Birthday | Five Little Monkeys

| Birthdays


It seems like just yesterday we were baking for Roxana and Al’s baby shower. Now the baby is celebrating its first birthday! Oh, how time flies.

The birthday party theme was based on the Five Little Monkeys Jumping on a Bed nursery rhyme. While I didn’t grow up with that song, there are plenty of cute videos on Youtube and lots of photos online of cakes based on that theme. It was a fun to imagine and create my own version. I don’t typically make fondant decorated cakes, but I enjoyed the challenge!

For this cake, I made a buttermilk vanilla cake, with lemon curd and vanilla buttercream filling. All of the decor was made with fondant, with tiny amounts of royal icing where needed to glue items together. I switched to the higher quality Carma Massa Ticino Tropic fondant for most of my work on this cake, using Les Chocolats Roxy & Rich Fondust (amazing stuff if you haven’t tried it before) to color the dark brown and orange. Carma fondant is much more malleable and moist than, say, Satin Ice fondant, making it more forgiving and less prone to elephant skin, and thus providing a longer time window to work with. In retrospect, I probably would use Satin Ice or something stiffer for the monkeys so that they hold shape better (without any sag), but I made the monkeys a few days in advance and was able to have them dry enough for assembly.


The flooring is a fondant covered cake board, scored to give detail to individual wood planks and wood grain. I then painted them with black, brown and gray petal dust (mixed with Everclear). The natural pooling and wetness of the paint helped create the wood grain colors, and made the flooring a lot easier to accomplish than I originally imagined. The headboard for the bed was the same idea.


With stiffer fondant, I might have attempted a monkey doing a headstand, but with the Carma fondant, I settled for 4 sitting monkeys and 1 standing (which required overnight drying before assembly of parts).



One of my favorite details on this cake is the underside of the quilted comforter, which was a windowpane design painted onto white fondant.


Et voilà!


For the baby’s smash cake, I made a banana cake, using honey instead of sugar, and frosted with honey-sweetened Greek yogurt. With a monkey face of course 🙂


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4th of July | Flag Birthday Cake

| Birthdays, Holidays


My birthday is just shy of July 4th, but it has always been fun to combine birthday celebrations with 4th of July weekend getaways and BBQs. This year, still inspired by summer fruits, I made a blueberry buttermilk cake, with pastry cream custard filling and homemade raspberry-strawberry jam. The blueberry buttermilk cake is actually one that I haven’t made in a long time, but I happened to remember it when I was brainstorming and it turned out to be a great building block.


As for the decoration, I had been thinking about red, white and blue for the cake, but not necessarily a flag cake. But as I was playing with the berry milk crumbs and extra blueberries I had, I kept gravitating towards a stripe theme. To make red stripes on the side of the cake, I frosted with buttercream, chilled the cake in the freezer, and then wrapped acetate strips around the cake.


I pressed the berry milk crumbs against the exposed buttercream.


And then pulled away the acetate strips to reveal clean lines.


For the top, I piped buttercream with a star tip and placed blueberries in between. I wasn’t counting, but I believe I ended up with 47 blueberries. If I had known I was going to fit that many blueberries on the cake, I might have planned for 50 blueberries! Next time 🙂



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Birthday | Guava White Chocolate Mousse Cake

| Birthdays, Featured


I always recommend Extraordinary Desserts to any dessert fans who are visiting San Diego, and I love comparing notes afterwards about each person’s decadent experience. My friend Patricia is one such dessert fan, and for her birthday earlier this month, she knew she wanted to replicate her Extraordinary Desserts experience. She has a couple favorite cakes from the restaurant, but knowing that she intended to celebrate with a Brazilian BBQ birthday dinner, she requested the fruity and light Shangri-La cake as a nice contrast to the meat-heavy meal. I’m not sure I’ve ever had this cake at Extraordinary Desserts, but when I saw the description on the restaurant’s website, I was game to give it a try.


I made this cake with a basic white cake, cut into three layers. (I think the restaurant probably uses an almond sponge cake, but I realized that after the fact.) Each layer was soaked with a Kirschwasser simple syrup, then topped with guava mousse (made with guava puree to ensure a distinctive and fresh guava flavor), chopped strawberries and white chocolate mousse.


After letting the stacked layers set in the freezer in a ring mold, I then crumb coated the layered cake with a plain Swiss meringue buttercream. For the sides of the cake, I pressed on white and pink chocolate curls, as I loved that look on the website. For the top of the cake, I piped buttercream rosettes and other patterns over sliced strawberries, and used additional chocolate curls as filler.



The individual flavors in this cake are unusual, but when paired together, they go surprisingly well together. On their own, I’m not a fan of white chocolate, or Kirshwasser, or even guava. But I’ll admit to enjoying the combination!

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