I have always loved to bake. It is a great way to combine two of my loves -
art and cooking. Through a series of unusual events, one day many years ago, I
got put in charge of doing a groom's cake for a friend. That cake led to many
more cakes over the years. However, other than doing cakes for my own kids,
it's been years since I've been tasked with a really big event cake.
The leader of our Glory Run team had a daughter graduating from high school
this year. This same daughter babysits for us on a regular basis and I also got
to help her on her research paper last year. How could I say no?
However, when I said yes, I had no idea that the cake she picked would be so
elaborate. I tend towards the creative, build a shape kind of cakes. This one
was a bakery style decorated cake. I seriously doubted my ability to make it
happen. I shared my doubts and she assured me that she didn't need it to be
perfect so I carried on.
I didn't believe her when she said her favorite cake was Funfetti. I thought
she was trying to give me a break. Her mom confirmed that it was her favorite
cake, so even though it was hard for me to turn out a straight box cake, I was
glad at least one part of it would be easy.
These are just a few of the tools and ingredients necessary. I didn't even
use the gum paste.
The first step of course was to make and bake the cakes. This took hours in
those big deep pans. A baker friend gave me a tip for helping the cakes bake
evenly. The only trouble was that they also stuck to the sides of the pans and
I had a messy mistake on my hands. I baked the second round the way I always
have and they came out much better. Lesson learned - if it ain't broke, don't
The next stage was to make the frosting and put the crumb layer on the cake.
This required lots and lots of icing to smooth out those ragged edges.
Cakes this big need a support system so dowels had to be cut. This is the
part I wish Nelson was in town for. I'm guessing he would have had a much
easier way to cut those things. My little knife did not make easy work of it.
The big layers are stacked. Then the dowels go in those. The cardboard round
is cut and put on top of those and then the top two layers are put in place and
I started baking shortly after feeding the kids lunch around 1 PM. I was
finished with this much, plus a smoother top layer of frosting around 1 AM.
Really the only other things I did were to feed the kids supper and put them to
bed (Nelson was out of town). That's a really long time and a big reason I
don't do this much any more.
The next morning I awoke tired and a bit bleary eyed from looking at the cake
for so long the night before. I was nervous about the actual decorating so I
decided to practice on some wax paper. After all the time it took and how well
it looked, I wished I could just peel it off and stick it to the cake.
Unfortunately, I had to scrape it back into the icing bag and start from
I was so nervous. Nelson and Mackenzie, my usual support team, were both
gone. So, I resorted to what was available. I asked the three boys to come into
the kitchen and say a prayer for me. They did, and let me tell you, it was a
good one. I thanked them for the prayer and then told them to stay out of the
kitchen until I was done. Bless their little hearts, they did just that. They
had a very clear sense how important this was to me.
The basic design was simple enough. It required changing tips and a steady
hand but I was happy with the results and that gave me the courage to move
The delicate lacy designs were a bit harder. In the end I wished I had used
a smaller tip to get those lines a bit thinner. However, because it was not an
exact design, it worked. The bad part was that I didn't notice how crooked the
cake was until I was at this point and it was way too late to fix it.
So onward I went. After a few hours and a sore hand, I thought I was done as
the picture only had designs on the front of the cake. Since mine was not
covered in that smooth, perfecting fondant, I decided I needed a distraction
from all the imperfections and decorated the back too.
The top I am most proud of as there was no picture to go by. The graduate
merely said she'd like her monogram on the top. I bought that gum paste because
I envisioned some three-dimensional flowers and a monogram that stood up. By
the end of my 10 hour saga, I opted to go with what I know, not what I have
never attempted. I was totally pleased with the design and thought it tied in
perfectly with the rest of the cake.
The graduate requested a photo of me in front of the cake (taken with my
phone, thus the poor quality). Here I was happy. Happy it was done. Happy
nothing happened to it as it rode in my lap for the thirty minute drive to the
graduation. Happy I didn't trip carrying it up the two gigantic flights of
stairs on my way in. Happy she smiled when she saw it.
Each time I do one of these, I totally understand the very big price tag on
cakes like this. They are a work of art that gets demolished within minutes.
Really though, I guess this is the best use of art. I don’t have to throw it
away once I take it down from the fridge.