Monday, January 7, 2013

Birthday + Anniversary

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Anniversary to you, Happy Birthday to you!

I have a friend whose mother-in-law is celebrating both her 70th birthday and her 40th wedding anniversary. My dear friend threw her mother-in-law a big party and asked me if I would do a cake. I was happy to!

This cake had a lot going on! It looks different from every side.

There are a lot of little things to look at on this cake!

The design on this cake was really a challenge for me. When I first talked to my friend, she mentioned that her mother-in-law liked golf and the beach, was a retired nurse, and has four grandchildren. Oh, and she likes the color green. I wanted to incorporate as much of this as I could because I wanted the cake to celebrate her life. But I wasn't sure at first what to do with the anniversary aspect of everything. I found out that the birthday girl and her husband enjoy playing golf together, so at first I thought I would focus on that, but it seemed to leave out the birthday aspect of the celebration.

Finally, after a couple of weeks of thinking about it, I decided to do a sort of pattern around the cake that would incorporate little symbols of all of the things my friend's mother-in-law loves. I was happy with the design and my friend gave me the go-ahead. So, I thought I was set.

Then the time came to actually do the cake and the decorations just didn't seem right. The pattern wasn't coming together like I wanted it to or like I envisioned it in my head. In order to fit, everything would have needed to be really small. In my head, this was okay, but I very quickly discovered that on the actual cake, it all needed to be bigger.

One thing I have learned about cake decorating is that you have to be able to adjust your vision, or your design, at the last minute. Flexibility isn't always easy for me! But I'm learning. And in this case, I think I did a pretty good job. :)

I was nervous the whole time that the final look would be messy with all of the names and symbols scattered rather randomly around the cake. I really wanted the cake to seem appropriate for a grown-up but with a touch of whimsy. I wanted the birthday girl to be able to look anywhere on the cake and see something that spoke to her life and the things that she loves.

I think that I succeeded in making it look streamlined rather than messy. Thanks in part to the clean and simple white background. And to careful editing in what I put on the cake. I didn't want it to be too busy, but I did want the space to look filled. I admit that I leaned on my hubby and kids for advice on this! I wanted to add more, but wasn't sure, then my husband took a look and said he thought it was enough. So I listened! I know, it was shocking to him too! :)

There really are so many little things to look at on this cake. I can't decide which is my favorite.

My son liked the bandaid.

My daughter thought the stethoscope was a dog leash. I guess it does look a little like a leash! I'm not sure if nurses use stethoscopes, but I included it anyway.

The golf club is one of my favorite things. I really like how it turned out, along with the little golf ball. The ball is hard to see here, but it is so cute!

This cake included a first for me - a big fondant bow. I actually broke the first one I made. I put the bottom loops on the cake, then bumped them and they were crushed. And I was crushed! Thankfully, it was still the day before the cake was due, so I had time to make some more and let them dry. The lesson I learned was to always make extras the first time! Oh, and don't crush them! :)

I wrote with royal icing on the "tails" of the bow - "40th" with overlapping gold rings for the anniversary and "70th" with a balloon for the birthday. This part was actually my friend's idea and it was a good one! After the icing dried, I painted the rings and the balloon with a mix of petal dust and vodka.

You are probably wondering what's underneath all of these decorations, aren't you? Beware - it will make you crave some cake! Don't say you weren't warned....

Both tiers are dark chocolate cake with vanilla bean buttercream. I covered them in chocolate ganache to create a nice solid (and delicious!) base for the fondant. All of the decorations are made of fondant and everything you see is edible!

Thank you, Jaime, for letting me be a part of your family and celebration in this small way. I am SO glad that you all enjoyed this cake!

And thanks to you, dear readers, for stopping by! I hope you all enjoyed this cake as much as I did! Stay tuned for more projects to come. This week is my son's birthday, so you know I will be making a cake for that!


  1. Midnight in AZ and yes I crave cake after reading this!! Creatively done, very nice!