Monday, September 08, 2008
Not-Quite Homemade: Custom Decorating A Bakery Cake
We spent a lot of time last month deliberating about Ranger's birthday cake. It was a big issue because we were throwing his first friends and family birthday party ever, and (feeling inclusive) we invited over 40 families (most with toddlers and kids).
In an additional act of insanity, we didn't ask for RSVPs, so we knew we could expect anywhere from 3-100 attendees. That's potentially a lot of cake. While we love and advocate homemade cake, the thought of making and transporting 100 cupcakes or a giant sheet cake was overwhelming.
So we ordered a big sheet cake from a local warehouse club. Ranger chose blue for the trim color, and the bakery employee kind of blinked at me when I said I wanted a blank white top.
"And what words do you want on it?"
"No words. Just the flat white icing and the blue trim."
With a raise of the eyebrows, she accepted my request and filed the cake order away.
Jim, either in an act of diplomacy or trying to dissociate himself from the insanity attributed to me said "We're going to put our own robots on it!"
Her look said "I'm sure you will, honey," but her mouth said "That's great," as she BACKED into the employee only area of the store.
So, the Jones master plan was to make robots similar to those on our AWESOME Creative Commons robot invitations (thank you, Dot of Dabbled, for being so generous in sharing all your great original images and robot party ideas) to top Ranger's bakery cake.
Dot's beautiful 3D robot cake had been our original inspiration for birthday dessert, but we couldn't envision the fleet of robots we would require successfully making the car trip from our house to the party location. It did however, inspire us to look into fondant.
A cake making friend describes fondant as inedible, so I wasn't in any rush to buy premade. Google offered good recipes and tutorials for marshmallow fondant (which is primarily marshmallow and powdered sugar), so Jim and I spent an evening making and kneading the fondant.
The first steps are much like rice crispy treats- melting marshmallows to hot goo. Then- on very greased surfaces and with downright slippery hands- you mix in colors, then knead in the powdered sugar. The mixture turns into a rather adhesive dough until you really saturate it with powdered sugar.
Ranger wandered into the kitchen soon after we started the kneading process. He found Jim with hands stuck in what looked like a giant yellow glob of chewed bubble gum and me with cerulean mitts closely resembling melting smurf hands.
His only response is a wave of hysterical laughter. A wide-eyed Ranger BACKS out of the kitchen.
After letting the fondant set up in the fridge overnight, we rolled it out and Jim cut out the robot shapes. We had lots of fondant left, so I grabbed a cookie cutter and cut out a dozen or so stars. We even marbled the two colors together to get some multicolored stars.
The end product was well received (it was cake and sugar, after all).