Sunday, June 6, 2010

Portfolio: Stars & Lace Graduation Cake

My daughter's godsister graduated from high school this week and I made her a cake to celebrate!  Ronnie is one talented kid...she's a cheerleader, a golfer, a straight A student, and a member of the JROTC.  She's going to go to UT to major in biochemistry on a full ride scholarship from ROTC.  Believe you me, her Marine mom and dad are extremely proud and so are we! Way to go Ronnie!

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Red, white and blue...this cake design could work for the 4th of July as well!
Ronnie graduated from my alma mater, Jack C. Hays High School, home of the Rebels, so the color scheme was made to match.  (On a side note...it was quite a trip to talk to her and hear about some of my old teachers and see how much the school has changed in ten years!)  I did a two tiered affair, with a square base and a round top.  I've done polka dots and stripes and I really wanted something different but elegant, so I decided to play with textures and patterns a bit on this one.  I had my heart set on trying a damask pattern with stars, but as you can see, that didn't happen.  Why you ask?  Well, I decided to try a new chocolate cake recipe which was really tasty, but it was dense and unfortunately baked shorter tiers.  So the 4" tall tier I envisioned became a 2" tier!  When life gives you lemons, you make lemon pound cake, right?

So what to do?  Google revealed lots of inspiring cakes, but nothing really grabbed me.  I'll admit, I had quite a number of creases and wrinkles on the sides, so I threw design caution to the wind and started to patch things up by adding a fondant ribbon border around the base (and now you know why so many cakes have ribbon borders, ha!).  The corners still needed something though, and I realized that fondant half circles would do the trick nicely, but they certainly didn't make you wanna go "Wow!"  That desire for texture crept back into my brain...

And this is what resulted:
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The white stars in the blue lace I actually cut from white and then popped them in.  This is very easy to do with cutters and can be replicated with any number of designs to keep the look flat instead of building up in layers.  I didn't do it on the top tier, because the fondant behind the red lace was white already, but I could have easily added blue stars.

I carried the lacy half circles to the top tier as well and then added a medallion of sorts to the top with the words "HHS 2010" in an elegant block script.  This was actually a little bit more challenging than it appears.  I really wanted to have the blue circle mimc the blue lace half circles on the bottom tier, but my cutter wasn't big enough.

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Finally, I topped this little lady off with a banner proclaiming the occasion.  The trick to getting it from falling flat is to place little pieces of fondant underneath to support it in all the right places.  Then I handpainted the words "Congratulations Ronnie" in cursive.  The leftover stars were scattered on top to create quite a lovely cake.

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I couldn't be more proud of this cake.  I got the texture I wanted, it was elegant but not overly so, and it was delightfully feminine while being different from the traditional grad cakes out there.  The technique was super easy and really made a statement.  I am definitely going to have to employ it again and I will probably post a tutorial on how to make "lace" from fondant very soon.  Of course, Ronnie and her family loved the cake and we had a wonderful time celebrating such a momentuous occasion.

Congratulations to all graduates this month...you've earned it!

Happy Baking,
Kelly

PS.  The chocolate cake recipe I used was from Warren Brown's CakeLove, which I adapted just slightly to include the potato starch he loves to use.  I will post more on that later too!

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