Cakes / Vegetarian

Pièce de résistance

towers.jpg

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 🙂

 front-view.jpg

The castle in all its glory

back-view.jpg

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…

unicorn-candles.jpg

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

castle-doors.jpg

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

happy-happy.jpg

The smile/grin that made it all worthwhile

us-both.jpg

Both of us. Happy that the birthday was gonna be a success, at least cake-wise. heh  

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30 thoughts on “Pièce de résistance

  1. Hi Chitz, The smile on the Lucky Birthday Girl’s face says it all!
    And I finally get to see the face of the Creator of the Magic Castle!
    Great creative cake,as usual, altho I dont think I could have gone thru what you had to! Worth the sleepless night,tho! The roses and vines esp. are so dainty, too pretty to eat! Not forgetting the little flags on the Turrets too. And pearl dust too, my my!

    Btw, what is Pastillage(see, at my age, I’m still learning!)
    Regards, Mrs Singh

  2. Your cake is amazing! I was just browsing on WordPress and stumbled across yours, and I am in awe… It makes me want to make turrets, too! I especially love your little flowers and vines…

  3. Heyyyy! Happy new year! I’m so tired of saying “fantastic cake” for every cake/cookie you make – but my god, they ARE fantastic! 🙂 Every single time! That little girl looks absolutely thrilled to bits – and why ever not, with a cake like that. The cake’s creator looks pretty happy too – if somewhat tired 😀

    PS. You look so much like my cousin in S’pore that I’m having visions of twins separated at birth. Do you think I should ask my aunt about it? 😉

  4. Oh! that looks fab-tastic! My first fondant cake proved to be my last. I suck at it! …..Once, I made pastillage and wasn’t sure if I was supposed to keep it in the fridge like rolled fondant. 3 days later it smelt like a rotten egg salad sandwich…haha!!! and the pink pearl dust I used never gave a beautiful shine to the tiara I mad :o[

    Great job!!!

  5. WOW! What an amazing cake! You really should enter competitions, you’d walk away with the grand prize. I showed my 4 year-old the photo and her mouth fell open. After she recovered, she wanted to know where to put the candles. Truly a work of art!

  6. I am a vegetarian too. I am looking for a fondant vegetarian recipe. Can you please send me the recipe??
    Many thanks
    Sherlyn

  7. I just dont have words to appreciate ur enthusiasm…. Where do u get all this energy from???? U r awesome… Great looking cake.. Good job…

  8. Rosathemad, Rachel, Shaheeda, Fourleafclover and Uma: Thank you! I’m glad you guys like how the cake looks!

    Hi Mrs Singh! Thanks for all the comments, they really made me feel overwhelmed! heh. And pastillage is a kind of sugar dough, like gumpaste, that you can mould into shapes. It is quite a stiff dough and dries out quickly too, so you can use the decorations without having to worry about them wilting in the humidity or absorbing too much liquid from the cake. Technically pastillage is edible but it doesn’t taste fantastic so I just use it for decor.

    coffeesnob and meeso, heh.. I think she’s too adorable for words too! 😛

    Thanks maya dear!

    Shyam, happy new year to you, a little belated but hope 2008’s still treating you well! 🙂 As for your cousin here in Singapore… hmmm, I wonder what tales our families have hidden from us… *grin*

    Hey Amrita, fondant is such a drag to work with, especially in high humidity levels like ours. I think it’ll be a long long time before I attempt it again.. 😦 As for the pearl dust, I just lightly brush it on with a soft-bristled paintbrush. Seemed to work okay… Maybe you want to try it?

    Singairishgirl and Terri, it’s so cute that you thought of your little princesses when you saw this! I can just imagine the look on their faces when they saw the pictures.. which little girl wouldn’t want a castle for their brithday?? Maybe you moms can try making one for their next birthdays… or am I gonna get stoned for suggesting that? *grin*

    Sangeeta, hopefully I’ll be free to make you a birthday cake!!

    Daphne, I don’t even know really. The work was spread out over three days. The most stressful was the last night I guess… I worked till 3 or 4 in the morning. Was totally wiped out after that!

    Sherlyn, I used a marshmallow fondant recipe from http://whatscookingamerica.net/PegW/Fondant.htm .. I don’t know what your stand on gelatin is, but my family members don’t have an issue with it. But if you don’t eat gelatin, than I don’t really know of any other fondant recipes that would work. I did some research and they all have some gelatin component…

  9. Adaline wants one for her birthday. And she says to make it worthwhile we’ll just have a COMBINED quarter-of-a-century birthday party for all of us. But she’s the guest of honour. I think.

    tee hee hee… wah lau woman, this cake has been the topic of conversation at many of our dinners/drinks… the ones you are MIA at.

    Also, you are HOWWWWWWWW bo liao. * champion *

    🙂 love you lots xxx

  10. WOW~ First time or second time dropping by. The cake is…!!! *speechless*
    Really pretty and it’s it’s it’s…AMAZING!!!
    Great job there!

  11. Banu!
    I am not bo liao okay? Champion, maybe. But not bo liao..!
    And really, I’ve about sworn off tiered cakes so maybe we
    girls can be satisfied with a single-storey castle? ha.

    Thanks Jojo!

  12. Pingback: Wedding Cake and a new buttercream recipe « Taste Goblet

  13. Hi,
    Congrats for pulling off an excellent castle cake! It’s sooo beautiful!

    Can’t believe that you are doing this for the first time… I will write to you for advice if ever my niece ask me to make her a castle cake!

    Cheers!

  14. I am working on a castle cake for a boy and was wondering if you covered the towers with fondant. I am trying to use gumpaste and it is not working as well as I thought.

  15. WOW WOW and WOW again! Having just read yr previous posts, I thought I’d check this one out….I can’t believe it!
    I have done…VERY SIMPLE…wedding cakes myself. But am looking for new inspiration now. I HAVE FOUND IT HERE!!! Thanks so much (Jackie, north of Calgary, Canada)
    ps-have you ever used Sugar Veil? I have just ordered some after watching the YouTube vid’s about it. I want to make a “ribbon” out of it to go around (simple) wedding cake layers; also maybe try a “tuck and ruffle” type ruffled border from it, to go UNDER the cake.

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