Birthday Baking Part 2

A few weeks ago, at the end of August, I wrote a post about making a birthday cake for the younger two of the children. I had meant to follow it up the next week with the post about the final cake, but it got a bit busy so I never got round to it. So this post is about a cake I made a few weeks ago, thankfully it was also eaten a few weeks ago, however I like baking and I haven’t done anything as interesting since, so I thought I’d put it up anyway.

Ryan turned 12 this year so I had to make him a ‘cooler’ cake than the younger two. 2 years ago he was into wrestling so had a WWE cake. Last year the Smiler ride at Alton Towers had just opened and he was obsessed with that so he had a Smiler cake. This year there’s no one ride that’s just come out that he’s been massively into so I had to use my imagination. I considered doing a minecraft cake, but that’s not his favourite game so it would have been a bit of a cop out. I went on Pinterest looking for rollercoaster cakes, but there weren’t any that either looked good, or that I was confident doing, so I ended up making it up.

In the summer we went to Port Aventura theme park in Spain, which he loved because there were a few big rides, we went with their cousins, and it was hot. And his favourite ride there was Shambhala. It’s not the biggest rollercoaster, but it’s one where you’re only strapped in across the top of your legs, so although it is safe, you don’t feel it. It’s incredibly smooth though, and like Air at Alton Towers, you feel like you’re flying. If you ever get the chance to go on it you should, it’s brilliant, and probably one of my favourites as well.

My baking architecture isn’t great, so I decided against making a model of the rollercoaster, and instead chose to make one around the theme of the ride. The idea is that it’s something to do with an expedition into the Himalayan mountains, and the logo on their theming looks like this:

So I decided to use the top half of the logo to base the design on. I won’t show you the drawings I did in advance because I’m not great at drawing and it would be embarrassing, but I did plan this one out before making it.

As Ryan is old enough now to know what he wants, I asked him what sort of cake he wanted, and he chose chocolate with raspberry jam, so it ended up looking like this:

basic cake

A little bit rough around the edges, but you can’t tell when it’s all covered with icing. The next step was to give it a crumb coating of icing to try and keep the top layers clean. I used chocolate butter icing, although in hindsight it probably would have  been more sensible to do a layer of marzipan, which would help protect against the chocolate icing discolouring the top layers. Fortunately it didn’t last long enough for that to happen.

crumb coating

You can see from the picture that there are quite a few white dots in the icing. That’s because I was lazy and didn’t sift the icing sugar before making it up. If the butter icing had been the top layer I would have done and it would have been a lot smoother, but as it was going to be covered, I cheated slightly.

The next layer was a layer of blue fondant icing for the sky, followed by a layer of white icing to make the outline of the mountains. I really need to start making my own fondant icing, to have more control over my colours and quantities, but I haven’t done it before so I bought ready made fondant and just had to roll it out.

photo 3 (5) fondant icing

It took me ages to get the hang of working with fondant icing and ending up with smooth sides, which I more or less managed with the blue layer, but you can see there are a few air bubbles in the white. I’ve learnt now to roll out the icing to a much bigger size than you need, then to lift the whole sheet over the cake with a rolling pin or pastry mat, and smooth down the top before the sides. With the sides, the way to avoid have crease lines is pulling the icing gently down and out as you straighten it, so you can pull the folds out and it ends up lying flat against the side of the cake.

The next step was writing the word Shambhala onto the cake, which I did just using a tube of red writing icing. I was worried about it running so I left the cake for a little while for the icing to dry out a bit, and then made sure I didn’t move onto the next stage until the red had run and hardened a little so I knew where the spread would be and it wouldn’t end up messy.

photo 1 (11)

When the red had dried enough, I added a snow drift to the top of the text and the mountains. It’s pretty delicate trying to use basic icing in such detail, but I discovered another use for the loom band making tool I used on the other two’s cake. Turns out it’s pretty good with runny icing…

photo 3 (4)photo 2 (11)

After that it was a simple case of drawing in a rollercoaster, some birds, some fondant icing for the sun, and the birthday message itself…

photo 1 (10)photo 4 (2)

Unfortunately the yellow icing wasn’t great and ended up running, so I decided to do a quick redesign on the bottom half and the cake actually ended up looking like this:

photo 2 (10)

Ryan had a birthday sleepover that weekend, and his friends were pretty impressed with it. Fortunately he is only 12, and he is still at the age where his friends are allowed to show positive feedback towards things. Give it a couple of years and I’ll be in a lose-lose situation! All in all, it seemed to go down ok. The cake tasted amazing, and really didn’t last that long between 7 hungry children!

photo 3 (3) photo 4 (1)

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