Sunday, May 29, 2011

Shots anyone??

This was by far the most challenging cake I’ve ever attempted. When my coworker asked me about making it, I wasn’t sure if I could do it but I really wanted to try. She basically explained she was looking for a cake in the shape of a bottle of Jagermeister. She wanted it to be upright like a real bottle.
I first looked online for some blogs about other similar upright cakes to find a technique. Because I am a science nerd, I found the best way to do this was a bit of math. I found a picture of a bottle and scaled it to fit the pan I had. I decided to make it out of two ½ sheet cakes each cut into 3 layers and stacked.  This would make a cake that was rectangular and tall like the bottle.  I added a small rice crispy treat knob at the top for the bottle neck.
The easy part was obviously baking the cakes. I made one vanilla and one chocolate. I started with a piece of cake board cut to the dimensions of the cake. I put holes in them to stabilize two small dowels and used those to stack the cake. On the bottom I used a strawberry cream cheese frosting to layer the vanilla cake in the three layers. I then added another piece of cake board to separate the two flavors and topped the cake with chocolate butter cream and chocolate cake. In between layers, I would put the cake into the fridge to allow it to get a little hard and, therefore, stable.   

After getting all six layers together and (mostly) straight, I covered the entire thing in a butter cream frosting. I chose butter cream because it gets so hard in the fridge; it makes it so much easier to stabilize your cake. At this point, I was amazed by two things – first, that this cake was coming together so much easier than I thought it would and, second, that I had used so much frosting! That was 3 huge batches of frosting.
I made a fondant out of marshmallow, which is my favorite because it’s more pliable than regular fondant and it also tastes much better. I actually like to add a little marshmallow flavoring to mine just to make sure it has a good taste. I dyed it an ugly green which I would call Army green. Or, in this case, Jagermeister green.

The biggest challenge was the label. I had looked online at some attempts by others to pipe it or copy it in some way and, frankly, I thought those cakes were pretty sad. I lucked out and found someone on eBay who makes edible images. I asked her if she would make me a label and she did! Thank goodness because otherwise this cake would have been completely ruined.

Two things happened at the final stages of this cake that made for flaws which drove me nuts but most people didn’t seem to notice. First is I completely underestimated how hard it is to cover a tall cake with fondant. It started out nice, but being 3D made for awkward bends and creases. I tried to solve this with a spray bottle full of water. Then I tried using Crisco to smooth out some edges. Then it got too soft and I tried more cornstarch which mixed with the moisture and made a hazy layer on top of the fondant. It was a little bit of an I Love Lucy skit there for a minute but I managed to get the fondant down over all the edges and smoothed out with a few minor glitches and one little piece of dowel that I could just not get to cooperate.
Once I got that done, I had a second challenge getting the label on. In defense of the label maker, I have to admit the problems were all me. The label application itself is simple, moisten the fondant and lay the label on. Unfortunately, the moist label is easily ripped which I, of course, learned the hard way. After a few unnecessary mishaps, I realized I could lay the cake down on the back side (i.e. – the non-label side) on some wax paper and apply the label and fit it into a box that way for easier transport. This was a good idea since the cake was super heavy. The final product wowed the coworkers so that was nice.

If you look you can see there the fondant cracked and a small nub where one of the dowels was sticking out. Thiswas one of those things I could have obsessed about for days but I just had to get over it and accept the imperfections.
I’m so grateful to have been asked to make this cake. If I didn’t have an occasion, I would have never tried. I love the idea of trying new things, even if right now, I’m a little extra awkward and slow moving with the ever-growing cakelet on board. The problem is I’m so time constrained, if I don’t have a reason, I won’t take the initiative. I hope to get better at that so I can improve the things I know how to do and also learn how to do new things. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my 10 months of making cakes, it’s that there are no rules or boundaries to what you can do if you set your mind to it and accept mistakes.