Thursday, October 17, 2013

"There's a hair on this cake"

When I was in the midst of making this cake back in July for my brother-in-law's birthday, I had no intention of posting it on my blog. I wasn't quite sure how it was going to turn out as I have only done two carved cakes before and the subject matter was a little, shall we say, inelegant. 
Let me give a little bit of context to this cake. Back in May, I bought my sister a birthday card on which there was a rather hairy lad posing with barely there cutoff shorts and on the inside of the card it said something along the lines of "see, there are worse things than getting older." My sister's husband thought the card was rather gross and based on his reaction, I had decided to make this cheeky cake for his birthday. 

The three photos on the left were taken with my iPhone as I was making the cake to keep my sister up to date on progress, but I thought that I would include them to show how it was made. Each 'cheek' was made from two 6" round cakes that were about 1.5 to 2 inches high and I used two 9x13" cakes that were about 1 to 1.5" high for the lower back and legs. Prior to carving the cake, I had sketched the general shape out onto freezer paper and used this as a template. I filled and stacked the cakes and placed them in the fridge for the buttercream to harden. I trimmed the general shape of the cheeks and then placed the lower back and legs pieces together with the cheeks. Once it was together, I carved the shape of the cheeks to fit with the body. After I was pleased with the shape, I crumb-coated the whole thing in buttercream and placed it in the fridge to set. 

Now, typically I cover my boards in fondant as it provides a much more finished look to your overall cake. It is a bit of a pet peeve of mine to see an amazingly executed cake on a foil board when I know that cake would have taken many, many hours to make and it would have only been an extra few minutes to cover the board in fondant. In this case, since the cake was a joke for my family, and I hadn't planned to post photos and I wasn't 100% confident it would turn out, I did not cover my board and carved the cake directly on the board. If you were to cover your board in fondant, you would need to cut out a cardboard cake board to the shape of the cake, carve and cover your cake on that, and then carefully transfer the cake to the finished fondant-covered board. 

Once the buttercream was set, it was ready to be covered in flesh-coloured fondant. I have to say that it was quite humourous smoothing the fondant on this cake as I had to use my hands primarily versus a fondant smoother. I used a bulbulous cone modelling tool and dogbone tool to define the cheeks and the legs.

To create some of the hair, I used very fine pieces of brown gumpaste and carefully placed these in the fondant before the fondant dried. As you can see in the picture, due to the difference in temperature between the cold buttercream and the humid July weather, the fondant started to 'sweat' a little (how appropriate). Sweaty fondant is not really a big deal. Just don't touch it and it will dry just fine. 

I used a stitching tool and veining tool for the details on the cutoff jean shorts. I used a bit of dark yellow petal dust to simulate yellow stitching on the jeans. I wish I had purchased a few different shades of blue petal dust to add some more depth to the denim. The frayed edges were made using an extruder and a few different shades of blue.

The rest of the hair was added using brown edible marker. Now from the carving pictures above, I don't need to tell you that the cake wasn't chocolate. Somehow that just seemed like it would be going a bit too far and I was certain that no one would want to eat a chocolate cake if they got past the sight of the external appearance. The cake was vanilla and the swiss meringue buttercream was banana cream flavour.

The cake was quite a surprise. My brother-in-law had guessed that I had made him a basketball-themed cake. He was a good sport about it and we got some memorable photos of the occasion. I feel like I should make some form of butt pun for the end of this post but I shall refrain. My next post should be along shortly as I'm not sure how long I want this to be the first thing people see when visiting my blog!

Monday, October 14, 2013

An elephant-themed first birthday cake

It has been almost 3 months since my last post. I have done some baking within that time but I haven't had the time to sort through photos and write about them. I am hoping to complete my MSc within the next year so I've been really scaling down on the baking projects. I do certainly miss it as a creative outlet but I'll get back to it soon enough. In the meantime, I will be posting a few projects that I had done in the summer. 

This was an elephant-themed birthday cake for the first birthday of a friend's son that I made back in July. I apologize for the grainy photo quality. I didn't check the settings on the camera before I started taking photos so I didn't notice that the ISO had been set really high. 

My friend really liked the elephant cake that I did for a baby shower back in March. The birthday boy's favourite colour is yellow and we thought that brown would be a nice contrast colour. I wanted to make the cake a little different from the other elephant and decided to do a 3-dimensional elephant instead. 
I've made 3-D animals in the past and they usually consist of a separate body, limbs and head. For this cake I wanted to keep the "Republican" elephant shape, meaning that it had to be formed with one piece of fondant. It was harder than I thought to manipulate the one piece of fondant into the desired shape, particularly with the trunk. The fondant that I use dries rather quickly and it was mixed with tylose for stability, so I really had to work fast. It took a couple of tries before I was satisfied with the shape. In retrospect, I wonder if it would have been easier to use modelling chocolate as it is easier to manipulate without seams and wrinkles. 

The balloon was made from gumpaste for fast drying and attached to floral wire. I had to make the balloon fairly thin as the floral wire was a higher gauge (thinner) and I wanted it to be able to support the balloon without putting any weight on the elephant's trunk. In the future I will keep some heavier gauge floral wire on hand. 

I wrote the birthday boy's name out on little modelling paste circus flags and used an extruder for the fondant 'string' and bows. 

The flavour was a rich chocolate cake with raspberry swiss meringue buttercream. For the buttercream I used thawed frozen raspberries, pureed them and then strained them for a fine mesh sieve to get rid of all of the seeds. It was a subtle raspberry flavour. If you want a more concentrated flavour you could probably reduce the puree on the stove and allow to cool before adding it to the buttercream.