted ice cream” and set aside to cool. When the cake was chilled, I added the “drip” to the sides and top of cake and set the ice cream topper on. Using different color fondant and an ice cream cone silicone mold, I created some mini cones for the side of the cake and attached them after the drip had set slightly but was still soft enough and wouldn’t break. Overall it was an easy assembly and I found the more thought and visualization I put into the cake assembly, the less stressful it is. Simply by breaking it down into small steps. What a fun party this was!!
The next cake was a re-creation of the ice cream cone drip cake but in a different color palette. I used pinks and lavender to make it special for our sweet neighbor girl. This time I made two tone fondant ice cream cones for the side of the cake and edible glitter to make it sparkle. The ice cream molds I used for the mini cones is this one and it was so easy and turned out so cute!
My first two cakes I made for clients were more stressful due to the simple fact that the first one was two days after our oldest started his very first day of school EVER! I was already slightly stressed, so thinking I could pull off a rock star cake was bad planning on my part (live and learn, right?!). BUT, the first one was a Chicago Cubs baseball theme cake and overall it was a really fun project. I enjoyed the challenge of forming a baseball and bat out of rice crispy treat and covering them in fondant. Using a Cake Boss fondant tool kit (that I absolutely LOVE – not sponsored, btw) I have been able to sculpt and create lots of fondant and gum paste cake toppers.
The second “professional” cake I made for a client was a tractor theme cake for a little farmboy’s second birthday. This one was fun and challenging and much less stressful than the baseball cake simply because it was a less busy week for us around here! It was a John Deere tractor theme, and as my hubs reminded me, ALWAYS ask color when talking about tractors. People are VERY particular about their tractors! Again using rice crispy treats, I formed a tractor then covered it in green fondant. Using black (precolored) fondant I made wheels and trim. I used yellow fondant for some sunflowers and trim, and made a simple brown fondant fence to go around the bottom of the cake. Just using a simple ombré blue buttercream effect, and blue marbled fondant name paired with a green drip and this cake was complete. What do you think – will there be more tractor cakes in my future? Knowing our little farm kids, I think YES! Possibly even an Oliver brand tractor or a pink John Deere tractor for Miss E (she’s always pretending to drive tractors, busses or construction equipment :-D).
The final cake was possibly one of the first I started working on (many months ago). I started on this one because I thought it would be a ‘simple’ intro to working with fondant. Basic skills like coloring and rolling fondant into long strands (my kids say worms) made an easy rainbow cake topper. Rolling different sized balls of fondant and then covering them with white fondant made a really cute cloud to go at the base of the rainbow. Adding some white letters to spell Miss E’s name to the rainbow really made it special. The final step was assembly and I used pinks, purple and orange ermine buttercream frosting for the cake. Ta-Da!! One special birthday cake to brighten up a day where we were all feeling under the weather! (And had to cancel her party because of it. I’m still trying to decide when we are going to smash the piñata..?)
I hope you enjoyed or learned something new from this post. I will try to post links to the things that I used – again this is not a sponsored post, simply sharing things I use and what has worked for me :-). In the future I may go into more detail of each cake if anyone is interested in that. Xoxo, Erin