Friday, June 25, 2010

Portfolio: 90th Birthday Celebration Cake

Back in 2004, my grandmother was diagnosed with congenital heart failure.  The doctors told her that she would have about 2 years at most, if she was lucky.  Well, I am happy to report that six years later, my grandmother is sending those doctors the bird to their diagnosis.  To that end, my entire family flocked to her home this past week to celebrate having lived a very illustrious nine decades with food, fun, and cake.

Photo by Anthony Marino of Austin Area Photo

Each tier is actually three layers of cake: a layer of raspberry flanked by layers of lemon cake, all put together with lemon buttercream icing and homemade raspberry glaze.  Given the incredible heat wave we experienced, it was light and refreshing.  My grandmother had requested lemon and it was my cousin Katy's idea to add the raspberry.  Good call, Katy!

As far as the color scheme, I chose purple and periwinkle, because those are the two colors that come to mind when I think of my grandmother.  She's feminine, but at the same time, she's not a true girly girl.  I had thought I would make pansies, but with all the goings on that week, I didn't have time to sit and really concentrate on it, so I created a dogwood looking flower instead.  My aunt Becky had bought green and white plates for the party, so I incorporated the green as part of the scheme as well and it was a great compliment to the two shades of purple I'd created.

Photo by Anthony Marino of Austin Area Photo

I also decided to be a little bit different with the tiers...I see a lot of cakes where the patterns are busier on the bottom and the colors fade up as opposed to down.  I think that by changing things up a bit, it really created a stunning cake.  My only regret is the effect that heat had on this cake.  The cake layers were fairly even and I tried to go easy with the frosting, knowing it was so hot outside, but I still ended up with a terrible bulge on the backside and a lot of bubbling underneath as the gasses from the frosting released and rose underneath the fondant.  I had placed the cake in the fridge prior to placing the fondant on top, but it made the fondant sticky after awhile due to the condensation.  And of course, this made it difficult to place flowers or royal icing on the cake!

In the end however, my worries were all for naught.  My family was more than impressed with my skill and the flavor, as evidenced by the lack of leftovers.  That cake fed about 50 people and the only ones who missed out were my brothers and my cousin David, all of whom don't really eat sweets anyway.  (They did try bites and told me that it was fabulous)  I'll post recipes later as I really wanted to show you my handiwork.


The Grand Dame herself, my grandmother Mavis... Happy 90th Maw Maw! (Photo by Anthony Marino of Austin Area Photo)

Happy baking!

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