Last November I took part in an auction for the Quiet Waters Outreach organization. I put up a future cake for auction in hopes of helping them raise some money to support their mission. A wonderful family purchased the cake and asked if I would wait to do the cake until their big 4th of July party they have every year! So, yesterday I had the pleasure of delivering this fun cake I designed to their beautiful party! It was set at their home overlooking Lake Oswego. She had beautiful linens, flower arrangements and food all set for the event! It was stunning. I was very happy to be involved!!
Because of the nature of the event, she didn’t want a traditional flag type cake but something more classy and unique. I sent her several designs and we settled on this one because of the water effect it had on the bottom tier (which reminded her of the lake the setting was on) and the colors/style was still 4th of July-ish! It was a star studded cake! All the dots, swirls and stars were hand painted with silver luster dust. All decorations were marshmallow fondant.
A few tid-bits of info for all you cake makers out there…since I’m willing to share my “lessons learned”! The top tier was 5 layers of chocolate cake filled with mocha buttercream and crumb coated in dark chocolate ganache. The bottom tier was 5 layers of vanilla butter cake filled with vanilla buttercream and sliced strawberries then crumb coated in dark chocolate ganache. I’ve known for a little while that the mixing method you use for your batter can really effect the texture of a cake. In fact, a great friend of mine is going to be doing an upcoming article in the Cake Central magazine comparing several different mixing methods and how they effect the texture of the cake. Well, I mixed my chocolate batter different this time than the recipe calls…partly because I was on auto-pilot and had just made the vanilla cake batter and was in that mixing method mode. Well, the chocolate cake had a really different texture than it usually does…I didn’t realize how much it can be effected by the way you combine ingredients (and yes, I’m confident I didn’t mis-measure or leave anything out). Usually my chocolate cake is dense and silky in texture. However, this time, the flavor was the same, but it had a really fine crumb and almost a “sandy” type texture…it’s hard to explain…but it didn’t hold together as nicely…it was more crumbly…if that makes any sense! I was disappointed last night when I had some left overs…it’s one of those things though you can’t go back on. Fortunately I chatted with the client this morning and she said even her chocolate lovers truly enjoyed the cake and thought everything was delicious!! Whew! I’m sure that mocha buttercream helped out too! Now I know though! It will be interesting to see how my friend’s article and experimenting comes out and if it confirms the findings I realized last night.
On to the vanilla cake. I was worried about layering fresh strawberries in the cake because I read online everywhere how the juices seeped out and ruined the cake/fondant, etc. So, what I did was washed and sliced the strawberries then laid them on a paper towel for a bit to absorb some of the juices. At that point I placed them in a single layer on top of the buttercream and placed the next cake layer directly on top of the strawberries so the juices could absorb into the cake, and not out the sides. I then crumb coated it in chocolate ganache to seal it in and away from the fondant. It worked beautifully! As far as I know there were no issues with the juices and the cake held together through all the decorating and being in and out of the fridge. So, it can be done…safely!
One more silly thing…for those marshmallow fondant makers! I added quite a bit of pure vanilla extract to my fondant this time and so it wasn’t a white white color. I was going to use a clear glass pedestal for the cake and wasn’t thinking about the white not being a true white. My client called the day after I had made the fondant and brought me over a white pedestal to sit the cake on so it would blend with the white platters she was using for the food. Not thinking about the whites matching, when it was time to “glue” the cake to the pedestal, I just quickly grabbed the stand, and plopped the cake down. By the time I centered it and stepped back (and the chocolate had set) I realized I had a “die-lot” issue with the whites…they didn’t match!! The white pedestal made the white fondant look creamy! Next time there will be a white pedestal, use clear vanilla!! – note to self! So, after going back and forth on what I should do…and my husband and mother in law saying, “Don’t mess with the cake!”, I chatted with my client and we decided to see if I could move it onto my red pedestal! So, I took the cake from the fridge, slid a knife underneath it and PRAISE THE LORD, it popped right off and I was able to move it onto the red pedestal without any major issues…just a few finger imprints in the back, but nothing big! WHEW! – and it looked SOOOO much better…so, I’m really really glad I didn’t settle!!! Who knew cakes could be so stressful! So, the lesson here…even though something might be crazy to pull off…just do it! LOL! – IF it will make the cake better!! – or just use clear vanilla!
I guess that’s it for now! It was a fun cake to make and got me back into the cake world again! I’ve got the bug…although less and less time/energy thanks to this little growing baby inside me! So, there won’t be much coming up except the article that was just published in the Cake Central magazine. I’ll be posting a pic of some cupcakes I had made that were fun, unique and very vintage! Probably in the next week or so you’ll see those up on the blog.
So, for now, thanks for looking…I hope you all enjoyed your 4th of July celebration!!
Gorgeous cake! and it looks perfectly perfect on the red pedestal. Every cake for me is a learning experience too and thank you for the tip about the mixing…can’t wait to read the article. Hope you get feeling well soon, you’re so talented and an inspiration!
I stumbled upon your cakes on cake central and wanted to check out your blog. You do amaaaazing work!!! And for a good cause too
Jessica, what a lovely cake (and for such a wonderful cause, too)! I saw your cake on Cake Central and then meandered over here. Thanks for sharing your amazing talent with us!
hi jessica!! i just ran into your your blog and i found it soooo helpful!! you are truly gifted! i just had a question…how to do apply horizontal fondant stipes so neatly???
Diana: Thanks! I have a little trick! I cut out a wax paper template, put some crisco on it, place on my fondant stripes and get them nice and straight. Then I add a few drops of water to the fondant and flip it up onto the cake using the bottom of the wax paper along the base of my cake to keep things level. Once I wrap it all the way around, I peel off the wax paper! I’m going to do a quick video of it! It’s a technique I came up with all by myself – it saves tons of time and gets things nice and straight!
Hi Jessica! Thank you so much for all the time and effort you take to put up information and tutorials. I admire your work and you have helped me so much as a little beginning baker I was wondering, for cakes like this where you use objects on wires, what gauge wire do you use? I’ve been trying to do research, but it seems like everyone has a different opinion. What’s yours?
Chelsea: I’m sooo glad you’re finding helpful info here!
There are lots of opinions because it just depends upon what you’re using the wire for. I’ve used lots of different gauges depending upon the need. I’d recommend going to the craft store and looking at them to see how thick you might need them to be depending upon what’s going on them. The heavier the item, the heavier you want your gauge. I think for this cake I used 18. Best of luck!
Love it. Jessica how did you do the fondant overlay?
I used my wax paper technique! There’s a link at the top right of my blog…go up to the top to find it.
How Did you do the pattern? I love it. Thanks so much for responding to my million questions.
If you’re talking about the blue, I rolled out a long piece of blue fondant the same circumference of my cake, then used an exacto knife and cut a wave pattern in it. I then applied it on my cake and extruded some gray fondant in ropes to hide the top blue edge. Then, painted the gray fondant silver. Hope that helps!
Ohhhhh I thought you rolled out a white circle and cut the scallops and did an overlay. Thanks so much.
Jessica, how did you do the two tone colors on the bottom cake? Did you cover it all in blue and then add a white top layer? Also, for the silver swirls, what did you use? This cake is amazing! -Kris
The blue is cut from a long piece of fondant, then wrapped around the cake. The white is just the fondant over the whole cake. The silver is gray ropes I hand rolled and swirled/placed as I put them on the cake with a little water/corn syrup mix. Then, I painted them with silver luster dust.
I hope that helps!