I have soooo much to blog about...the cake, the other goodies I baked, the trip, the food and the BEEPS! I thought I'd start with the cake though, since I am supposed to be a "cake decorator" and all. LOL I will blog about all the other stuff, I just need time to get myself reorganized. There's so much to tell you!
So my first criteria/plan for the cake was, to make it represent bakespace as a whole. I wanted to stay true to the logo, typeset and coloring as much as possible.
~The cupcake topper of course is Babette (aka Babs), the site's founder/owner. She works so hard for us continually developing the site, granting our every wish, it seemed only fitting to make her our "wish master" holding her magic wand in one hand, the cupcake cherry in the other. The bottom of the cupcake is airbrushed, while Babs and her cupcake dress are all hand painted.
~The middle tier is airbrushed with blue, with "BakeSpace" hand painted in green. (forgive the sloppiness, again, I was in a hurry)
~The bottom tier is airbrushed green and the rest of the logo "come for the food, stay for the conversation" are letters cut out of fondant and airbrushed before applying to the cake.
~The avatars (on the bottom two tiers) represent the people that chat frequently in the forums.
~Last but not least, the cake was finished off and piped with green grass to signify "our grassroots community" (a favorite "Babs'ism").
As much as I hate having a "back side" to a cake, this one was an exception. Now, I dearly love ALL of my beeps, but I had to put some "in the back" because well, the topper had a back, right? Originally, I had planned on putting just the cupcake logo on the top, but then it hit me (yeah, about 2 days before assembly) to make Babs jumping out of the cupcake....no wait....Babs is the cupcake... that was even a better idea!
First, I had to make the avatars so they would be totally hard and dry in time for the trip. Next, I baked the cakes and, in tandem, baked cookies and cupcakes. (to be blogged next)
The bottom tier is a 13" round, chocolate cake with nutella filling
The second tier is a 9" round, vanilla bean cake with vanilla butter cream filling.
The top cupcake tier is 2- 6" rounds, strawberry cake with vanilla butter cream filling.
The cupcake "dress" is a 4" Pyrex bowl, strawberry cake.
On the day before we left, I decided to go ahead and finish as much as I could so I applied all of the avatars, stacked the second and bottom tiers, applied the lettering and finishing touches. These were packed in yet another separate box.
When I arrived, I can't tell you how relieved I was to find all of the tiers hadn't cracked (or melted) and were completely in tact. (insert shock face here) So all I had to do when I got to Karen's house was turn over the cupcake bottom (placing it right side up), put Babette on top and position it on the top of the cake. Then I filled in with the grass piping and a little white around the bottom of her dress.
For the cakers interested in the details...
Then I get the bright idea to make as many as I could 2D, so I added the do-dads (drinks, pets, book & bottle, skillets, spoon etc) Then I had to keep each pic by their cutout so I would remember who was who. I also used their pics as a guide while I hand painted them using a combination of powdered, gel, and airbrush liquid food colorings. The challenge is keeping everything sanitary and edible, after all, it IS food. While my work area looks messy, I assure you it was clean, and cleaned up EACH day. Not that I thought anyone would want to eat themselves (LOL), but I AM an OCD germ-o-phobe! I've never washed my hands so much in my LIFE! HA!
This also may be helpful to other cakers: I knew that I wanted the avatars to cover the bottom two cake tiers, so I had measured the circumference of the pans to give me an idea of how many to make. Then, after I had the cakes covered with fondant, I assembled them, laying out each row, fitting the avatars as strategically as I could, varying color, size, shape etc. Although, during the application to the cakes, I made some last minute decisions and (stole) some from the lineup that was to be the top tier and forgot to swap them with some from the bottom. So I don't have them equally spaced as I had planned.
Here is a closer view of the avatars on the cake (which btw, I had enough foresight to bring my turntable, thank god)
Some of them didn't make it into the pictures, so here they are drying:
Babette and the cupcake:
Cartoons and inanimate objects I can do, but when it comes to real people, or making caricatures of people, I'm seriously challenged. Oh boy, was Babette a challenge for me! I only had two pics of her to go by. I'm affraid I didn't even come close to capturing her real beauty. (so sorry Babs) The only thing that really saved me is that she was the cupcake, so the bakespacers "got it". At least, the ones that were present at the party did. I have to admit, that had I the time, I would have started completely over on her. But....I only started her two days before we were to leave, so Babette, to coin your own favorite phrase, "it is what it is" LOL She's sculpted out of gum paste onto a bamboo skewer and wire (for the arms and hands)covered with floral tape. I wished I had pics of all the steps that it took to get here, but like I've said, time was a waistin'.
After she dried for a day, I used fondant for the bodice of her dress. (I wanted it to match the fondant covering the cake). I also did her hair and star out of fondant. The "wand" stick, I actually ended up snipping off and replacing with a sucker stick. I had to hand paint the dress with white pearl luster airbrush food coloring which doesn't show up very well in the pic I'm afraid, which is a shame, because it really was all shimmery, pretty, and "fairy like".
I had planned on placing a real cherry in her hand once I got there during cake assembly, but that wasn't working out too well, the cherry, in spite of my efforts to dry it off, was melting her hand. So after getting the cake all set up once I arrived, I made the cherry out of fondant and painted it with gel food coloring. (have cake kit will travel ;) )
Driving 5 1/2 hours to Pittsburgh (didn't I say that already? lol) with it in the back of our SUV was nerve racking to say the least. My poor hubby. He had to put up with all of my squirming and fidgeting all the way there. Even though we made sure the boxes were secure and didn't slide around, every bump sent me through the roof. (cake people will understand that) Luckily, we had rear air conditioning controls that were aimed right at the cakes, so the heat and humidity wasn't a factor.
Whew, I'm tired just proof reading all of that. I didn't even go into how I goofed and had to re-do the bottom of the cupcake and re-do (including re-bake) the second tier!
So now, to answer the questions that I know people will ask.....
Yes, the entire cake, with the exception of the wire and bamboo support in Babette, is made of sugar and completely edible.
It took a total of 60+ hours over a 2 month period to do the entire cake (that doesn't include my screw ups):
20 hours- for making fondant, gum paste, baking, carving, trimming, filling, covering the cakes and airbrushing the tiers.
40+ hours- was spent on the avatars, there are 33 of them. It took at least a full week to cut them out and hand paint them (I didn't keep track of printing and cutting the patterns)
8 hours on Babs and the cupcake dress alone
9 cake mixes (yes I used boxed mixes, but jazzed them up a bit)
4 1/2 quarts of butter cream icing
4 lbs marshmallow fondant
1/4 lb gum paste (about, I'm sure less than that)
6 vanilla beans (Madagascar)
2 jars of Nutella
1 jar of strawberry jam
Can't even compute how much powder, gel, and airbrush food coloring was used.
I can tell you it was the biggest challenge for me to date. (of course I'm still learning, so that goes without saying, right?) I can also tell you that the time spent was well worth it for my beeps! I sculpted, painted, and placed each one on the cake with loving care. My only regret was that I couldn't do EVERYONE because of the time factor. (sniff sniff) So, if you didn't make it on the cake, don't take it personally!
As for what it tasted like, I have NO IDEA. You'll have to ask the bakespacers that one. (I did hear quite a bit of moaning when they were eating the chocolate Nutella layer LOL) DD doesn't want to see, smell, or touch cake for quite sometime. (I always say that afterwards, LOL)