We decided to brave the world of making our own birthday cake for Tyler's birthday party
because we are gluttons for punishment. It truly became one of those "let's make the cake, they said. how hard can bit be, they said..."
In the end, the birthday boy was thrilled... and it wasn't a Pinterest Fail of epic proportions.
We started off researching what we needed to make and collecting supplies. We made a 4 layer cake that started with a 12x12x2 inch cake pan... in reality, we cut about 2 inches off of it so it was 10 inches on each side and 8 inches high when it was all said and done.
To make cakes of this size, each layer required a double batch of cake... so for ours, each layer represents 2 cake mixes. We chose to do 2 layers of white and 2 layers of chocolate cake.
We started making our cake on the Tuesday before the party (Saturday) -- on that day we only made the cakes. We let the cakes rest the night in our cube-shaped cooler that John layered delicately with cooling racks and cake pans.
On Wednesday, we made our butter-cream icing and built the main structure of the cake. We used the Wilton recipe made with shorting (we did the variation for stiff white butter-cream) because we wanted to make sure that the structure of the cake wouldn't be susceptible to falling over if it got to be room temperature while sitting at the party. It took about 3 double batches of icing to cover the entire cake. I used a pastry bag and a cake frosting tip to make this easier on myself. We also chose to dye the frosting brown so that you wouldn't see white if there were any gaps in our fondant pixels. From here, the cake was placed in our outside refrigerator.
On Thursday, we dyed all of our fondants - we ended up with 3 shades, 3 shades of brown, and gray. To cover this entire cake, we used one 5 pound box of Wilton White Decorator Preferred Fondant. John made a template (yes, we would share if asked) in Excel that told us the total number of squares we would need and then we were able to break it down by how many of each shade we would need.
On Friday, we cut out a billion and one fondant pixels. We used a cookie cutter of sorts that allowed us to cut nine 1 inch squares of fondant each time you cut. We had to use some powdered sugar in place of flour while rolling out our pixels. We placed them on sheet trays and then into the fridge for the night. We were a bit worried about the fondant falling off the cake before the party - so we opted to put them on the cake that morning. By the end of the night Friday:
- We printed our templates and put them on our cookie sheets
- We put a layer of wax paper on top (starting with the top layer of the cake)
- We filled in our pixels and made sure to stick the fondant squares together - start with the top of the cake as that is the last layer you adhere to the cake
- Repeat with a template for the sides and wax paper
- As each layer was finished we took the wax paper and layered them all on to one cookie sheet
- We let the 5 walls chill overnight in our refrigerator
Saturday morning (at like 10:30 -- the party was at 12), we did the final adhering to the sides of the cake. We put our layers of pixels (one side at a time) on the back of a cookie sheet. We gently brushed it with water, and positioned them onto the cake - then we took a fondant smoother to press the sides into the butter-cream on the cake. When you adhere the top, you don't need to brush it with water - and we used an extra cake board so that we could just flip it over onto the top of the cake.
It didn't end up perfectly, but for our very first attempt at cake decorating -- it went pretty well!
Tyler's Aunt, Susan, made the Creeper, Steve, and pig for the top of the cake... he was thrilled with how it turned out.
If you decide to make one of these on your own, please let us know and we'd be happy to pay our lessons learned forward and help you as much as we can!