Seeing as I just finished Ethan’s 5th birthday cake, I figured it was time to post his 4th birthday cake! So I’m a year late – no big deal…right?
The biggest challenge to this cake was the fish bowl teetering on the edge of the cat’s hat. I knew the key to the cake was going to be good support – especially since the cake had to make two 20 minute car trips. I started by constructing a custom base for the cake. And of course, that led me to Home Depot. (One of my chefs at the CIA once said that home improvement stores were a great place to find chef supplies – this has proven to be true over the years.) I bought a piece of particle board, PVC piping and some do-hicky that would attach the two together. Then I borrowed a friend’s jiq-saw, donned some sun-glasses (didn’t have any safety-goggles) and prayed that I could cut a semi-decent circle. Once the base was successfully put together (and I still had all my fingers and toes) it was time to assemble the cake.
The cake itself was made from 4 8″ round cakes, each split once and filled, for a total of 8 layers of cake. The fishbowl was constructed out of rice krispey treats, then covered in white fondant. I molded the fish out of gum paste and threaded him onto a wire to dry. I purposely kept the cake black & white with just a few splashes of muted color. If you look closely at the book, the illustrations are done in a similar manner. To add extra support for the fish bowl, which did end up heavier than I anticipated, I cut a small hole in the central PVC pipe that ran up the center of the cake. Once the cake was fully assembled and iced, I threaded a medium wooden dowel through the cake, into the hole in the PVC pipe, leaving 4-5″ of the dowel exposed at the top of the cake. This was what I intended to hold up the fish bowl – especially because I wanted the bowl to “defy” gravity and wobble on the edge of the hat. So far – so good. I was impressed with myself that I had designed this support system in my head and then managed to construct it as well! So holding my breath, I carefully placed the fishbowl on top and smiled. It was perfect – just like I had envisioned. I added the fish, and took some pictures, and I was done.
I waited for my friend to come and pick up the cake, and decided to clean up all my supplies. I was putting something away in the basement and then I heard a THUD! My heart skipped a beat. I stood completely still. I thought long and hard about what was upstairs that could have made that loud, dull THUD. I knew exactly what had made that noise, but I was not ready to admit to myself what it could be…. I walked slowly up the stairs and was sickened to see the fishbowl lying on my kitchen floor! Yep – if anyone wants to know the sound an edible fishbowl makes when it falls off a cake – it is a nice dull THUD. Turns out, the bowl was just too heavy for the wooden dowel and it actually pulled the dowel out of its hole in the PVC piping. The worst part was, as I was picking the bowl up off the floor, my friend pulled into the driveway to pick up the cake. Luckily, she is a wonderful friend and stood by patiently as I tried to put the cake back together as best as possible. Unfortunately, when the bowl fell, it took a chunk of the cake with it. I did my best to patch everything back together, but in the end, the bowl was placed in the center of the hat, where it could be supported properly. (The picture is pre-disaster – I didn’t think to take another after fixing the cake.) At that point, I was just happy to be able to send out an intact cake!
All in all, I would consider the cake a success because I learned a lot. Probably more than if everything would have gone smoothly. (Not going to lie – I haven’t attempted a big 3-D cake since then, but I did learn a thing or two