Oh lord – you know you are heading into the deeper parts of middle age when your siblings start to hit their 60’s, which is just what my oldest brother has just done. His eldest kids (ok so they are both in their early 30’s now so hardly kids), organised a surprise party and asked me to do the Birthday cake.
Now I am not a huge cake maker and celebration cakes make me quake slightly every time I am asked to do them. I love the challenge they present but boy do these things like to ratchet up the stress levels. Inevitably they involve drama, mishaps, late nights and numerous deliveries (and non-deliveries) from online retailers for some specialist piece of baking kit that isn’t in the already groaning batterie de cuisine stored in the garage.
The theme for this one came from my brother’s love of golf and I can’t really claim a huge amount of originality in the design as this look can be found in many places on the internet. Also I was very aware I was short of time so there was one huge cheat in the form of the golfer peering into the hole for his ball who was purchased from lovlableleanne – thank god as he rescued me from disaster.
The cake flavours were relatively straightforward with lime sponge, filled with kiwi and lime Italian meringue buttercream – both recipes revived from the last celebration cake made for my niece. The kiwi flavouring for the buttercream was born of a desire to have a green icing without resorting to food colouring and it had a lovely light fruity taste, though the lime was needed to give it a little bite.
Nothing else about this cake was straightforward though. The cake gods were certainly not smiling on me as just about every stage other than the buttercream went horribly wrong (though I need to remember that 12 egg whites bulk up to a lot of meringue that the mixer can’t handle).
All the sponges had to be be baked twice, and despite rising in the tin came out strangely solid, my original plan to have the cake topped with a big tee’d up golf ball went horribly wrong as said ball looked more rugby ball shaped than ball-shaped and wasn’t able to sit on top of the cake anyway, and then to cap it all the fondant dried and started to split revealing a dangerous crevasse across the the top which had to be artfully disguised. To add to the fun, my new hemisphere cake tins were thrown in the dishwasher only for me to discover that anodised aluminium and dishwashers are fatal enemies. The cake tins lost that particular battle as they came out of the machine blackened and ruined.
I am still a little mystified by why it proved so difficult. The sponge maybe needed more baking powder so I need to revisit the base recipe, and perhaps the stress I felt translated to the bake. When making a sphere shaped cake I forgot to take into account the distorting factor of the filling. What I should have done was estimate the thickness this would add and then sliced that off the sponges. On the fondant I had rolled it maybe a little too thin (I wanted to make sure that after the layers of green were added on there wouldn’t be too much fondant) which meant it dried faster so should have been kept in a cake tin at all times.
I haven’t reproduced the recipe for this one. At the end of the day it is the same as the bottom tier of my niece’s earlier 30th Birthday cake.
All that being said, despite all its faults the final product did look great and the Birthday Boy was very happy which is really what it is all about. And the party – well that was great fun.