This is the story of a lovely pint cake that almost didn’t make it . . .
My dad’s birthday is July 2nd.
Last year my family was in Florida around July 6th, when my mom was telling a story about how he had just turned 60. “No he didn’t,” I said . . . “he hasn’t had his birthday yet!” As soon as I spoke those words, that’s when I realized . . . I had forgotten his birthday! And a big birthday, at that – whoops!
To make up for it, I made one of his favorite desserts as a gift – strawberry rhubarb pie. Complete with pie crust from scratch.
(lucky for me, he keeps forgetting that I forgot his birthday last year).
This year, I was determined not to forget his birthday, and to make a cake that he would love.
My dad is a huge beer fanatic and a home brewer. He especially loves hops, and almost anything from Stone Brewing Company. I decided it would be fun if I made him a cake that looked like a pint of one of his favorite beers.
After a few google searches, I came up with a plan for the cake. Two 6-inch cakes, stacked with a cake circle dividing them. I also planned to use a center dowel through the cake, that I had sharpened – so that it would also go into the cake board for support. I measured a pint glass and then scaled it to size for the cake, so that I would have an estimate for the top and bottom circumferences.
I covered the cake board with fondant to look like wood, and made some hops out of gum paste. I actually ended up scrapping the first chocolate cake, since it was too tender for sculpting. After baking a second chocolate cake, I stacked them. Vanilla cake with caramel buttercream filling on the bottom, then a cake board, then the chocolate cake with raspberry filling.
At this point, I had a double barrel cake. What I should’ve done is add supports to the vanilla cake, since the weight of the chocolate cake ended up causing trouble later. Hey – hindsight is 20/20, right?
I proceeded to carve the cake, tapering it down to resemble a pint glass. Then it was crumb coated in some beautiful Swiss meringue buttercream, and chilled in the fridge while I rolled out the fondant.
The fondant was another story. Since I had added so much gel color, the fondant was extra soft and a little fragile. That’s the trouble with dark colors and fondant. I tried to “panel” the cake, by wrapping the sides, but that did not work out well. I ended up covering it like a normal cake, but it took 4 tries :). After the brown fondant was on, I added a strip of white fondant along the top, then filled the top area with buttercream, to resemble foam.
The beer label was printed on an icing sheet that I cut out with an X-Acto knife.
At this point, I could tell the cake was top heavy and somewhat fragile.
The evening’s plans were that I was driving the cake to my parents house, then we were meeting my sister and brother-in-law at a restaurant. I just figured that I would drive “extra careful” over to my parents house with the cake.
I loaded the cake onto my floorboard . . . but as soon as I started the car, I knew this wasn’t going to go well. The cake was not supported well, and it was very top heavy! At the first turn, it tried to topple right over.
So what was I to do? I crouched down, placed one hand down on the cake to steady it, one hand on the steering wheel, driving 5-10 mph below the speed limit . . . braking excessively around every corner. I bet the people behind me were super excited 🙂 I think I need one of those “cake on board” signs for my car! (my birthday is coming up – you know you want to buy me one)
Well, after 15 minutes of driving, praying, and straining my muscles in an awkward position . . . the bottom tier of cake had compressed down, the fondant was wavy/bulged at the bottom, and the dowel was sticking out of the top of the cake.
Thankfully, my dad drove us to the restaurant and I was able to carry the cake in a more secure position! The good news was . . . at least the cake would still taste good, and my mom still thought it looked great. Upon arriving to the restaurant, I got a lot of nice compliments on the cake, even though I thought it was a little disastrous!
Honestly, every cake is a lesson learned . . . this was still a double barrel cake, which meant it needed support in the bottom tier! I also need to fasten the bottom support of the cake more securely to the cake board. I am glad that my family still loved it!