Saturday, May 14, 2011

I'm Back & There's Going To Be Cake

Despite my best efforts, I never managed to get regular blogging back into my schedule. Recently I was tapped to make our niece's birthday cake (Pickles is turning 6!! Where does the time go?) and I thought what better way to rejuvenate this labor of love? So without further ado let's jump back in, shall we?

One of the more frequent questions I am asked is how I come up with the ideas that we eventually turn into cakes or candies. Sometimes it's because we have seen something similar in a book or blog but most of the time it's because we are given some direction by the person hosting the event. For Pickles' 6th birthday we have been provided with a napkin from the already purchased party supplies and a photograph that inspired the birthday girl's choice of theme.

Isn't it cute?

Not terrible for a grocery store cake. See the inspiration napkin in the upper left of the photo?

The hostess only had a few simple requests, no chocolate cake and she didn't want a ton of leftovers. The rest of it was up to me! So, non-chocolate cake for 20, based on the garden party theme and something a bunch of kids will love. Hmmm...

I am a very visual person and I like to have a plan. Having a plan is good because it decreases the chance that you are going to run out of ingredients (like candy melts -a hem) at 10 PM the night before the party!

The first thing I did was think about the actual cake and settled on a French Vanilla zebra cake although I haven't decided on batter colors yet. I am leaning towards hot pink! Once I had that established, I needed to figure out how much cake was needed. After scouring the internet it seemed a two-layer, 9" round would fit the bill and just because I wasn't entirely convinced I traced my 9" cake pan onto a sheet of paper (which I was going to have to do anyway) and made sure it could be cut into 20 pieces. I'll be honest, it's tight but you can cut a 9" round into 20 pieces as long as you keep them on the small side (and I don't know anyone who cuts cake into pieces that small). The more I thought about it, the more I became concerned about having enough cake because until the cakes are baked, you have no idea how much you are going to end up cutting off in the leveling process. To alleviate that problem I decided on making a three-layer cake. With that settled (and yes, baking the zebra cake will be it's own post in the coming days) it was on to design!

I already had my 9" pan traced onto a sheet of white paper so it was easy to begin visualizing the finished cake. I knew I would be using elements from the napkin on the cake The next thing I did was draw out the elements on a separate piece of paper (using the napkin as a guide for size) and cut them out. Doing this allows you to design a cake as easy as playing with Colorforms (remember those?) and in my case will eventually provide the pattern for chocolate crafting the butterfly and any other elements I choose. I'll spend the next few days working out a design so I can go shopping for ingredients and start baking on Thursday. Wish me luck!


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