I have always enjoyed baking and, while I have not had any formal training and would certainly not consider myself a skilled baker, I have always been one to "dream big". Often that leads to culinary disasters since I get partway in to a big project and realize that I'm in way over my head!
For my daughter's first birthday in 2008 I wanted to make her a homemade birthday cake. I was hoping to make something special and that tasted as good as it looked. I decided to attempt to make a pig cake to go along with our farm animal party theme. We were expecting about 40 guests so I needed something big that would serve everyone. The obvious choice was a sheet cake. After testing a few recipes I decided on a white cake with a vanilla butter cream frosting. Here is the end result:
For her second birthday this past November, I decided to raise the bar a little bit. We were doing a zoo theme for the party so, after searching for cake ideas, I finally set my sights on one particular design that I had seen. The cake was a tiered cake with a fondant icing. I have made very few tiered cakes in my life and had never worked with fondant so I knew it would be quite the challenge. In addition, the photo of the cake that I was attempting to re-create had many small animals decorating the top of the cake that were made entirely of edible fondant!
After a few trial runs of the cake (who wants to eat a birthday cake that doesn't taste good too?), several hours of labor and some online baking tips later, the cake was finished. Here is the end result!
While it certainly isn't perfect, my daughter loved it and our guests gobbled it up quickly and many asked for seconds! The bottom tier of the cake is a white cake with a rhubarb blueberry filling. The top tier is a dense, rich chocolate cake with a hazelnut cream filling. The icing is marshmallow cream fondant and all of the animals on top are made of edible fondant.
I have realized that making homemade birthday cakes is actually not very difficult and can be quite fun! I am already looking forward to my son's first birthday and my daughter's third birthday next fall so I can play "Cake Boss" yet again!