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Monday, March 15, 2010

Birthday Surprises!!

My most recent undertaking has actually been the culmination of a months worth of work and even more so procrastination.  My mom turned 50 last Saturday and her boyfriend and I set about to surprise her with a great party.  She has lived in the same small town for almost her entire 50 years so we invited everyone.  My brother came from six hours away and we didn't tell her.  The surprise was great, but my part of the adventure was the projects I did.  Since I live an hour away, I had the freedom to do projects without to much worry about her seeing.  I volunteered to do the cake and a slideshow of old pictures of my mom.

Lets start with the cake.  Don't be fooled, this was not my first cake experience.  I have an 8 year-old daughter and we have done a Barbie cake, a jewelery box, a butterfly...but never with fondant. It was my first adventure with fondant, but after watching "Ace of Cakes" I was thinking how hard can it be.  I found a great recipe with instructions and pictures at

The cake was just a box mix.  It was probably not the best choice, but time constraints with the kids, mainly my son pulling at my pant legs, made it more practical.  I started with a large sheet cake.  It is two box mixes together and then I used a third to make the hill.  I used a Pyrex oven safe measuring cup to bake the hill.  I made the hill out of a chocolate cake, and the sheet was confetti cake.  I used half the chocolate cake for the hill, and poured the rest on top of the confetti.  I took a wooden skewer and swirled it together for a marbled look in the sheet cake.  It turned out delicious and pretty.  My first challenge was finding a board big enough to hold the sheet cake.  I thought my cookie sheet would work, but it was not big enough.  I ended up stealing one of my cabinet doors and covering it with foil, I guess I should get that back from her sometime soon. :)

We easily transferred the cake from the pan to the board because I had generously sprayed the pan down before baking, but then faced the challenge of flipping it back over.  My daughter helped me take the cake on the board and line up the original cake pan upside down and flip it onto the outside bottom of the pan.  Then I was able to slide it onto the board again.  I am sure there was a more efficient way to do this, but it worked.  I rounded the edges so it looked nice and curved like hills.  This was an over the hill cake after all.  I trimmed the top of the hill cake to make it flat and put it in the corner of the sheet cake.  I put a little cream frosting between them to hold it in place.  Thus begins the saga of the stickiness.

The recipe I used called  MM Fondant.; worked wonderfully and actually tasted good too.  Check out the recipe and tips, they were very useful.  Pay close attention to the MM, that is where stickiness comes in since MM stands for marshmallow and you could add another M because they are melted.  I also checked out the comments and found some common issues that people had and was able to troubleshoot as I went.  The only thing that I found super difficult was I needed A LOT of green fondant and I wish I had colored it when it was melted and gooey instead of when it was like kneading clay for 45 minutes.  I considered that my workout for the day, and my arms were sore as proof of the burn.  I did a rough icing of the cake with creamcheese frosting.  I rolled out the fondant after I got it the proper color and layed it gently following Peggy's instructions and keeping my rolling pin close to the cake.  I used cornstarch to keep the fondant from sticking to my board and rolling pin.  I smoothed it down and cut it using a pizza cutter.  It was perfect...and then it tore.  The hill cracked and I had no idea how to fix it. My fondant was covered with frosting on the back, there was no taking it back at this point.  I think I needed to get it rolled thinner, but I was running out of counter space.  Quick thinker that I am,  I rolled out a smaller piece and cut out little grass shapes and stuck them on with cream cheese frosting.  It covered the tears and looked great.  Then I took some of the CC frosting and colored it dark green.  I made more grass and it all blended in.  Catastrophe averted!  Whew!  On to decorating...

I made a nice grey color fondant, cut a path out and draped it down the hill to the edge of the cake.  I took a Rice Krispy treat and cut it to the shape of a headstone and covered it with CC frosting and then with gray fondant.  I took a resealable bag and reinforced it with a piece of clear tape.  I snipped a small tip off and used that to write with pink colored CC frosting.

I had a few little cracks to cover up on the tombstone, but used green CC frosting and it looked like moss.  Overall I pulled it off and really enjoyed it.  My mom loved it.  Happy Birthday!!

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