A fun Challenge

My niece is turning 11 tomorrow. When I met my husband she was a scant 5 months old. Over the years she has spent many sleep-overs at our house and I love her like my own daughter. She is my girl-energy, my connection to the young women generation.


This is L. in 2008, the year we started a tradition:


Crazy-cakes for her Birthday at the beginning of February. This one was a very healthy, all organic vanilla-flavoured Gugelhopf, covered in a totally insane, and of course totally unhealthy amount of candy and blue-dyed, organic lemon icing. Inspired by Tessa Kiros' "Apple For Jam" cookbook– the Pandoro Birthday Cake on Page 417.


As you can see, it was swiftly munched up. 


Resulting in a pack of high-sugar strung children. Huxley was a sweet 3 and 3/4 in this shot.

The cake was such a hit with L. and her friends, that it started this crazy cake-making tradition. 

For the past two years we made a pop-rock cake with white chocolate. (It was eaten too fast for me to even take a picture). This idea came through a word game (don't ask…)

A few weeks back, in mid-january, I got a call from L. asking me if I would possibly be able and willing to please make her birthday cake again. I immediately said "Sure thing! Count on me!". Upon which followed an e-mail with this:


First I swallowed hard a few times – I am no cake decorator, I can bake an edible concoction, bake a cake with no recipe, but looking pretty – not so much. Could I possibly tell my niece that it was not possible? I would have felt bad. So some R&D was in order. After spending upwards of 5 hours zooming around the world wide web and hence taking a theoretical crash-course in cake decorating, I decided that it should be doable (somewhat). I had made plain marzipan many times and growing up in Switzerland, marzipan was sold in every bakery shop in the shape of cute animals and fruit. I learned about fondant, how to make it, how to apply it to a cake and how to make animals out of gum paste. I looked up addresses of suppliers in Toronto. Luckily just before I got into the car to buy me some gumpaste, I read a comment that called it edible, yet not palatable. So back to the idea of marzipan I went. 

L. came by for a visit a couple of weeks ago and we dyed the marzipan with gel food colours (something rather against my eating philosophy, but hey, can't always be perfectly adhering to my life manifestos.) Yesterday I baked a simple vanilla cake from a PC' Choice Organics cake mix (I needed to recoup some time, and considering how much other stuff was going into the cake I figured it wouldn't make a huge difference). I baked 2 8" vanilla cakes with some added white chocolate chips. Once cooled, I  added some butter-cream frosting, sprinkled the bottom layer with fancy white chocolate chunks put the second layer on it. The whole cake was then heavily frosted with all the butter-cream frosting I had left (this is why the cake looks so soft and cushy, rather than tall and hard-edged (note to self, add less butter cream next time). After I made the marshmallow fondant, L. helped me dye it to just the right shade of pink. 

This is what the final result looked like:


Some detail shots: 

L. made the bowl and the sleeping bag by herself. I helped with the pillow


L.'s slippers, with flowers of her own design


I made this little marzipan bear

This box is what L. left with:


Home-made too. 


Here is the note I got from my Sis-in-Law today:

Thank you so much Monika!!!! Your cake was amazing to look at and soooooo delicious! The girls loved it! That was very generous of you. As usual, L. was the belle of the ball with such an amazing cake and got to show it off …I took the paper off of it as soon as we got home and it sat in front of them for 3 hours before they got to eat it! Thank you...

I can go to bed and sleep well, then worry about what I might need to create to trump this years cake…

Recipe Links


Best butter cream Frosting  

Instructions to apply fondant: youtube, search for: applying fondant.

What this exercise has taught me is that no matter how challenging something looks, with dedication, RESEARCH, patience and courage, anything can be accomplished. And no, I won't be studying cake decorating and no!, I also won't be for hire to make cakes… (not to worry hubby!).


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