Happy 9th birthday to my sweet baby brother, Ryan. It's amazing how quickly time flies. Hard to believe he's 9 already, but I guess that's just how it goes.For his birthday party he decided to do a baseball theme. He is currently in little league, and this year his team is the A's. So, naturally, an A's baseball cake would fit the bill! I sent over a few rough sketches for him to pick through, and he ended up liking the one below the best. (I'm glad too because that was also my favorite!) :)
He decided (with a little help from my parents) on chocolate cake with a vanilla custard filling and buttercream icing. It was my first attempt at custard, and I'm pretty happy with the results! It definitely tasted better than a plain ol' box of pudding, but it certainly was a lot more work. But alas, he is always worth the extra effort. I also decided to try something else new for this cake. I've been playing around with royal icing before and really wanted to actually USE it on a cake. So being that it was my first attempt, I just decided to stick with something small, which in this case was his name, so that if anything went wrong it wouldn't be that big of a deal. I piped it out in a couple of different colors on to a cookie sheet the day before so that they would have enough time to harden. And the extra letters were to have as a backup in case I had any breakage issues (which I did in the end. When I went to put the letters in to the cake at the party, the green "N" broke, so I ended up alternating colors in order to make it work.)
The cake and icing all came together smooth. I just find it really time consuming and right now I've only got so many hours in the day that I can devote to cakes. I had to juggle and rearrange some things in order to carve out enough time to get it all done. And so by Friday night at about 10pm I had the cakes leveled and ready to be put together, and all the icing coloring done.
The picture on the right is all the different colors I had to mix for the cake. (The pyrex bowl in the background is the custard filling). It's really amazing how long it takes just to color icing. Not to mention the huge mess it makes! I always start with a clean kitchen before I start coloring my icing, and it still always ends up a mess. I try to clean as I go, but it never fails; my kitchen is always a disaster zone by the time the cake is completely done.
Anyhoo...I did have a few issues with the initial crumb coat. I think I may have made it a little too runny so it wasn't really "crusting" well. So when I went to put on the chocolate buttercream around the sides, it just didn't want to stick and kept sliding down the cake. But after a bit of fiddling with it (and praying), I was able to succesfully get it iced and decorated. Below is my "midnight update" picture that I sent to my mom. At that point I had most of it done; just needed to finish up the details.
After that, I started working on the mini baseballs that were supposed to go around the bottom of the cake. But because I was having issues getting the "stitching" on the balls to look right, I decided to nix that idea and go with something a lot simpler. I also decided not to do the baseball bats around the sides because I was simply running out of time and, more importantly, energy.
*As a side note: I was SUPER excited to use the new turn table that my grandma had bought me for Christmas! You can't really see it in the picture above because the cake board was covering it. But wow... it really made things a lot easier, especially since a 14 in round cake isn't really all that easy to move around while trying to decorate. With the turn table I was able to swivel it around as I pleased and it made it SOO much easier to work with. Thanks Grandma!!*
By 1:30am I was done with the cake. I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out. I was especially pleased with the hat. The A's logo was done completely freehand. I was originally going to do a frozen buttercream transfer, but just decided to freehand it to save time. Also, the hat and baseball were made completely out of cake. Actually, the ball was a cupcake! And it was all decorated in buttercream icing, all the way down to the brim of the hat.
The pictures below aren't the final pictures of the cake. These are just ones I was able to snap before I left for the party. Once I got there I put the letters of his name on the baseball (refer to the sketch). But at this point I haven't gotten any of the pictures from the party yet. But when I do I'll be sure to post them.
When I showed up at the party everyone seemed really surprised and impressed. I think Ryan really liked the cake, and so did the other kids. Some of the kids even thought there was real grass on it! Haha. I did get some great feedback on the cake from the other parents that were there about the taste and looks . It's always good to know people enjoy the actual taste of the cake and not just the way it looks!