Every now and then I am reminded that I am a baking novice. It doesn’t matter how many cakes, cupcakes, cookies or dessert bars I create or decorate, I will at some point make a mistake. After all, I have only been baking since November and decorating cakes since December. I have a bit of a story to tell with this post today, about the most recent cake I baked and decorated. The cheetah print birthday cake I designed last week turned out very nice, and it tasted very good, but it’s creation was not without a few…hiccups…along the way. First off, baking can be pretty expensive. I’ve gotten some cash flow in for my last few cakes, which has really helped, but it’s nice to try to save money where you can, right? So my XBOX cake required an extra batch of buttercream than usual, but I didn’t actually use the entire second batch. So I thought, hey, I’ll save this for the next cake that I’m going to do since it’s only a few days away…I’ll refrigerate the buttercream, and then just re-whip it when I’m ready to frost the next cake. Brilliant! So I pulled out my buttercream, and started whipping it, but it was really REALLY thick, so I added more cream, and then more….and then just a little more. Okay, I added ALOT of cream. So I frosted my cake, and tossed it in the fridge to crust over. Well, I took it out…and the icing was…well…runny, and wet…and it wasn’t hard in the least bit. Apparently, there is such a thing as too-thin buttercream. And I really should have noticed while I was icing the cake, because there was something different about the consistency. But it was late, I was tired and I just couldn’t wait to get the fondant on there. We’ll come back to this one….so for the fondant. I really really wanted to make my cheetah spots looks seamless to my cake, so I was able to find one tutorial online where the blogger rolled out her fondant until almost the size of her cake, added black “blobs” and then smaller pink “blobs” on top of the black and slightly off center, and then rolled it out to the final size of the cake. And there you have it, leopard print fondant. Well it was not that easy. Fist off, once my fondant was rolled I started adding my blobs….but it took me a while to get them all on there, and then my fondant started getting stiff. Once it was all rolled out, I rolled it onto the cake and started smoothing, but the firmness of the fondant caused wrinkles. The cheetah spots started lifting, and where the spots lifted, it left thin “weak spots”, causing tears. What made it even more difficult was that due to the extreme thinness of the buttercream, the fondant wasn’t setting properly, and when I tried to smooth the fondant over the cake, I starting losing the shape of the cake. I ended up having to cut off all the fondant from the cake and had to chuck it all out. I ended up scraping off all the icing, and re-whipping NEW buttercream and re-iced the cake. It was very frustrating. So now, the cake was freshly frosted with a nice firm layer of buttercream. Here was my next issue. I tried re-rolling the spots into the white fondant I was using to cover my cake, but I still had the same issue, my fondant was firming too quickly and it ripped again as I rolled it onto the cake. So, the solution for next time, I think, would be to form my spots first, toss them under a practice board to protect them, and then roll out my main fondant colour right before I’m ready to apply the spots. This way, it won’t harden as quickly and is less likely to tear or have the spots lift. Of course at this point I was having a stroke and could not bear for this to fail a third time…mostly because I was close to being out of fondant and without a car to go get more. So…I covered it in plain, white fondant, and added the spots on separately afterwards. I still had problems covering the cake at this point. I think because by this point the icing was too soft because of all the smoothing and covering I was attempting. The fondant ripped in a few places, again, but I patched it with shortening and covered the obvious areas with the spots I made. I created the spots by placing pink blob of fondant off center on a bigger black blob, rolled it out, and then glued it on the cake using gum glue adhesive. I place it on a covered cake board, and created a black ball border to hide any imperfections in bottom part of the fondant. I then added a customized wine glass as the cake topper. This was the actual “birthday present”. I placed it on top of a slightly larger pink fondant and surrounded it with a smaller ball border.
So despite all the issues I had with this cake, I really like the way it ended up looking . I am, absolutely, going to practice this design. I love, love, LOVE animal print so much and I really want to experiment with how to perfect cheetah print. I really love how my zebra print cake turned out, and I’m dying to try out giraffe print.
Oh…and one more thing. I usually like to do two chocolate layers of cake with a vanilla in the middle, as you can see, this time I did the opposite. Why? Because while I was shaving one of my chocolate cakes, for some reason I stopped paying attention and cut it down way too thin on one side…luckily i had already baked two vanilla cakes so it wasn’t a huge deal, but I will need to make sure to pay more attention when doing this, as it is not the first time I have made this mistake and I won’t always have an extra cake lying around. Lesson learned!