Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Cake Engineering

I'm going to turn 33 soon, and aside from knees that crack when I stand and that one hair that keeps growing in stark white right in the front of my head, I still feel young.

Or I did, that is, until my oldest nephew Ryan graduated from high school a couple of weeks ago.  I knew it was coming, but while watching him shake the hands of the friends and family, I realized that this baby my sister once had is now a legal adult.  Old enough to vote.  Responsible for himself.  Moving out.

Ryan at about 6 years old.
And I, therefore, feel about one graduation ceremony older than dirt.

I would also like to take this opportunity to issue the following executive order to my other three nephews:  Ethan, Keaton and Jared-- from this point onward I am subtracting five years from your current age and you will not be permitted to age.  I apologize if this causes any inconvenience.

I was asked to make a cake for the festivities, and since Ryan is entering the Engineering program at ISU in the fall, my sister suggested that something with gears would fit the theme.  I considered a number of options.  I could make a few cakes that are all independently gear-shaped, but I knew that covering those uniquely shaped cakes in fondant would surpass my skills.  Once it was determined that I would make one centerpiece cake and supplement with additional cake, I thought about making several sheet cakes to feed additional guests, but I knew that the more cake I had to decorate, the less time I'd be able to devote to making the gear cake really awesome.

After all, we all know that I do my best "caking" after midnight, but I'm only one person.  Trying to feed one hundred.  

With that math in my mind, I decided to order three trays of 24 cupcakes from HyVee that would be frosted but not decorated.  I'd make the gear cake with what I hoped would look like riveted panels, and cover it with candy melts poured into molds shaped like nuts, bolts and gears.  I'd use the same shaped candy to decorate the cupcakes.


As is always the case, I wasn't able to execute my plan to perfection.  Mixing black and white fondant produced more of a brownish-purple shade, and the addition of a few copper gears to the black and white ones made my intention of "engineering" a metallic looking cake fall short.  But what I ended up with was still pretty cool, and all of Ryan's friends seemed to enjoy it, and his Engineering teacher requested some photos to share with the class.

More than anything, I got to make a cake for my nephew that made him smile.  And you know what's even better?  I stayed up until almost 4am and was still able to walk the next day.  Maybe I'm not so old after all...

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