In my circle of friends, I am known as the hostess and cake lady. I consider it an honor that my friends have deemed me their baker for life events whether it be a casual Sunday dinner or a milestone birthday party. So when I got the call from my friend to do a birthday cake, I was ready to swing into action to help celebrate her the best way I know how - with a cake.
This cake wasn’t just to be any cake, it had to not only taste good but had to visually describe her personality. Luckily, she had a theme for her birthday celebration “Lights, Camera, Action” and knew that she wanted a 3-tier cake. She decided to leave the cake flavors up to me so I kept it simple – vanilla and chocolate. For the vanilla cake I used my Classic Yellow Cake and for the chocolate cake only a Buttermilk Chocolate Cake recipe would do. Both cakes taste great and are sturdy enough to stack. Now that I had the cake figured out it was time to move to the size and feel of the cake or rather the decoration of the cake. I really had to sit down and do some planning on how to best represent my friend. I started with a few basic questions.
- What is my friend’s favorite color?
- What does she like to do, how does she spend her time?
- What are the main traits of her personality?
- What does her friendship mean to me?
A few other factors I had to consider
- The time of year – weather affects frosting.
- Final weight of the cake – cakes can get heavy.
Also, since I would be delivering the cake to her birthday party location in my personal vehicle, I knew I had to construct a cake that would be suited for travel. The last factor that plays the biggest part in any creative culinary process is time. How much time does one need to set aside to bake, create, decorate and deliver (and put the final presentation touches) on a finished product?
The answers came to me like a lightning bolt! The cake was 3 tiers as requested, graduated sizing from smallest (top tier) to largest (bottom tier).
Building the cake was easy. I frosted each layer individuality with buttercream frosting, and then stacked the layers and cleaned up the frosting where needed. The decorations on the other hand was a bit of a challenge. The stanchions, rope, red carpet were all made out of fondant and needed to be dry but pliable. I wanted to make sure the cake’s theme was a play on the theme of the birthday party and told the story of my friend. Her favorite color is red, she likes to spend time dancing, she always stands out in a crowd, (hence the Woman in the red dress posing and the blingy R, the first initial of my friends’ name), and she treats people like royalty so it was her turn to have a red carpet laid out for her.
Once the cake was just about finished, I was ready to pack it up for the delivery. I knew I would have to drive slower than usual and allow time to add the finishing touches on the cake. In the end the cake turned out beautifully and represented my friend perfectly!
I did make some modifications to the final presentation. The fresh flowers seemed to add a level of elegance to the cake that seemed to be missing. Everyone who saw and tasted the cake had nothing but good things to say, and that is the finest compliment a cook can receive. The icing on the cake (pun intended) was the birthday girl loved it!
Just as I thoughtfully planned this cake for my friend, we at The Chopping Block thoughtfully plan out each menu to highlight the best of a season, food type or cooking/baking technique for you to enjoy and learn something new. If you are looking to up your game in the kitchen, visit our class calendar and find a class that speaks to your personality.
I'm especially looking forward to Cupcake Boot Camp on Saturday, November 3 at Lincoln Square. Will I see you there?