Cake Fail

Project: Make a fabulous graduation cake for Uncle Steven. Did I mention it needed to be FABULOUS?

Concept: Two of his most hated textbooks (you really need to understand Uncle Steven to appreciate how funny this would be) with a graduation scroll on top.

Browsed the internets to find beautiful cakes that looked like stacks of books.

Like here and here

As I was already planning on cheating by purchasing a full sheet cake (frosted but not decorated) to save time, I figured how hard could it be?  How long could it take?!  I was also planning to have the bakery print out the covers and spines on sugar paper so all I would have to do would be to:

1. Cut my cakes into the pre-determined sized ‘book’ squares

2. Make rolled fondant and place on top of the books

3. Place the sugar printout on the books

4. Make a diploma (using Ho-Hos as the base, covered by fondant and the sugar paper ‘DIPLOMA’ words)

5. Make a fondant ‘ribbon’ to drape over the scroll and down the sides of the cake.
Easy, right?  Maybe an hour or two at the most.

Graduation Cake

Graduation Cake Fail.

Right.  Six hours later, here are some lessons learned that I am happy to pass along to you, faithful reader:

1. Just because you pick up a pre-baked, pre-frosted, yet un-decorated cake does NOT mean it is perfectly square and flat.  The cake I picked up was rounded on the top (just like if I baked it myself and did not trim it flat).  Because it was already frosted, my options were to a) live with it or b) scrape off the frosting, trim it, and frost again.  Irritated, I went with a).

2. Rolled fondant, even the cheater marshmallow kind, is a pain.  Getting it right required a ruler, and a lot of patience.  And math.  Not my strong suit.

3. Sometimes, okay, most of the time, you should probably think things out in your head before you jump in and do them.  Like putting your second layer of cake on the first one before you cover it with fondant (confectioners sugar palm to the forehead).

4. Just because you have (thinking yourself oh-so-clever) had the bakery print out your beautifully Photoshopped textbook covers and spines, does not mean they are easy to transfer to a cake.  Especially once you have cut off the ‘outsides’ of the sugar paper.  After doing so, I realized why the bakeries always pipe borders around sugar paper pictures: it’s because they are a B*TCH to get off the backing, and the edges, no matter how careful you are, get raggedy.  And sometimes completely fall apart on you.  Several times.

5. Ho Hos are yummy. Husbands that buy lots of extras are extra nice to have.

6. Food coloring painted onto a not-so-perfect cake, while it may look the same shade as your sugar paper graphics, will not dry the same color.

7. Candy sprinkles, however liberally applied to a crappy looking cake does not effectively hide imperfections.  It just looks like sprinkles on a crappy looking cake.

8. If you serve a lot of alcohol and precede cake cutting with a champagne toast, most people are too happy to care what the cake looks like.

This project TOTALLY looked better in my head (and on other people’s websites).

Comments (1)

Carol VaughanJanuary 13th, 2013 at 1:09 pm

That is NOT a fail!
It looks like a good old hardbacked textbook that has been carted around and passed down student-to-student over the years and had its spine battered a little.

I love your tagline “It looked good in my head” – same goes for me. Wonderful ideas in my brain, not quite so when it comes to actually doing them but they work out well enough to impress the person they’re intended for (it is only the maker that sees the imperfections) and that’s what’s important.

I bet your Uncle Steve was chuffed as nuts!

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