My mother is a wonderful person. I don't really spend a lot of time thinking about her mothering skills, or that I want to be a mother just like her if I ever am a mother. All I can say is, whatever she did, she did something right. I am proud that she is my mother, and I am blessed that she is my friend.
Her birthday was Tuesday. It was also her sister's birthday: they were born ten years apart. My aunt likes to joke, "you mom always used to say 'my birthdays were great until I turned ten!'" She loves her sister though, so I bet she thinks about it differently now. But, as you well know, dear blog readers, birthday means cake time!
Since my mother is the eldest, I told her to choose the cake. She first insisted that I use a box and not make anything too complicated, after hearing the story of Jack's red velvet disaster. She said she wanted something that goes good with cream cheese icing. I told her red velvet (I can get a box of that) or I have a box of carrot cake and spice cake on hand. Spice cake was the winner! It so happens that I have a fondant recipe that involves cream cheese, so I was all set.
I always talk about my friend Seddy's awesome blog. Ever since she posted about this fabulous cake, I have wanted to try it! The first thing I needed was jimmy sprinkles (Note: I actually only learned that they were called 'jimmies' within the last year or so, they were always just 'sprinkles' to me, and they will henceforth be called 'sprinkles' here. But for those who can't accept that there are different kinds of sprinkles, now you know I'm talking about jimmies.). As Seddy wrote in her blog, I also could only find a great mixed tub and no individual colors. So, I bought that tub and spent an evening sorting until I went crazy and my neck hurt from bending over. Then a few days later, I found a few colors separated in a sectioned jar. As it turned out, the pre-sorted sprinkles were mostly short and not very uniform in size. The ones from the tub were longer and fairly consistent, so I ended up using those anyway.
Next, I needed a design. Some friends suggested some vintage embroidery patterns and I crawled Etsy, finding some very beautiful and complex designs. I ended up going with a design similar to this doily because I decided simple was better!
Now the fun begins!
The first thing I had to do was make the fondant. My recipe is crazy easy, but I can't share it because it was an old family recipe of Monty's mother-in-law and she swore me to secrecy. I will tell you that it involves cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla. I usually put peppermint in there too, but not for this cake. This is the first time I'm going to actually put this fondant on a cake too.
This fondant takes a lot of kneading and slowly adding in the sugar. It's best to work it a bit at a time and then combine each portion together. I wore gloves because it's very sticky and almost impossible to mix with a spoon. I could try a food processor, but I don't have one!
I knew this was going to be far more fondant than I need for the embroidery topper. I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with the rest of it, actually. It does freeze well and when Monty's m-i-l first made it for me, she just rolled it into little balls and ate it like candy. That's pretty much what I did with it whenever I was previously inclined to make it as well. The ball of fondant went into the fridge until I was ready to make the topper.
When I was ready to make the topper, I took the fondant out of the fridge and let it warm up so it was easier to work with. While it was doing that, I made a cutting guide so I could cut out a disk of fondant the right size for my cake. It was the same way I measured the fondant for the Stargate Cake too. I then drew the embroidery pattern with colored pencils, a color for each color of sprinkles, directly onto my cutting guide. When that was done, the fondant was warm enough to roll out and cut.
There really is no way to describe putting the sprinkles in place. It was just a matter of picking a place to start and gently pressing them into the fondant. I put the thing on my lap so I could work while sitting with something on the TV. I learned my lesson from the Stargate Cake. Do not carve fondant on your feet, it's tiring!
This is the finished topper! It took less than three hours. There are some white sprinkles there, and they show up against the cream of the fondant well enough (I wasn't expecting them to stand out). I used little pearls as the center of each flower. With the topper done, it went into a bag and into the fridge with the rest of the fondant. I barely used any of it.
The cake was made last night so it's as fresh as possible for the party on Saturday. There's nothing much to say about this, as I was using a box mix and didn't do anything fancy to it.
They came out beautiful. I lined the pans in parchment paper to make sure the cakes released from the pans (we were not going to have a repeat of the red velvet disaster!) and they both came out fine. I was a little worried because they look very dense. After they cooled and I cut off the rounded tops with my leveler, I tried some of the cut pieces and it was moist and delicious. I can't remember the last time I had a spice cake, I don't remember it being that yummy! I think it's just perfect for this autumnal birthday.
Since my mother said simple was fine, the cream cheese icing also came pre-made. Since most of the cake will be covered with the topper, I slathered most of the icing on the sides.
I didn't get a picture of this next step. I wanted the icing to be a slightly different color than the fondant because I wanted to try something with the fondant borders. Do you remember the spray color that failed on the Stargate Cake? I decided to try Wilton's brand of spray color and picked up a can of blue. I wanted it to be very light, like just barely blue. I ended up with far more blue than I wanted, more of a robin's egg color, but I was happy with it. It came out light at first, but then I got a little heavy-handed with it. And now I can report that there was not a single problem with Wilton's spray. Now if only they would make it in silver!
I made a mistake here. I should have pulled the fondant from the fridge and let it warm up so I could work with it, but I forgot. It's very crumbly when it's cold and it was getting late and I needed to be done with the cake. I kneaded a few balls of it so I could work with it, but it wasn't the best. It didn't cut cleanly, and I had a hard time shaping it. Even so, I was going to make it work, and work it did. I rolled a snake along the bottom of the cake and a kind of wavy, scalloped edge for the top.
Because I didn't let the fondant warm up, I had a hard time getting the topper off the parchment paper. It stretched a little bit, but I just pressed the edges into the scalloped fondant boarder and it worked fine. Moving the topper to the cake was a delicate operation! You can see a little of the blue in this shot. My coworker said it looked like the ocean. I love that! Perfect!
Tada! The finished Embroidery Cake! I pressed some of those little pearls that I used in the center of the flowers into the rolled fondant at the base for a finishing touch.
The party is tomorrow. I hope my mom (and her sister) loves her cake!