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Monday, March 1, 2010

Happy 1st Birthday, Malaya!: Completed

Happy 1st Birthday, Malaya!
(+15 skill points => 270 / 400)



(03/01/2010)  I totally forgot this post was sitting in my edit queue!   Well, this was supposed to be posted a week ago, but my life got completely taken over by the cake competition.  Better late than never!

(originally written 02/20/2010)

This past weekend was my cousin's daughter's first birthday party!  I had the honor of making the cake for the party and Malaya's smash cake.  The cake and I had to resort to plan B many times, but in the end, I think it was a job well done.


 3 tier party cake:
  • top tier: 6" round Duncan Hines Red Velvet with Cheesecake Mousse
  • middle tier: 8" round Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge with Oreo Mousse
  • bottom tier: 10" round Duncan Hines Red Velvet with Cheesecake Mousse
  • iced with "Vanilla Italian Meringue Buttercream" (new recipe for me)
  • Royal Icing ball border
  • Michele Foster's Fondant accents
Smash cake:
  • single layer 6" round Duncan Hines Red Velvet
  • iced with IndyDebi's buttercream
  • reverse scroll border
  • Michele Foster's fondant accents
  • Wilton sprinkles on the side
It was bound to happen.  This cake was my first all-nighter.  That's what I get for procrastinating.  I've been pretty busy at home and at work, so I never really got a head start on this cake except for the baking.  On Friday night, all I had was thawed cake.  I started everything else at 11 pm and stopped Saturday morning at 8 am for a brief 2 hour nap, then back to finish the cake before the party.   It was actually nice to not have any interruptions like a crying baby or going to work.  Also I got a clear picture of how long it takes to make a 3 tiered cake from start to finish.

My previous post described how I decorated the cake drum.

Next up was making fondant.  I tried Michele Foster's fondant recipe from cakecentral.com, and believe me, it's worth all the hassle.  There are pros and cons to this recipe, but it was a great learning experience.

Cons:  The fondant will be off-white because of the butter.  Also, plain gelatin smells like dirty socks.  It doesn't taste as good as MMF, but it's better than Satin Ice and Wilton brands.

Pros: The fondant is super stretchy.  It has the consistency of bubble gum.  I could take a lump and pull it apart with both hands and it will stretch like melted mozzarella with no cracks or breaks.  Here are my loops for the intended bow topper.  I tried to color it to match the cake drum.

Those were set aside to dry.  Next cake leveling, torting, damming, filling, and spackling.  Not many pictures because I was too busy making the darn thing.


I made a batch of IndyDebi's buttercream to be used for the spackle and damming.



All of the cakes were spackled.  I wanted to make sure everything was straight, even, and sturdy.  Nothing was gonna happen to this cake ... not on my watch!


My co-worker convinced me to try this IMBC recipe.  He said his kids love it; they like it better than the recipe I've always used.  I had to fight for a long time to get this IMBC stable.  After adding the melted sugar to meringue, I have a bad habit to not let it alone long enough to cool.  I started adding butter and it completely destabilized.  It was so liquidy, it was flinging gunk everywhere.  My shirt and back kitchen wall was covered.  I made a make-shift plastic wrap tent, but eventually stopped trying to add butter.  I stuck it in the fridge for a while.  After a few minutes I tried again, but no luck.  I stuck it in the freezer for a while.  That made it a little better, so I added the rest of the butter.  It was still too cold (it gets looking like cottage cheese at that point), so I set it over a pot of boiling water to warm it up.  Jeez, this stuff is high maintenance!  I eventually got it stabilized.  Unfortunately the color was too yellow for my liking.  Luckily this is for a baby girl, so light yellow is always good.

The tiers were supported with bubble tea straws.  When it came time to place a tier on top of another, I only partially inserted the straws.  Once the tier was placed over them, I let gravity take the rest of it down gradually so I could slip my fingers out from under it.  I left my spatula underneath so I could coast it down and shimmy it in to place.

For the smash cake, I only had a little bit of IndyDebi buttercream.  I thinned it down with some milk.  Unfortunately that made it too unwieldy to smooth well.  In desperation I grabbed a bottle of huge Wilton confetti sprinkles and lined them up all along the side.  Good save, if I may say!

I didn't even attempt to pipe "Happy Birthday, Malaya".  I knew my piping still sucks and was not willing to mess anything up.  The smash cake got topped with some pretty ribbon roses and a cut-out 1.  The leaves were free-hand cut because I couldn't find my leaf cutters (which I later discovered were practically right in front of me).

Reverse shells make everything look better!

Unfortunately the mousse requires refrigeration, which called for some creative organization between our main and mini fridge.

The bead borders around the main tiers were royal icing with a dollop of corn syrup.  This made it look shinier and kept it soft.

I had to ditch the bow topper idea.  I didn't make nearly enough loops, the ones I had weren't dry enough, and I couldn't for the life of me figure out how to arrange them in a non-stupid manner.  Ribbon roses to the rescue!!!  This was my first try at ribbon roses ... they are so simple and cute! 

I had a wonderful time making this cake and was so proud to share it with my family.  The birthday girl was a little too tired to smash the smash cake, but everyone else enjoyed.  I received several compliments on the look and taste of the cake.  The top 2 tiers were devoured quickly!

Happy Birthday, Malaya!


I've had a couple weeks break to think about my past cakes.  Here are my conclusions:

  • I don't prefer this IMBC recipe.
    • My end result was too yellow; not the color I was shooting for but still ok, I guess.  This probably wouldn't be acceptable if it were an adult's birthday cake.
    • Waaay too much butter.  It didn't taste bad at all, but I'm just not comfortable putting so many sticks of butter into one thing.  I'm not big on butter in cooking or eating either.
    • IMBC was too finicky.  First it was too hot, then it was too cold.  Jeez!  I don't need this in my life!
  • Not enough time.  
    • It's been an unbelievably busy month for me.  I didn't have any time to prepare much in advance except for the baked cake.  The all-nighter was unavoidable.  
    • I would really have liked to have more time to get the buttercream flawless.  No one really notices all the flaws, but I know I could have gotten it smoother.  Boy, your "icing" arm can really get tired after doing 3 tiers in one shot!
  • I don't know how to make a bow!
    • I really need to follow directions and/or practice making a loopy bow.
  • covered cake drum badge earned!
  • ribbon rose badge earned!
  • smash cake badge earned!
  • Sprinkles saved the smash cake.  I originally bought those huge confetti sprinkles for another cake, but decided to go in a different direction.  It was pure luck that they happened to be the same colors I was using and in a great size and shape.
  • Tasted fantastic! 
    • Costco Mousse is the way to go for great tasting filling.  It was nice and stable.  It didn't effect the cake that was in direct contact with it.
    • I received several compliments on how "the cake was so good!"
    • It's really nice to have a cake that looks and tastes good.  Either way is such a treat, but to have both ... that's what awesome is made of.

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