Writing today’s post caused me to look back and count how many cakes I’ve made for people over the past seven months, and the grand total is 24! I think of cakes as falling into two categories: everyday and fancy. The 24 certainly were fancy cakes as each took 8 to 12 hours to bake, frost and decorate, and it was fun to come up with different combinations and designs for different people.
In upcoming blog posts, I’ll share information on the others but for today we have six cakes that were made for people’s birthdays and “just because” occasions. While I’m making a fancy cake for someone, I like to spend part of the time thinking about the laughs, conversations and good times we’ve shared. There’s no greater gift than that which comes when we want to make someone feel special and appreciated. And sketching out cake designs – sometimes on paper and sometimes in my head – is the start of an especially enjoyable creative experience. I highly recommend it!
Here’s some backstory on today’s (fancy!) cakes:
Vanilla Cakes with Lemon, & Strawberry Cream Cheese Frostings
These cakes were for two people whose birthdays fall on the same day and who work together. Extra batter meant having enough to also make cupcakes for their office’s celebratory get-together. The layer cakes are a dreamy vanilla that may be my favorite of the various flavors I make. And, these frostings are lemon cream cheese, and for the other, strawberry cream cheese, accented by edible, sugar pearls each placed with a tiny pair of kitchen tweezers.
When using fresh flowers on a cake, it’s a good idea to protect the cake from the stems. Here you’ll see a small item that covers a floral-tape-wrapped flower stem and goes easily into the cake without damage. I was in the mood to use pinks and yellows for this color scheme, and the roses in red, pink and yellow made a beautiful complement. And, since I used only six for the cakes, there were leftover roses for the house!
Chocolate Espresso Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
This cake wasn’t for a birthday but rather an “appreciate you” gift, and when asked a preference, the answer came back anything chocolate – he said just start there and do whatever else you’d like. I decided to make a chocolate espresso layer cake; cover it with a chocolate cream cheese frosting; and decorate it with blueberries, blackberries and rosemary sprigs. It smelled heavenly!
In a previous blog post, I mentioned having once made blackberries audition, and this was the time! I wanted to be sure the blackberries would stay in place on top of the cake and not topple over, so I opened the carton of blackberries, stood each one up on a board, and waited to see which would fall (many did) and which would be left standing for a place on top of the cake. Please join me in congratulating the winners!
Vanilla Cake with Lemon Curd, and Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
This cake also was made to show my appreciation to a longtime friend. I first checked to make sure lemon would be an acceptable flavor, and as soon as I learned it was, my mind came up with so many lemon and cake ideas I had a hard time narrowing the list for hers.
The vanilla cake has tall layers and lots of lemon accompaniment. While this one had lemon cream cheese frosting, it also featured an inside layer of homemade lemon curd, which is about the most sumptuously smooth taste ever! It’s not difficult to make from scratch on the stove, and you’ll never go back to buying it in a grocery store jar again. Blueberries, a bit of the lemon curd, and a lemon slice top the cake, and when you think about it, decorating a cake is a lot like painting a picture (just with yummy art supplies)!
Vanilla Dolphin Cake with Buttercream Frosting
A friend who’s seen some of my cakes challenged me to make a dolphin cake. Well, I’d never made a cake centered around a dolphin but I figured how difficult could it be! It wasn’t hard to make but there definitely were many hours spent color mixing fondant to get the exact shades I wanted and then molding and shaping each decorative piece by hand.
The vanilla cake batter is hard to resist, especially if you’re routinely a taster to get an exact flavor profile the way you want it. At least that’s the excuse I use, but mostly it’s just delicious! When I delivered the finished cake, the smiles and the “oh my gosh, you really made a dolphin cake” were awesome! It’s a lot of fun to be creative this way and to let people know you care by spending your time (the greatest thing we possess) to make something for them.
Vanilla Cake with Cream Cheese Pink Frosting
This cake was for the birthday of a friend I’ve known for a long time. I’d been wanting to make a baby-pink-colored cake for a while, and as her birthday was approaching, I knew she was the perfect recipient for a sweet and pretty cake. The layer cake is vanilla, and it’s covered with a cream cheese frosting in the palest pink ever.
For this one, I also handmade the decorative fondant pieces for the flowers and leaves. The little white cups in the photograph are used to give shape and lift to fondant forms. They’re molded first, and then the tools made for this purpose allow you to give the flowers and leaves a curved, three-dimensional effect after they sit in the white cups. I pulled a small frosting spatula straight up the cake sides all around before adding the decorative elements. The pastel pink reminded me of ballerinas!
So if you weren’t hungry before reading this post, you probably are now! Future posts will feature the other fancy cakes, so if you were a recipient and your cake hasn’t been featured, it will be!
What’s your favorite cake to make? To eat? Please comment below!