I’m slowly starting to catch up with blog posts. If you’re wondering why I’ve got so behind, I’ve written an explanation in my last post here. This was cake 2/5 for August and was for a very special friend of mine who was one of my bridesmaids. She turned 40 in September (at this point I’d like to point out that she’s five years older than me 😉 ) but her family organised a surprise birthday party for her in August, as her and her husband and children are currently living overseas for her husband’s job, but were back in England for a few weeks in the summer. So the plan was that her sisters, sister-in-laws and I would go out for a spa day with her to celebrate, and while we were gone the guys would get her surprise party ready and the guests would arrive before we got back.
She has always loved the sunshine, and very handily mentioned three or four times while we were at the spa day how much she loves the sunshine! So I decided on a sun, sea, sand and sky theme for the cake.
I started making the 136 letters I needed for the eight lots of ‘Happy Birthday Cath’ that would make up the ‘sea’ a few days before. I wanted the four layers of letters to have an ombré effect, so I coloured some fondant the darkest colour of turquoise I wanted first, made the letters in a Martha Stewart Letter Mould, and then weighed the remaining fondant to see how much I’d used (24g if you’re interested 😉 ) I then used 75% of the dark turquoise with 25% white for the next layer (so 18g turquoise, 6g white), 50/50 for the next layer (so 12g turquoise, 12g white) and 25% turquoise with 75% white for the top layer (6g turquoise, 18g white). I knew my maths A level would come in handy one day 😉
My master plan was to attach the letters using the wax-paper transfer method I learned in Jessica Harris’s Clean & Simple Cake Design Craftsy class. I’ve used this method before for the Musical Birthday Cake I made for my hubby and the Quatrefoil Flower Cake I made for my mum. Both times it worked brilliantly, and both times I’d used modelling chocolate for the decorations I was adding.
This time it just didn’t work. I think the problem was that the letters had dried firm and were quite thick, and they seemed to have problems sticking to the Crisco. The photo shows them all attached and ready to go, but when I transferred them to the cake about three quarters of them fell off and I ended up having to attach them all by hand, which was a lot more time consuming and made it more difficult to try and get them perfectly straight.
For the clouds, I used Not Just Cakes By Annie’s cloud cutters. I rolled the fondant about a quarter of an inch thick and laid cling film over the fondant before I used the cutters. This pulls the cling film tight over the fondant and rounds the edges as it cuts it, a tip I learnt from Lesley Wright of The Royal Bakery.
I did the same for the circle of the sun to give it a rounded edge and then added the thin triangles.
As the party was in Wiltshire and we were travelling from London (about an hour and a half drive) I didn’t add the ‘sand’ (light muscovado sugar) before we left as I didn’t want it all over the inside of our car… So I left the job to my hubby. It’s not quite how I would have done it, but at least he remembered! It turns out he spent more time on trying to make mini sand castles with my friend’s hubby and trying to find something to shape them, than actually adding it to the board…
As a finishing touch, I used some impression letters I’ve got to imprint ‘Happy Birthday Cath’ on the sand-coloured fondant on the board as if it had been written in the sand, and I made a mini pair of purple flip-flops to put on the board in the sand.