Luau Cake!

Hello there boys and girls, it’s time for a recipe-less update!

This past weekend was a surprise party for my aunt, and I got hired to make the cake (wahoo!).  When I asked, I was told the theme was “Hawaiian luau”, so that of course led to millions of ideas instantly going through my head.  In my first iteration, it was a cake with a lei gracefully draped down the side.

Until I thought it through.

While leis are beautiful, the amount of gum paste flowers I would have needed for this image in my mind was… extraordinary.  So… that idea kind of got kicked to the curb of my brain.  After that I just started Googling like there was no tomorrow.  Unfortunately, when you look up “Hawaiian Cake” or “Luau Cake” under Google Images, most of them look like the creators took every single piece of Hawaiian plastic/decor the could find and stuck it on a cake (seriously – most of them should be on Cake Wrecks, just for the amount of weird stuff on the cake)

Eventually I started sketching out some ideas, and this is what I came up with:

It’s a little hard to see as I sketched lightly so I could erase easily, but it’s just a simple topsy-turvy cake with some Hawaiian accents.  I figured this would be easy enough for me to do, as it was my first topsy-turvy cake, and still impressive enough for all the non-bakers out there.

The weekend making this cake was unreal.  I only had one of each size cake pan, so I had to waste time baking one layer of each tier at a time (luckily they were only two layers!).  It was a weekend and cake full of new things.  New vanilla bean recipe, new chocolate recipe, new fondant recipe, and new cake construction.  Looking back on it now – I was kind of an idiot for doing this, because had one thing gone horribly wrong, I could’ve lost it (very very easily).  In the midst of fondant that kept tearing, I decided it would be fun to break the faucet head off the sink and spray the entire kitchen (seriously – it was a blast! (pun intended)).  But after all of the work and craziness, the cake finally got finished.  My feet ached from standing, but I was very proud of what I got done:

For this, I made a vanilla bean cake for the bottom tier and the island (courtesy of my friend Paula, aka The Culinary Cheesehead), and found a recipe for a moist chocolate cake for the second tier on Kitchen Addiction (doubling the recipe and switching the milk for buttermilk).  I made my own version of a strawberry mousse filling topped with diced strawberries, coated the cake in Italian Buttercream and Michele Foster’s Fondant.  I purchased some Mercken’s candy melts and made little chocolate seashells (on top of the green layer) and the flip-flops, flowers, and palm-tree are all made of gum paste.

Double Salted Caramel Cake

Just writing out the headline to this starts to make me drool a little bit.  I feel like every post I write “so this is one of my favorite flavors!”, but honestly… salted caramel?  It’s just amazing.  Put it into cake form?  Even better!

I have to thank the SprinkleBakes website for this – she made a Triple Salted Caramel Cupcake (that, by the way, looks absolutely gorgeous!), and I just converted/adjusted that recipe to make a cake, and oh. my. goodness.  It was delicious.  I was actually told this was the best cake I’ve made so far.  It was gooey and caramely and crumbly and just plain yummy.  I would make this again in a heartbeat if I had more people to eat it!

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Advanced Cake Decorating so far…

Well I just finished my midterm cake for my cake decorating class last night.  It was interesting – both myself and one of my classmates had one of our layers collapse in the middle, leaving a huge divot to fill.  This, of course, just caused air bubbles galore underneath the fondant no matter what we did – so eventually I just gave up and let it be, because all I was doing was poking holes to pop one air bubble and then finding 10 more.  Regardless, my color scheme worked out well, I loved the roses and my butterfly ended up looking very nice!

Here is my first attempt at a square cake – definitely had some issues, mainly because the kitchen was so hot that the buttercream started melting before I could even put the fondant on, which made for a very messy process.  I did my best to cover up my mistakes with a thick border, as my corners weren’t looking too hot.  I really did like the color scheme, and I loved using the little pink buttons on the border (I used them on all sides).

The last cake is our first cake we made in class, where we were learning about draping.  I had fun cutting out all the circles and attaching them, even though the fondant was way too thick (should’ve been around 1/8″ thick) – but even though the drape/flowers don’t really match with the circles, I still like both aspects (just not together!)

Chocolate Cake with Hazelnut Buttercream

This week I decided to finally take on a classic and make a chocolate cake (although since it is FINALLY sunny in Chicago, I was originally leaning more towards something coconut-limey… but soon, soon).  Personally, chocolate and hazelnut go together like PB&J for me – the flavor combination is absolutely delicious, and all I can think of is Ferrero Rocher (yum).

I had never made a hazelnut buttercream before, so I wasn’t entirely sure on how this was going to go.  I found a basic recipe to get to a hazelnut paste, and then pulled my Italian Buttercream recipe out of my back pocket (from school) and just figured I could combine it all into one frosting.  Continue reading