Ipso Fatto Instant Photos: Stella Turns Five!

Having had an opportunity to practice my basic fondant skills with a birthday cake for my cousin's son Josh, I felt prepared to tackle a special birthday cake request for Stella, the middle daughter of our friends Jim and Colleen. Like last year, Stella's birthday celebration was an outdoor pool party. But this time she wanted a swimming pool cake to match.

I needed a large cake, so I made a two-layer half sheet cake using Rose Levy Bernabaum's base formula for white butter cake in The Cake Bible. I filled and frosted it with her Neoclassic Buttercream to which I added a little Cointreau (the alcohol evaporates out -- so you can serve the frosting to kids without concern -- but it leaves behind a nice orange flavor).
I covered the entire cake in a layer of orange-flavored rolled fondant and filled the pool with a thin layer of blue royal icing. In retrospect I wish I had used fondant for the pool water instead or added some corn syrup to the blue royal icing so that it would not have dried hard; not surprisingly, the icing cracked when I cut the cake. The lane markers are SweeTARTS Mini Gummies that I cut in half and embedded in the royal icing while it was still wet.
The swimmers are also made of fondant. I cheated and ordered a 3D-printed plastic cutter from Etsy; I wouldn't have been able to cut the swimmers freehand. And I thought about giving the swimmers royal icing swimsuits and faces but decided to go with a more conceptual look and leave well enough alone.

Stella loved her cake and asked for a slice with a swimmer on it. Fortunately, the cake tasted as good as it looked -- I have made Rose Levy Beranbaum's white butter cake before and it has a tight, fine, tender crumb and is wonderfully moist. The orange buttercream was fantastic. And everywhere I looked there were kids with smiling faces, empty plates, and bright blue tongues.

Recipes: "Base Formula for White Butter Cake," "Neoclassic Buttercream," and "Classic Rolled Fondant" from The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum.

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Louise said…
People that I worked with always joked that "Everyone needs a fall back position." I think we know what yours is. We were all IT but came up with some ridiculous ideas such as Walmart greeter.
Cake decorating could be my fallback only if it's limited to decorating schemes that don't require any drawing or sculpting talent! Good thing I like my day job! :)