50th Birthday Cake


Last weekend was my Auntie Angela’s 50th birthday party. My uncle organized a big party for her; he ordered a cake from an Edmonton bakery called Kinnickinnick which specializes in gluten free and allergy-friendly foods. He wasn’t very keen on the decorating options that were offered, so we chatted and decided that he would order a cake for me to decorate. We picked an inspiration cake that was in theme with the other party decorations, and I suggested using a black fondant base with silver and gold starts around a big number “50″.


I brought some of the extra cupcakes from the baby shower cake that I made to Easter dinner, and my uncle really liked the swiss meringue buttercream that I used. The cake he ordered was a chocolate 16 x 16 inch cake, so I needed to make two full batches of my favourite SMBC recipe. I think that this was the first time that I have ever got the butter temperature right the first time! I started with room temperature butter, and put the cubes into the fridge when I started heating my egg whites and sugar. Then when it was time to add the butter to my meringue, it was at the perfect temperature! It was really nice to have my frosting without the hassle of troubleshooting 🙂


Most of my first batch went into the middle layer of frosting

This is about where my simple cake decorating project started to get tricky. The cake my uncle ordered was gluten-free, so it had no structural integrity when I tried to transfer the top layer onto the bottom. This was especially complicated by the large size of the cake, the fact that the bottom of the cake was sticking to the cake board it came on, and the fact that there was nobody else home to help me with the transfer. Oh no.


I thought I could use a cookie sheet like a cake lifter. It was going okay until the cake stuck to my sheet and broke in two.

Had I known that the transfer was going to result in a broken cake, I would have just cut it into quarters to begin with and saved myself the stress of trying to do the whole cake in one one go. I did cut the rest of the cake into pieces to help with the transfer after the break. It was marginally successful. 


This is okay, right? It’s getting covered in frosting anyways…

Once that ordeal was done, I happily continued with my second batch of SMBC and frosting the cake. I haven’t used fondant to cover a cake before, which is where I ran into my next problem. My initial estimate of how much fondant I needed was significantly less than the Wilton Guidelines that I looked up just before starting. I only had two boxes of ready made black fondant (1.5 lb/24 oz each), and according to the guidelines I needed 120 oz for a 16 inch square cake. That’s 5 boxes of fondant, totalling 7.5 lbs! I had to make an emergency run to Michaels to pick up 3 more boxes, which is a real pain because each box is almost $20. Thank goodness there was a sale. 


So much fondant.

Unfortunately my fondant troubles did not end there. Firstly, it is pretty challenging to work with 7.5 lbs of fondant. The large amount makes it difficult to kneed, which makes it difficult to roll out. This was a big pain because I needed a 23 x 23 inch square of fondant to cover my cake (16 inches across the top, and each side 3.5 inches tall), so I needed to roll out my fondant into an even larger square. The first reason this sucked is that my fondant mat is only big enough to measure a 19 x 19 inch square. When I was watching YouTube videos on covering cakes with fondant, I learned that you can actually use your mat to help transfer the fondant and I was relying on that ability for my project. My attempt to solve this issue was to tape pieces of wax paper to the bottom of my fondant mat to help extend it’s surface area. This worked okay as far as preventing the fondant from sticking to my kitchen table, but was not helpful for transferring the fondant.


How? How did this ever get done?

Another thing I noticed was that rolling out the fondant sometimes caused the wax paper to wrinkle depending on the direction you were rolling. This was annoying, but easily avoidable if you were conscientious of the direction you were rolling in. Once I finally had it all rolled out and smooth, I picked it all up aaaaand the fondant tore. I guess that 7.5 lbs of fondant doesn’t tolerate it’s own weight very well. It took so long to roll out the fondant that it was starting to dry up. I decided it was safer for me to wait until I had some help. Mike was coming over, so I waited until he left his place to start rolling out my fondant again. The second time it went better, though it ended up taking me, Mike, and my mother to transfer the fondant onto the cake.


It was pretty unfortunate because of the 7.5 lbs that I got, I used less than 5. It’s unfortunate because 1) fondant is expensive, 2) it was really hard to work with that much fondant at once, and 3) because the fondant was to difficult to work with in such a large amount, I ended up rolling it out about twice as thick as I intended. Oh well. Anyways, once the cake was all covered I printed out a big “50″ and used it as a template, then Mike and I cut out stars with white fondant. We used luster dust mixed with a few drops of vodka to paint all of the white fondant silver and gold. You don’t want to use too much vodka because it’ll take longer to evaporate, which will give it a chance to dissolve the sugar in the fondant. Once the stars were painted and dry, we used a paint bush to put a little bit of water on the backs of the stars and stuck them to the cake. Just like the vodka, use too much and the sugar from the fondant will dissolve. 


Overall it went okay, but it was a very long day in the kitchen. It was well received at the party, so I suppose it was a success! 

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