Drum Roll Please!

This fabulous cake was for a friend and colleague of mine who has taught at my school for about as long as I can remember. He taught 3rd grade when I was in 3rd grade (although I wasn’t in his class), and was a dear friend of my mother’s. This year, he retired, and I was overjoyed that his wife asked me to make a cake for his retirement party.

His main interests (apart from teaching) being playing the drums (he’s a musician as well), art, and swimming, we decided to creatively represent all three of these.

I baked a combination of vanilla and chocolate cakes, and to add a bit of excitement, placed a chocolate layer in the vanilla cake. This was the bottom tier, and largest drum.

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The second, smaller drum, was entirely chocolate, and the ‘skin’ cover of the drum was blue, to represent a swimming pool.

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Making the metal fixings of the drums was tricky, but proved to be quite an important learning step for me. This was the first time I’d done anything like it, and getting to fondant around in one piece was difficult. I had to do it in two pieces for the largest drum, as using one one length kept tearing.

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Once I got it stuck on and let it set for a few minutes, I painted over the grey fondant with metallic silver food paint.

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I had one thin layer of chocolate cake leftover, and rather than throwing it away (I hate wasting, and I was out of space in my freezer to freeze it), I made a thin tambourine to sit on top. This was a total extra, but I thought it’d be nice to emphasize Robert’s passion for art by also including an artists’ palette; instead of just having drumstick paintbrushes.

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This part was a bit last-minute, and not as secure as I would have liked it to be, however the overall effect was striking.

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Everything (except dowel rods) is edible in the cake, including the drumstick paintbrushes which are made of fondant.

Happy Retirement!

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Guitar Cake

Hi everyone,

Today’s cake is one I made near the middle of June, for my Dad’s birthday. I’ve wanted to make this cake for a while now, because he loves guitars, plays them (quite well), and I love listening to him play. I grew up with his strumming, and recently, he’s gotten himself in a small band with some friends. They don’t write music, but they play favorite songs, and occasionally perform at the school I work at, for teacher functions. So the perfect cake for him was a guitar cake.

My biggest challenge was keeping the secret from him. Since we live in the same house, and I can’t exactly bake and decorate a cake in my room, it was quite tricky. Luckily, he was rehearsing with friends the afternoon before his birthday, and so quite tired when he got home, so he went to bed early. Since I had been on a baking frenzy the whole week with things, it wasn’t odd for him to see me bake yet another cake.

The guitar I chose as my model is this one:

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So, I started with a 13″x9″ chocolate cake, which I cut into a basic guitar belly shape. I decided I would make the neck out of cardboard and paint it accordingly, as I didn’t have the time or the resources to make it out of anything else and support it properly.

I used store-bought rolled fondant, and colored it a basic orange. I covered the cake and tucked in the ends, then got out my newly purchased palette, and proceeded to paint in the reddish gradient. A simple vodka-edible food coloring powder mixture was fine. For the shiny edging, I added a drop of light corn syrup to the mixture – I find it makes the paint sticky and shiny. The only downside is that it stays that way, it doesn’t completely dry.

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Once all of this was underway and in various states of drying, I pulled out my cardboard and acrylic paints, and painted the handle. Because I didn’t trust my fine painting skills, I actually used white writing icing to make the scales and writing on the neck of the guitar.

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Then his big day finally came. Something needs to be said about that: Dad doesn’t like to celebrate his birthday. Never has and never will. So I kept things simple – I just invited my grandpa over for dinner, and made sure my brother was in attendance. We just had a simple quiche and salad, nothing fancy, and certainly nothing to arouse his suspicions (although they were kind of, because, well it was his birthday after all). So I guess you could say he was only half-surprised when I trotted out with his cake:

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The only, very cringe-worthy, eye-catching ‘disaster’ is the guitar strings. Between making dinner and finishing the guitar in secret, I panicked a bit with the strings (in fact, I had forgotten about them until I put the two guitar pieces together). So I went down in the sewing box, found some wire thread and pins, and voilĂ . So the guitar is quite an untuned one, but it served it’s purpose, and Dad loved it. The guitar neck is pinned to the cake with some pins, and supported by a block of styrofoam near the top.

And just for a comparison, here is the model and the cake side by side:

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Thank you for reading; and until next time!