It’s been awhile since I posted anything but I’m hoping to get back on track and be a little more regular. Today’s cake carried with it some of the biggest pressure I’ve ever put myself under. This cake had to be at least 99.9% perfect because it was a gift to my wife for her 40th birthday, a Suitcase cake.
This is a suitcase cake made from red velvet with cream cheese icing, decorated in fondant. I bet you thought this was to symbolise travel! Well you were wrong. My wife loves to collect old suitcases and travel trunks. They all have a purpose from storing craft supplies, Christmas decorations to firewood. All except one which is a 1920’s steamer trunk which while sturdy is a little fragile but you would be too at 90 odd years old. The colour and style came from a case that that she bought home after her brothers wedding. The one I made the cake for in March (can’t remember? click here to take a look.) The only difference was that this cake has buckles instead of latches at my wife’s request. It did make things a bit easier for me too.
So the process was to bake two 11 x 15 slabs made using the recipe I got from Gretchen’s Bakery. I made the first batch using the full recipe and the cake was barely an inch tall and due to the floor of my 60 year old house not being flat it was very noticeable that the cake wasn’t level.
So that made for a great test cake (which tasted awesome!) while I went and made a double batch. The double batch was perfect, I like my layers to be about 1-1/2″ or 40mm tall and with a quick trim off the top that’s what they were.
I trimmed the sides so they were square and filled and crumb coated it with cream cheese icing ready to add the fondant.
The cake board was a map of Australasia. It needed to be offset so that when the cake was placed on you could see both Papua New Guinea (where she was Born) and the east coast of Australia where we live now. I moved the cake into position and this is where things started to go pear shaped.
Those of you who follow me would know that I haven’t done much in the way of fondant covered cakes and as much as I try and learn from other blogs and videos I still have issues with what thickness to roll the fondant too. Some say 1/8″ some 1/4″ I’ve even read to go to 3/8″, my guess is that it should be thick enough not to tear while putting it onto the cake but not so thick that it stops you tasting the cake. As you can tell I still have no idea but I can tell you I had 2 goes with this cake because the first one tore. The problem I had was it was nearly 12 am and the crumb coat had softened enough to stick all over the fondant which meant I couldn’t rework it so I had to recolour a new batch and start again. This time I rolled it closer to 1/4″ than 1/8″ thick and I’m pleased to say I had no tearing. Finally using the fondant tool and a ruler I scribed a line all the way around the cake to give the suitcase a its lid.
Now for the other bits, to make the corner protectors I rolled out the darker blue and using an 1-1/2″ cookie cutter cut the circles and placing the center of the circle on the corner of the cake smoothed it around the 3 sides. For the bottom I cut the circles in half and using a fondant tool formed it to look as if it was coming from under the cake.
Next were the two belts and buckles. Again I measured and rolled out the fondant and cut it into two long strips. I used the embossing tool to give the edges of the belt a sewn look, then cut about 3″ off one end, rounded one of the ends and put them aside. I grabbed the remaining strip and laid it into position over the cake. Next was to place the smaller piece over the top of the long piece to make the end of the belt. Using some black fondant I rolled it into a thin strip, this was for the buckle. I laid it above the smaller strip letting it drape down a little, then formed it to look like the main part of the buckle. Using the pointy end of the fondant tool I made the belt holes making sure they were evenly spaced and one was near the buckle. To finish it off I placed the pin (a tiny piece of black fondant) into the hole nearest the buckle.
The second last job was the handle. Taking some of the left over belt I made two squares and stuck them on the front of the cake then rolled out a thick log of black fondant and shaped into the handle.
The final job was to cut out the letters for the “Happy 40th Rach”, I used some orange that I’d made up awhile ago that I was going to use for the mAd HaTtErS cAkE but it was going to make it too Irish so it has been sitting in waiting for perfect for the job.With that done and a quick tidy up it was 2:30 am and I headed to bed, only 12-1/2 hrs till the party started and there was still plenty of party prep to do.
The party was a great success, everybody had a great time! There was heaps of food, music, drinking and a little bit of dancing around the drum fires to keep warm as the night rolled on. Here is the official cutting of the cake.
And in true family tradition the cake was cut using the hand cut method to the delight of everyone there.
I was really proud of this cake, it came out just how I had wanted it too. Yes there were flaws in it and yes there were issues along the way but I love that each cake is a new challenge and each cake is individual. I love that I push myself to create works of art with details some people wouldn’t even notice but I feel are important for the look of the cake. I know full well I will never make a real profit out of these cakes but I never started out to do that. It’s for fun to learn and to challenge myself, don’t get me wrong if someone wants to order a cake I won’t knock it back but thankfully I’m not looking for a cake order to pay the bills. I just want to keep learning and creating great cakes.
Thanks for Readin’