My landlord, D, is one of the most amazing people that I’ve ever met.  She’s so creative and caring, and living with her has been a fantastic experience.  She’s encouraged me to pursue my travels (hi, Australia tickets!), consider my dreams (in chocolate & chiropractic), and live in the moment.  She’s one of the first people in my life that has made me feel like its OK to not work 24/7 and that spoiling myself is an occasional necessity.  She approves of my sassy boots, and completely understands when I forgo vacuuming on a Monday night because I need to catch up on Gossip Girl.

A couple of weeks ago we were chatting and I was talking to her about my topsy-turvy cake class.  Oh, I forgot to mention that to you, didn’t I?  Well… here’s a picture of my not-so-perfect topsy-turvy cake that I created with the help of Tracy at Spun Sugar:

Topsy-Turvy "Baby Shower/Wilma Flinstone" Cake

Here’s my problem with these cakes:  In order to make them look pretty you have to use a cake with a “tight crumb” (aka: doesn’t taste good), and you also need to use “mixed buttercream” (aka: REALLY doesn’t taste good) in order for the cake to hold together, and then its recommended that you chill the cake in between steps (which also doesn’t make it taste good).  So I used terrible tasting cake, and terrible tasting frosting, and guess what… my cake still slid all over and came out looking wonky.  WTF.

All ranting aside, I suppose they can look kinda cute.  You really have to make sure to exaggerate the angles though otherwise it’ll just end up looking blobby and weird.  Oh, and for really vibrant & fun colors you should start with a pre-colored fondant.

ANYWAYSSSSS, back to my story:

I was talking to D about my cake and the class when she suddenly inturrupts me and goes, “HEY! Will you make me a cake?!?!”  I stopped talking, and looked at her quizzically, and then she began to explain that she decided to throw a surprise “Miss Sixty!” birthday party for her mom, Auntie Lyd.  D needed a cake to feed about 20-30 people, and she’d sort of forgotten about that part until I had shown her my lovely topsy-turvy mess.

“Will you do it?  Please, please??” She asked.

Of course I agreed.  I need more baking practice anyways, and its PERFECT when you can bake and then not have to eat the final product yourself.  She requested a lemon cake and then gave me what Grammy would call, “creative license,” for the rest.

PREPARATION:

I spent the next couple of days brainstorming and taking inventory of the supplies that I had.  Normally people request cupcakes, so I was mildly peeved when I realized that ALL of my cake pans are still in storage at my Mom’s house.  Yup, had to buy ANOTHER 6″ and 8″ round pan, but I guess one can never have too many round pans…  My ultimate plan looked like this:  A two layer Lemon Cake with Vanilla Swiss Buttercream icing and gum paste Calla Lily decorations.

PS: I’ve never used gum paste in my life.

I will not lie, I didn’t have the time or extra money to make the cake itself from scratch.  So I decided to use boxed Lemon Cake mix from Betty C, and doctor it up with fresh lemon zest & Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract.  I borrowed the frosting recipe from Martha.  This tried and true buttercream is absolutely the most indulgent thing ever, and I figured it would go over great with everyone.  It is super buttery, so you might use a touch of lemon extract to cut the intensity, but ultimately it is the smoothest, silkiest, and yummiest icing ever.

The gum paste was another adventure that I’d like to claim that I conquered easily.  I must have watched like 10 gum paste how-to’s on YouTube last Friday, but they all paid off!  My flowers looked very similar to the flowers online, but I’m definitely going to need a class to get the technique down.  The best video was a 4-part series by Edna De La Cruz.  Her video was very easy to follow and understand.  She was very thorough, and though my flowers didn’t turn out like hers, I was still very pleased with the outcome.

One of my flowers... (via iPhone photo)

THE BIG DAY

Alarms went off at 9am on Saturday morning, but I still managed to hit the snooze until 11.  Oops.  To be fair, I wasn’t feeling 100% so the extra sleep helped my mood immensely.  Methodically, I baked & whipped & leveled & frosted for a solid 5 hours with the sounds of Ghost Hunters International keeping me company in the background.

I only had one major disaster – I dropped the top tier while trying to place it on the cake.  Did it frustrate me? Yes, absolutely! But it wasn’t anything that a good amount of icing wouldn’t fix.

All in all, I’d say it turned out pretty well for one of my first stacked, buttercream-only cake.  What do you think???

Happy Birthday Auntie Lyd!

PS – Yes I realize that top flower looks a little smashed.  Bad angle, but more importantly, paper cones are IMPERATIVE when making gum paste calla lilies and I didn’t have any.  Boo.  😦

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