Sunday, June 09, 2013

Sewing Machine

I generally write the bulk of my posts before I start working on a cake or while it's in the oven because I know what my generic plans are.  It gives me time to write up a little blurb about why I am making the cake, talk about the customer, or any techniques that I needed to study to make it happen, before the cake is done and I'm beat and put it off for a few days (in this case... a month!).

I was a little iffy to do this one ahead of time.  I came up with the idea for my sister in-laws cake last night for her party tomorrow (my brother forgot to tell me about the party, assuming our parents would pass it on, forgetting that I don't live with them anymore.  Silly Jeff) and really think this might be a little complicated.  Boyfriend suggested I make a giant candle for a cake, and I really toyed around with that for a while.  A dowel in the top with rice crispy treats shaped like a flame covered in fondant up top.  It would work, and it would be adorable.  But not for Vicky.  That would work for a kids birthday.  Or maybe for his party next year.

Vicky is a great mom and has gotten into sewing clothes for her daughter, so I thought a sewing machine would be fitting.  I found a few cute styles and just figured I would wing it.  Something generic, not modeled after a specific brand or machine, just one that looks like a sewing machine.

When I was picking up supplies at my local bulk store, I saw the sprinkle bins and had a brainwave!  The long sprinkles would look like stitches, so I decided to put a piece of 'fabric' under the needle and have the stitches spell out Happy Birthday Vicky.

I read a bunch of pages on how to make one of these, and noticed that most people had an issue with the rice crispy top.  I liked the idea of using crispies, and figured I could find a way to make it work.  However, I didn't do any reading... I just thought I would do it different/better.  Nope.  The fondant is too heavy and is pulling it down.  I popped the crispies in the fridge to harden up, but it wasn't enough.  Maybe 3 day old stale crispies, but who would want to eat those?  I know I should have bought another cake board to sit it on.  I knew this as I left the bulk store 2  days ago, but stupidly, I thought I could make it work.

Silly Jen.

On to the Cake:

I started with a half slab and used just shy of half for the bottom and cut the rest in 3 to stack for the tall side bit.

Jen Bakes Cakes
I could have turned it into the Monty Python foot from here...
Next it was onto the structural element - the crispie treat top.  This can only mean one thing - delicious crispie treats!  Ok two.  Crispie Treats and some very sticky hands.
Jen bakes cakes
Deliciousness assemble!

Jen Bakes Cakes

I shaped the top piece and set it in the fridge to harden up a bit to see if that would fix the drooping.

Jen Bakes Cakes
It didn't.

While that was doing nothing in the fridge, I moved on to a decorative piece.  Can you guess what it's going to turn into?

Jen Bakes Cakes
No, not a crispie lolly-pop.  Although that's what I really wanted it to be.
Jen Bakes Cakes
How about now?

 When the top was sufficiently hardened (ha!), and all the fondant was on the bottom, I popped it on top and covered it in buttercream to try and fill in all the yummy nooks and crannies, and to help the fondant adhere better.  I used some doweling to be both the needle and the support.  I think this would have worked very well for a support if I had the cake board under the whole crispie. 

Jen Bakes Cakes
You can actually tell what this is supposed to be here!

 All that was left to do now was to finish off the fondant work and add all the decorations

Jen Bakes Cakes
I should have covered the crispie to look like wood, but cute none-the-less.

 Finished Product!  Definitely a 'first attempt' looking cake, but I was very proud of it.  So many notes for next time, but Vicky and family loved it.  And I loved the crispie top that I got to bring home.  I sliced it like biscotti, and shared it at work the next day.  It almost didn't make it there.

In the end, I am very happy with the outcome.  I worked around some problems with 3d fondant work that I had with the dump truck, and this looks much better.  I still have some seams visible, and if this weren't for a family member I would have worked a little longer to hide them better.

I don't like how the fondant looks over the crispies, but short of doing two layers of it, or fully coating it with buttercream I think that will always show.  I could have made the top out of cake resting on the cake board, and it would have had the smooth finish that I was hoping for, but there are only 11 of us eating it, and that would have just been way too much cake.  Yes, leftovers are great, but last time I went over board on the Barbie cake they were eating cake for a week.  Not the end of the world, but they didn't want cake in the house that long.

I know it's starting to become routine to end every post saying 'lesson learned', but truly this time I have learned a few things:

1.  I am good at what I do, but I can't assume that I can just fix a problem everyone else has with out researching.
2.  If I realize I am taking a shortcut that I probably won't work out, stop and do it right.  My work will only turn out better.
3.  Laziness is not a reason to cut corners.  I needed another cake board, but I didn't want to drive 3km to go can get it.  Or even still, didn't want to walk back in to the store before leaving the parking lot when I realized I needed it. 

I can only grow and get better if I learn from my mistakes.
I hope I get another chance to make a sewing machine.  I could really make it much better next time.

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