Sunday, November 15, 2009

Polka Dot Birthday Cake

This past week (yes, it took an entire week) I made a birthday cake for Madison, Ben's cousin, who turned 14. She wanted a three tier cake with bright color polka dots and let me tell you, I was NERVOUS about making this cake. I mean, I've made a two tier cake before, but never three! And I had never done bright polka dots either! This was going to be a challenge, but one that I readily accepted!

I began researching and luckily I know someone who is a cake expert who was really helpful (but probably got slightly irritated that I asked her questions just about everyday!). She suggested that I make fondant for the polka dots. This way I could make them ahead of time and could just place them on the cake rather than having to use icing.

I found a marshmallow fondant recipe for the polka dots (which definitely tastes better than regular fondant...less chalky and cardboardy). This was the first thing I made for the cake (on Monday evening). It must be refrigerated for at least 24 hours before dyeing it. I used Kroger brand neon food coloring and I definitely recommend it if you want bright colors.

Before I started dyeing the fondant, I covered the fronts and backs of my hands with crisco, which kept them from being permanently dyed hot pink or lime green! Or I guess you could wear gloves, but that would be taking the easy way out! To make the polka dots, I searched my kitchen for all sorts of different sized glasses - juice glass, shot glass, the reverse side of a icing tip, etc.

Here are the three cakes before I stacked them. Once they were stacked, I stuck a 1/4" wooden dowel rod, which I sharpened with a pencil sharpener, down the middle of each cake to hold them in place. To smooth out the cakes, I used a trick that I have begun to see more often: The Viva Paper Towel. AMAZING! These paper towels are definitely worth the cost. I smoothed out the cakes as much as I could with an offset spatula, then let the icing dry about 30-45 minutes before smoothing it out with the paper towel. Here's a video that demonstrates this technique.

I used buttercream icing for the entire cake. I doubled this recipe and even had some left over!

2 lbs powdered sugar (10x sifted)
2 tablespoons Wilton Meringue powder
2 dashes salt
2 cups white crisco
2 teaspoons Wilton no-color butter flavor
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
6 tablespoons water

Cream shortening, add butter flavor and vanilla and mix well. Add Meringue powder, sugar, and salt and gradually add water.

Make sure you add a little more water than it calls for, because the icing has to be very soft so it's easier to spread. I even stuck the cakes in the refrigerator for a while before icing them so they would harden a little.

To fill in the areas where the cakes didn't quite come together I used white icing and made large white dots. This way it didn't take away from the bright polka dots by adding another color to the cake.

This was the most challenging cake I have ever made, but I made it! Whew! I wonder what my next cake project will be! (Ben's birthday is in three months. It's going to be hard to top the fish cake.)


Diana said...

Wow! Jennifer, this looks awesome. It reminds me of a cake from Rick's! I just wish I could have a slice! Keep up the good work.

Polka Dot Sally said...

This is a great tutorial! I shared tonight at with a link back. My parents went to Rhodes! :) - Sally

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