So in my “about” bit, I state that I’m a bit of an extreme baker, but I have yet to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak. So I thought I’d better show you the goods, and fess up to how it came about.
I can blame it all on my daughter (because I know she will be blaming things on me for the rest of her life, so it’s only fair play). It started with the second birthday parties (not the first – oddly enough). Here’s a quick pictorial stroll through the last three years of her birthday cakes:
Year 1 – Store bought caterpillar
Year 2 – Home made 3-D Elmo
Here’s where it starts to get interesting. One of Monk’s friends mother’s did an Angelina Ballerina cake, and although the cake was the same as the previous year, the decoration was really nice. Another mother did home made cupcakes with special butterfly decorations – again – really pretty. So I took the challenge and went with it. Ergo, Elmo.
And took it to the next level. Elmo’s body is made out of madeira / pound cake, and his head, eyes and nose are made of sculpted rice crispie treats covered in fondant. He’s sitting on a three layer red velvet cake. And all that buttercream was also made from scratch. Took a few weeks to bake the cakes (bake and freeze to sculpt later), then about two days to assemble.
Seeing that I was feeding a small group of two year olds, there was a lot of cake left over. I had very appreciative co-workers, who also got a bit fed up with the cake after a while.
Year 3 – Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom cake
When my daughter asked for Ben and Holly (a cartoon about an Elf and a Fairy, broadly), I thought it would be easier than Elmo, so readily agreed. How wrong I was. And of course, after a teddy bear cake, some lovely chocolate cupcakes, and cherry blossom cupcakes, and of course, expectations from Elmo, I had to take it to a little bit of an extreme. And fortunately, in a way, I was “between jobs” for a few weeks during this time so time was not a factor. Good thing too, as this took me the better part of a week to decorate, baking aside.
The base cake is a standard two layer rainbow cake with basic vanilla buttercream (always good to go with basic flavours for the under 6 crowd, I think). The flowers are store bought, however. Ben, Holly, and their pet ladybug/ladybird were modelled out of fondant icing blocks with toothpicks to secure the parts and act as skeletons. The base of the castle is a few layers of a simple sponge cake, whilst the tower is made out of a buttermilk cake that was amazing from The Joy of Cooking. I wigged out with the top of the tower and just covered some cardboard in purple fondant.
I also make a second lemon cake, one layer, simple lemon frosting, with a fairy princess on top, to share with the family only on her actual birthday.
Due to the whole between jobs bit, the cake stayed at home – I was out of work for 5 weeks, and spent the first two of those getting a new job, one and a half weeks baking and decorating, and the last week and a half just eating cake. Needless to say, I started my new job rather heavier than I was when I left my previous position.
We are already in the planning stages for birthday four. At the moment, it will be a little mermaid cake. As her birthday coincides with my company’s year end, I’m not sure how it’s all going to work out time wise. I can only promise that, as I have no idea, and little inclination to figure out, how to sculpt a mermaid out of cake (and how appropriate would that be with four year olds – can you imagine strategically placing shells?), and similar zeal for sculpting her out of gumpaste or fondant, I’ll be turning to a store bought Little Mermaid doll, which she can play with later, to put on a more simple layer cake … Or at least that’s what I’m saying now. Fourth birthday season hasn’t yet begun, and I just don’t know when the evil gremlin that tells me it must be best, will rear it’s head and take over…