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!!