This birthday cake and these cake truffles were for a special little girl's birthday party with safari animals as the theme. Since it was a summer pool party, it made sense to combine the two and have safari animals relaxing at the beach!
This was also a very special cake because it was our first two-layer cake with filling. We started with a 9" round butter cake for the bottom layer (cut horizontally in half) and coated the bottom half with vanilla pudding and sliced organic strawberries (yes - we washed, sliced, and chopped the green parts off of every strawberry), leaving a thin rim of cake around the filling.
A circle of ganache was then carefully squeezed around the circumference to keep the pudding and strawberries from sliding out. More pudding was smeared on top and the other half of the 9" cake (with the dome sliced off) easily adhered to the filling. The entire cake (top and sides) was then treated to a layer of ganache.
The next step was to cover the bottom layer with blue fondant to represent water, but of course, a monochromatic blue would have been much too simple (and not as interesting). My sister came up with a clever technique for a marblelized pond with circular white-caps (fit for a circular cake) to represent the ocean. Unfortunately, the marbled effect was diminished once the top layer of cake was placed on top, but in this picture, you can enjoy the effect to your heart's content! :)
Our idea for the top layer of the cake was to have an off-set island so safari animals could enjoy both the sand and the surrounding waters. (Our island might be the only island that tastes like carrot cake with cream cheese frosting.) The island was coated with graham cracker crumbs and sloped so the birthday girl's name could be carved into the beach. At first I thought it would be a cool idea to just draw the name into the "sand" just like on a real beach, but I quickly realized the name appeared indistinguishable and wouldn't be appreciated.
Spontaneous Plan B was to use white fondant and pearlize the letters with pink and white edible shimmer. Thankfully, everything worked out beautifully because the letters ended up looking as if they were made from abalone shells (and that wasn't even planned)!
Next came the whimsical task of decorating the island with fondant sculptures: two bronzed palm trees (it took three tries until the leaves wouldn't dry and crack off under their own weight), a tri-colored tropical bird (a mold was used for the bird), a bucket and shovel with a fish poking out (the shovel was the hardest to make because it was so small), a red hermit crab (a pre-made chocolate shell was used but I struggled to get the legs and angle of the body just so), a colorful beach towel to lay out on, and some pretty pink flowers to liven up the island and frame the name.
Having a 3-dimensional cake ususally makes an occassion feel that much more special, so instead of piping seaweed onto the side of the cake, each strip of seaweed was cut out of rolled fondant and attached with the blades turning in different directions for a flowing feel. Baby blue edible pearls representing bubbles gave the cake a touch of elegance, and coincidentally, tied in to the party's bubbleologist performance!
In order to accommodate 40+ guests, we made a fun collection of lemon, carrot cake, and chocolate cake truffles. My sister meticulously made the colorful beach balls putting strips of red, blue, and green fondant on top of a yellow-coated cake ball (by a twist of fate, there were safari animal beach balls at the party), and we also had each safari animal relax on his or her own lifesaver (we used gummy LifeSavers - convenient, huh?) and piece of glimmering ocean (blue sugar sprinkles). We also added some inner-tubers on the cake itself for fun!
Although it was tempting, we didn't want the beach theme to overshadow the safari theme, so on all the chocolate-covered cake truffles, we hand-cut leaves and veined them, curled them up on the cake balls to give more dimension, and propped one safari animal on top of each leaf. One particular monkey was a bit more mischeiveous than the rest and swung himself upside down (so we let my nephew eat him)! Also, in case you were wondering, we bought the safari animals (made of royal icing); sorry, we're not quite that good yet!
The final touch was a banner (the only inedible part of the cake) hung between the two palm trees declaring the happy day: "Happy Birthday!!!"
We surrounded the cake with colorful beach balls and inner-tubers and displayed the rest of the cake truffles on a 3-tier cake stand which turned out quite lovely. The party was fabulous and the cake turned out to be moist and delicious!
Happy Birthday Adelynn!!!
Note: This post is a bit late for July, but better late than never, right?