So, the engagement party cake and my sister’s birthday cake have been and gone. Those little King Charles Spaniels were pretty time-consuming! I did enjoy the challenge though. If you’ve any need to model a King Charles Spaniel out of fondant (who doesn’t?!), this video was a great help to me. Here’s a not so great photo of how mine worked out:
As I mentioned in my last post, I was a bit intimidated by being asked to make a cake in exchange for money. I had no idea what I should charge because, often, a lot of people don’t realise how much ingredients cost and how much time is consumed by fondant. In the end, I used Facebook to ask a couple of local cake businesses (The Bumblebee Bakery and Cake, Rattle and Roll) what they charge and attached a picture of the Guide Dog puppy cake to illustrate what would be involved. When I had decided on a price, I emailed the lady wanting the cake but I also said, if it was more than she was wanting to pay, I understood and wouldn’t be offended if she wanted to go down another route. I really didn’t want her to pay more than she was thinking of, because I know a lot of people don’t realise the price of specially made cakes. In the end, she was completely happy (I think!) with my quote, so I needn’t have worried. It is a difficult thing though, isn’t it? Pricing your cakes. You don’t want people to think you’re taking the proverbial, but also don’t want to work for peanuts!
Because I was also making my sister’s birthday cake for the same day, and I had settled on this glorious creation by Sweetapolita (my ABSOLUTE favourite baking blog so far), I decided to use the Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream for both cakes. This was a bit different for me as, so far, I’ve always used standard butter and icing sugar buttercream under fondant. However, I thought it would be easier to only have one buttercream, and also that a Victoria Sponge (as requested for the engagement cake) would be super scrummy with fresh Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMB)! In the end, it drove me slightly mad – it was much more squidgy and kept moving under the fondant. The answer to this is to let it chill in the fridge properly first before putting the fondant on, as SMB chills solid. Always learning!
So here is the finished article. (Apologies for the poor quality mobile phone pics.)
I was reasonably pleased with it. I had hoped the cakes might rise a little more, as I thought the cake could have been taller. Why is that? Same recipe/oven/ingredients for this and the Guide Dog cake, and the GD cake is considerably taller. Baking sometimes completely mystifies me. Anyway, I was quite proud of my little King Charles Spaniels and thought the bone on the front was effective.
I was incredibly nervous about the lady coming to collect the cake. Would she like it? Would she be disappointed? I was so nervous about it, that I couldn’t even look at her face when she came into the kitchen and saw it – I just looked at the cake! So I can’t tell you her first reaction. However, she seemed to like it and asked if she could recommend me to others. To this, I actually said, “Please don’t.” I’m not quite ready to become a professional cake baker! Hope she didn’t think me rude.
I heard from her again later that weekend, and her future daughter-in-law actually cried when she presented the cake to her! She said she loved it and couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. That was lovely to hear. I just hope she enjoyed eating it! That’s one of my pet hates with cakes. That you can’t check the quality of the cake. I’d be tempted to make two and have a slice of one – but that might be a bit excessive! I suppose confidence comes with practice too. (Does it?)
I don’t have a picture of my sister’s birthday cake yet, as it is on her camera. I will get it soon and let you see. I really was proud of that one, as it is more my style of cake, and I can say it was delicious as I got to have a bit! This weekend, I am baking another Sweetapolita cake: Raspberry Neopolitan Cake; and, one of my own invention, a Pink Grapefruit and Coconut Cake. I’m a little bashful about the reason why I am making these cakes. I’ll tell you next time, and let you see.