I’m usually not for show-stopper kinda cakes. I figure as long as it tastes good, I shouldn’t worry too much about how it looks. A few swirls of chocolate ganche, a scattering of rossettes, maybe a dash of sprinkles and dragees… that’s about it. Looks appetizing, tastes great- that’s more than enough for me.
But when you have a little girl in the family who oh-so-adorably asks you for a giant castle cake so she can feel like a princess on her 5th birthday, you can’t help but agree and throw all notions of making a ‘simple’ cake out of the window. My cousin was so excited when I started collecting paper towel rolls to make the castle towers. She had all sorts of ideas on how big the cake should be (4 tiers!!), what the color theme would be (predictable, pink and purple), and the overall look of the cake (a giant castle with 4 towers, turrets, a landscaped garden and a prince and princess- undemanding little angel isn’t she??) Of course, I explained that I couldn’t do all of that but I promised her it’d be a pretty cake, she just had to trust me. And with the implicit faith in her elder sister that only a 5-year old could muster, she said okay and returned home.
And I freaked out as soon as she was out the door.
How in god’s name was I gonna do this???
So in the next three months, I looked through endless cookbooks, browsed through sites for ideas and instructions on how I was gonna manage this. I wanted a tiered cake, a smooth finish and something that would be sturdy enough to hold up the towers and decorations. There were so many firsts for me here: first time I would be doing a tiered cake, at making fondant, working with pastillage, and assembling something with so many components.
And to make it all more challenging, the entire cake had to be vegetarian.
Okay, by now I was having a panic attack.
But eventually it all came together. It was not perfect but the birthday girl was ecstatic and that was all that mattered. I made an 8″ vegan chocolate cake for the base tier and sanwiched with buttercream. The top tier was a maple pecan cake frosted with buttercream. I made a batch of marshmallow fondant, colored it a pale yellow and rolled it out to cover the tiers and towers. The turrets were shaped with pastillage, and I used the pastillage to make tons of pearls and tiny roses to adorn the castle walls.
The cake could not be refridgerated because that would cause the fondant to lose its smoothness so I had to store the cake in my bedroom, with the air-conditioning turned on at its fullest. It was the scariest night of my life. I kept waking up to check on the cake, to see if any the towers had come apart or the entire thing had melted or collapsed. ”Never again” was my mantra that night.
But all things said, I was proud of myself. It took so much work and research to get it right and I did it all without resorting to buying anything pre-made. Everything was done by hand and that made it all the more special. And I probably would do it all over again just to see the smile on the birthday girl’s face when I brought in her cake.
Here are a few pictures of the finished cake. I originally intended to take photos of the assembly process but I was too stressed with all the work I had to do. If anyone needs details on how things were done because they are crazy enough to attempt this, feel free to mail me. I would be glad to share my experiences –mainly of what NOT to do– with you
The castle in all its glory
The back of the cake. Can you see that a little bit of the fondant tore, and I had to patch it up and do some cover up work with the vines? sigh…
Check out the unicorn candles! I thought they were perfect for this whimsical cake. The vines and leaves were piped on with buttercream. And I placed the little roses all over the cake randomly. It was quite fun making the roses and dusting them with pearl dust, although they took forever to dry
The castle doorway. The door was made with a piece of fondant and I worked the details in with a toothpick. I also liked the look of the rope of pearls around the base of the castle
The smile/grin that made it all worthwhile
Both of us. Happy that the birthday was gonna be a success, at least cake-wise. heh