It's becoming very apparent that as "Auntie" to lots of my friends' kids, I am also their fairy cakemother. Today we celebrated Ben's 7th birthday and true to fairy cakemother form, I made his cake for him again this year. He had originally requested a Bumblebee Transformer cake, but in the end he chose to go with a sports theme again. Right now he plays basketball so I made a three dimensional basketball out of chiffon cake using my Wilton sports ball mold.
The design itself was pretty easy and decorating the basketball was the fastest I had ever decorated a cake! The net however, took a little bit more precision and time. Despite my increased speed on this one (it was really a four hour venture as opposed to a three day one!), there was a huge learning curve on this one.
Lesson #1: Chiffon cakes don't do well in large, deep baking pans. That probably should have been a no brainer, but hindsight is always 20/20 vision. What should have only taken thirty minutes to bake took an hour and fifteen and the bottom of the cake burned a bit as a result. Fortunately, I was able to cut that off with no taste consequences since chiffon cake also tends to rise quite a bit. If I were to do this again, I would use a heating core
Lesson #2: One batch of chiffon cake was more than enough. Apparently this lesson didn't stick the last time I made chiffon cake. I had so much batter left over that I was able to make a 9"x3"x4" loaf cake...which was very tasty with some chocolate ganache for dinner when my parents dropped by unexpectedly. Note to self: one batch of chiffon cake was more than enough for the big Wilton sports ball mold!
Lesson #3: Fondant rolled into little tiny ropes dries out REALLY fast. Like, freakishly fast. I had started rolling out the little net ropes and made them very thin and lovely and was setting them aside so that I could put them all in place at the same time. NOT a good idea. Most of them broke during "gluing" so some spots looked a little worse for wear and I ended up having to trash the rest and start fresh on the parts I had left. I didn't waste much fondant, but still, it was a pain in the patootie! I used SatinIce for the net and MMF for the basketball and I think that using MMF for the net as well would have been a much better idea.
Other than those lessons, I think everything went off without a hitch. I made the basketball color using the leftover reddish colored MMF from the airplane cake two weekends ago and added orange and brown to it. Having it dyed red already greatly helped, so my advice is to never throw out any fondant that's still in good condition because you can use it to make a different color! I created the basketball lines by using a bowl scraper to imprint the lines and then painted them with a black gel color/vodka mixture (don't worry, the vodka evaporates!). If you don't have a bowl scraper, use a soft plastic spatula or even a butter knife. For the curvy lines, I used a paper plate that I gently held in place and carefully worked my bowl scraper around. A round Tupperware type container would have worked well too!
Ben loved his cake and I daresay I outdid myself from last year's cake. Happy Birthday Ben!