Originally posted March 10-14, 2008
Whew…what a week! There were a lot of cakes due this week, and most of them were due on Friday, which meant a bit of a rush. I was in charge of five cakes and I will go through four of them here:
-Soccer ball cake
-Purple “bling” cake
-Funky seashells cake – with help from Margie and Handi on the Funkies
Here is a picture of me with the nearly-completed cakes from this week:
Soccer ball cake
The soccer ball was one of my most challenging cakes this week, but also one of my favorites since I used to play. Go Ames Flames!
It looks deceptively simple: round ball, black pentagons, some grass, etc., but it was actually extremely time-consuming. There was a lot of structure involved in setting up this cake. The bottom half of the ball is composed of Styrofoam, and carving a perfectly round half-ball out of Styrofoam is harder than you might think! The board sits on top of that. I used a 9” board to make a size 5 ball since it is pretty close in size. There is a pole through the styro and about halfway up through the cake on the top half of the ball to hold everything in place…having the ball roll right of the board would be a little bit disastrous. Jonny mentioned once it was finished that he would like to kick it. That would be disastrous too. I had to keep an eye on him for the rest of the afternoon…
To get the ganache perfectly round too, Ritzy taught me a trick. Hold up a 9” board behind the cake as you spin it on a cake stand to see where you need to add or take away ganache to get a perfectly round shape. She is a genius.
Covering was a particular challenge. Handi said I should cover it in the same way I cover a figurine head, but the problem with the soccer ball was that I couldn’t pick it up and turn it sideways the same way I do with a figurine.
Next was putting on the panels. I brought in a real size 5 ball to measure the size of the panels so I could get them right on the cake. I cut a pattern piece out of cardboard and started working from the top of the cake down to the bottom making indentations with the back of a knife for all of the seams. It is next to impossible to get all of the panels to end up perfectly, simply because the cake is not precisely round and measuring the panels from the cardboard piece results in a small amount of human error. I am not a machine! But I thought it turned out fairly well anyway.
Next I spent quite a while painting on the black panels and the seams between them. I used a mixture of black food coloring and alcohol. So far, so good!
Next were a few finishing touches including grass, candles, a message, and some pro soccer team emblems printed onto rice paper, and it was done:
For another perspective, Anna-Maria said that she used to do the black panels differently. She cut them out of black icing, adhered them to the cake, and piped the seams black in between them. That would probably be much faster, but wouldn’t give you the indentations you see on a real soccer ball. AM, as she is called at Planet Cake, is one of the most organized, efficient, and energetic people I know. It must have something to do with that Austrian background of hers…
Speaking of Anna-Maria, she deserves a big congratulations for her winning entry in the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Congrats Anna-Maria! Here is a picture of her fantastic entry:
ANNA-MARIA’S ROYAL EASTER SHOW ENTRY
The alien cake was really fun. I started by covering the head and carving the body of the Funky astronaut out of Styrofoam. The Styro room was a little crowded this week…
To cover the cake, I made small rings of icing and placed them on top of the ganached cake before covering the entire cake with the green icing. This created the craters. I had to push the centers in a little bit with a ball tool after the green icing was placed over the top, and then pressed small black circles into the middle of each of them.
A close-up of the finished Funky…his eyes need to be a bit closer next time:
The alien was just made out of a piece of icing and the antennae were pieces of dried cellophane noodles with icing balls on top. Fully edible! (As an interesting side note, everyone at Planet Cake has a different name for the cellophane noodles. Anna-Maria calls them mung bean noodles, Handi calls them glass noodles, and Ritzy says they are called “haru same” in Japanese, which translates literally to “spring rain,” since they are clear and flowing…just like the spring rain.)
Here is Jonny’s design drawing…
…and the finished cake.
Purple “Bling” cake
This cake deserves the Most-Frustrating-Cake-of-the-Week Award. Because it was a very clean, simple design with only a skinny ribbon around the base, it showed even the smallest of flaws.
It took quite a bit of purple food coloring to make the deep shade I needed to match the ribbon sample provided by the client. This, along with the icing being exposed while I mixed in the color for so long, produced a weird texture (and fairly dry) icing. Putting dry icing over a square cake is no easy feat, let me tell you. Handi had to come to the rescue a little bit on part of the 12” tier, but I managed the others myself.
After stacking the 3 tiers, filling in some gaps with icing, and lining the base of each tier with purple ribbon, I was ready to start putting on the bling. First I printed out each of the letters from the computer and traced them onto tracing paper. Then, in a trick I learned from my Grandma (and was reminded of by Anna-Maria), I traced the lines on the back side of the paper with an 2B pencil, placed the sheets of paper on the cake where I wanted them to go, and re-traced the original lines, transferring the pencil lines onto the hardened icing. This told me exactly where I needed to place the bling.
I started out painting piping gel onto each individual diamonte, picking it up with tweezers, and putting it into the perfect place on the cake.
I would literally have been there for hours if Handi had not shown me this trick. Painting the piping gel along the traced lines on the cake saved me from painting each individual piece of bling. Then, instead of picking up each one with the tweezers, I picked them up with my finger, dampened with water, placed them on the piping gel lines, and then rearranged with the tweezers so they were all in the correct locations. Handi is so clever.
The florist placed fresh flowers and the “A” and “S” bling cake toppers shown on the design drawing on top of the cake at the reception site.
Funky seashells cake
Here is Antony’s design drawing:
The first thing that had to be done for this cake was the shells. They were completed early in the week so that they would have time to dry before I needed to place them on the cake. They were made by pressing icing into shell molds, and painted with a mixture of ivory and brown food coloring and alcohol.
Next I stacked the two tiers and drew on the waves with a pencil. The coloring was mixed (blue on the top and teal on the bottom, each mixed with alcohol) and painted on. I found that to be a little bit tricky, as you basically get one swipe with a large brush before brush-strokes become prominent and distracting. Let’s just say it is always good to start on the back side. The wavy gold line was just piped on in white royal icing, following the pencil line, and then painted gold. The snail trail around the base went on last so that I wouldn’t drip any blue on it when painting on the waves.
The shells, flowers, and pearls were all placed on the sides of the cake, and then the Funkies were put on top.
They were worked on by myself, Handi, and Margie. Margie did the bodies and surfboard, Handi did the clothes, faces, and hair, and I took care of the arms and the other various paraphernalia on the top of the cake (sand and sand castles, martini glass, towels, shells, and sunscreen).
The delivery-person came for the cake as I was boxing it, so I didn’t have an extra minute to check everything over as I usually do. Unfortunately, this meant that I forgot to send the 3 cupcakes that were added to the order out with the cake, which I felt pretty badly about…but everything got there in the end!
A couple of other fun things from this week
Ritzy worked on a masquerade mask…now that’s a lot of cake!
RITZY’S MASQUERADE MASK
And a shout-out to Margie, who does amazing things every week. Here is a picture of Margie working on her jungle tree cake:
I was a bit worried about her as this was her second late night in the workroom and she was starting to look a bit like Shrek as she placed the jungle leaves in her hair instead of on the cake…amazing, don’t you think?
MARGIE’S JUNGLE TREE CAKE
Finally, it was my birthday lunch on Wednesday this week, so we went down the road to the Exchange Hotel and had a wonderful meal and a good time just relaxing together for a little while. Thanks, Paris!