My daughter Kristin celebrated her birthday this past weekend and I wanted to come up with a different cake for her this year… Since she has recently decided to rappel off of the Vancouver Hyatt Hotel for charity, I thought I would try making a cake that demonstrated that. (Click here for more info on Kristin’s challenge in the ‘Rope for Hope’ campaign for the Make-A-Wish Foundation)
There was quite a bit of fondant work to be done and because of the design, it needed to be done a few days in advance to allow it to dry up and harden somewhat. Unlike a more normal fondant cake where the rolled fondant is draped over the top and sides, this one needed vertical ‘walls’ so each side needed to be done 3-4 days ahead so that they could be stiff enough to stand up on each side of the cake.
Making the “Kristin” figure was really a lot like playing with PlayDoh and was easier than it looks but it too needed to be done in time to allow it to harden and dry, otherwise she would have been more of a blob hanging off the building. Creating the different parts out of various colours of fondant made it easier to model into shape rather than trying to paint it afterwards. A few toothpicks, some egg whites as glue and a little pearl dust as ‘blush’ brought it all together.
These pictures show the different stages: legs, upper body and finally propped up (creatively!) and drying. White dragees were used for the eyes with a bit of blue for irises added so that she doesn’t look so freakish — although she does look a bit freaked out by rappelling off a building!
With the walls of the hotel made several days in advance they were firm enough to stand vertically on the cake without slumping.
Adding black strips of fondant formed the windows of the different floors. A little egg white ‘painted’ on the windows also added some sheen to give them a glass-like look.
Getting the curve in the building where the balconies are was a bit tricky but I found that laying the fondant walls on a cookie sheet with a small piece of cardboard along one side propped up the one edge and created the curved edge of the balconies while the fondant was drying.
Even with reducing the height of the cake, it was still going to be a fair size to allow for the illusion of Kristin rappelling off of the roof. It ended up being 6 layers of 9″x9″ cake.
I used alternating chocolate and white layers with a supporting cake board between the bottom 3 layers and top 3 layers to prevent the cake from sagging. A support post and doweling were definitely needed to keep the layers all in line and well supported — especially considering the traveling this cake had to do to get to the party.
Tip: Before starting to stack a cake place strips of waxed paper around the edges and just tucked under the bottom layer. This way once the frosting is done, you can just pull them out and your base board or cake plate is clean from crumbs and excess frosting
Swiss meringue buttercream is such a nice, light and much less sweet buttercream than traditional buttercream and it worked really well here. I also added a thin layer of raspberry jam with the buttercream between layers to add a nice surprise. Once stacked and crumb coated, the challenge was to make this big square cake look like a hotel!
Tip: Crumb coating is a thin layer of icing over the whole cake that helps control the crumbs. Once completely coated you can then add a thicker layer to frost the cake or to secure fondant. With the crumb coat layer underneath you will not have worry about any crumbs showing through or getting caught in your frosting.