Trust The Process
I can't explain how cardiac-arrest-inducing winging a bespoke birthday cake like this can be. I've made Under the Sea themed cakes before - hand-modelled crabs, mermaid tails and macaron oysters for our Fantasy Mermaid cake, treasure chest cake etc. But my friend's two year old is fond of a lot of sea creatures. And the cake needed to feed 60.
A three tiered cake could easily feed 60, but there isn't much surface area to include loads of sea creatures. And I don't care much for 2D cut outs of fish shapes. It's simply not my style and looks a bit supermarket-y.
So I thought, WING IT. I made the cutest hand-modelled octopus with dangly tentacles (each little white sucker was hand-rolled and hand-plunged...and the lil sucker had a lot of suckers...freakin EIGHT tentacles!). I made a little clownfish family (she loves Nemo). And a fondant turtle too. But my favourites have got to be the pair of stingrays. I love the detailing on them!
Usually I'd also add some seashell pralines because they're delicious and so pretty. But there are a few nut allergy kids at the party so I omitted them. I had some fondant seashells made instead.
I baked chocolate, lemon, vanilla and rainbow cake layers in various sizes from 4" to 8". Going back to the structure of the cake...tiered vs non-tiered, I was still not feeling mega-tiered. I took inspiration from X-Ray's 3rd birthday Hungry Caterpillar cake and went with multi-cakes on board style.
60 peeps though (compared to X-Ray's low-key lockdown birthday in the park)! Hence needing some tiering action to build up cake portions. One was a 2-tier 6"/8", the other a tall 6", and a dinky 4".
It looked a bit crowded, and once I'd placed them all on the board, it still wasn't jumping out at me. I was getting a bit stressed so I took a knife and started carving out random bits, but being careful enough not to carve out too much because it still needs to feed 60! PS: I normally don't reach for a knife whenever I'm stressed btw. That would make me a psychopath.
Anyway, it took a real leap of faith to start carving out bits as I wasn't quite sure if it was going to look like what I had in mind. Which was actually still nothing, I had nothing in mind. I was just going with the flow. I then mixed some coral colours - oranges, pinks, yellows, in addition to the blues, purples and greens I already had for the cakes. You know how much I hate washing up, so this truly was a lot of love for the cake art (and my mate).
I then started piping coral reef details. A lot of the images on google and pinterest had cartoon-ish coral detailing on the cakes. Or lots of fondant. Or too abstract and clinical with perfectly executed piping. Again, not my style. With nothing to copy I did what I do with most of our cakes - freestyled. I switched up nozzles and colours and kept filling the grooves.
It was coming together! It actually started looking a lot more like what I COULD HAVE HAD in my mind (but still didn't).
I added some multi-tonal seagrass and biscuit crumbs. The thing just came ALIVE. It POPPED. I was buzzing.
I almost did not want to add the fondant toppers because the piping was looking so imperfectly perfect. But I did. And it JUMPED. If the cake could jump, it was doing star-fish jumps. I can't love a cake more! I did ditch the fondant seashells. There was no room for them and who cares about unnecessary fondant lumps anyway.
I slept for ten hours solid after this. I'm not saying I'm Emma Raducanu but this was exhausting. Bespoke cakes always are, hence I'm only going to take on a few (and only if I think I can knock it out of the park).
Trust the process.
Lots of love,