I grew up in Pennsylvania Dutch county, otherwise known as the land of the baked good. Okay, so I just made that name up, but the truth is that most of my memories of my grandmother involve her standing in the kitchen, handing me little cups with semi-sweet morsels, baking me tiny milk pies with leftover dough. Despite the copious amounts of baking that went on in my valley, the resulting cakes and pies were never going to win any awards for presentation. They tasted like a little slice of heaven, but they looked like they had been frosted with a butter knife (which they almost always had been).
My great-aunt Jeanette’s cakes were different. She and her husband spent hours in their kitchen making beautiful creations, including my first birthday cakes and my it’s-your-brother’s-birthday-but-here-is-a-little-cake-for-you cakes. When it came time to bake my daughter’s first birthday cake, I thought of Nette and decided to make something better than just a single level sheet cake.
I went crazy and baked a two layer sheet cake. I know. I was living on the edge.
The cake was actually a little fancy, colored with some strange aerosol yellow cake spray that filled my parents’ kitchen with an ominous yellow cloud and finished with rainbow sprinkles that bounced off of the tile floor like impossible to catch colorful bugs. Eight years later, I’m fairly sure my parents are still finding those little balls of candy goodness stuck to their socks as they walk through the kitchen.
After my first success, I decided to go big or go home.
There was Elmo, whose fur was made of dozens of individual dots of icing, all made while my pregnant-self tried desperately not to throw up.
Then there was the year that I decided to make a pasture for some ponies…
The next cake I blame 100% on my mother-in-law who got me a subscription to Good Housekeeping. I suspect that not many women in their twenties read that magazine, but one issue with a section on cakes tapped into that over-achieving, baker-wanna-be part of my brain, and this was the result:
I went so far over the top with that cake including the homemade strawberry frosting that really would have preferred to slide right off of the white chocolate and graham cracker jewelry box lid that was propped up with cans of Diet Dr. Pepper that I took a break for awhile, focusing instead on cute cupcakes. But like most addicts, there was something that drew me back into the cake making frenzy. So last weekend I attempted my first topsy-turvy cake with homemade marshmallow fondant:
If you decide to attempt to make a topsy-turvy cake, I’m going to suggest that you watch the tutorial or read the post instructions all the way through. I have no patience so once I thought I had the general idea of how to proceed, I went for it. No one was hurt and the final product turned out just fine, but learn from my mistakes. I won’t tell you what those mistakes were…but just trust me. Read the whole post.
As for the fondant, it tasted incredible and was easy to work with, easy to make. Here is the recipe for the marshmallow fondant.
And now I wait for my son’s sixth birthday this spring. I should have had more kids…