50th Anniversary Cake and Cupcakes

Baking date: October 9, 2015  This project was actually done over two weekends — I made some of the icing decorations the weekend before October 9.

I was approached by one of the sports moms I know, who asked if I would be interested in making a 50th anniversary cake for her in-laws. Her son has played baseball, basketball, and football with my oldest son, and her in-laws come to all the games. We know them well.

This would be my first “big” cake. They wanted one layer to be vanilla, one to be marble, and it should feed up to 100 people. The theme for the celebration included coppers, golds, and other fall colors.

I started with a Wilton square pan set, using the 12 and 16 inches sizes. (Note that these pans angle out and are not straight up and down on the sides. For the less casual baker, they may not be the best choice for stacking cakes.)

I used a french vanilla cake mix for the bottom layer (3 boxes) and a fudge marble cake mix for the top layer (2 boxes). When using a box mix, I add 1 tablespoon of vanilla per box to give it a more home made flavor.

I had never made icing roses before, so I watched a YouTube tutorial by Julia Usher on how to do it. While this video focuses on royal frosting, I used buttercream. Buttercream doesn’t seem as “sturdy” as royal icing, and I did have a few “whoops” as I made the roses:

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That’s the remnants of a rose on my pants

I made other buttercream decorations for the cake: leaves using a #67 tip in moss green, roses in burgundy using a #102 tip, a different rose style in copper using a #102 tip, and a swirl rose in golden yellow using a #31 tip.  Here’s a sampling of the flowers and leaves – this was my first attempt at all of these.

I made a buttercream frosting that I used for both the flowers and icing the cake. I left space on the top for the topper that had been purchased by the family.

Once the cake was iced, I added star bursts around the top layer bottom edge and the bottom layer bottom edge. In the middle of each burst, I placed a gold sugar pearl. I then added the burgundy roses around the top edge of the top layer of the cake, with 2 leaves on each corner rose. I alternated the copper and golden yellow flowers on the next tier.

I snapped a picture of the cake in my fridge and sent it to my friend, to give her a sneak peek:

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Here are some more photos of the cake:

This is how I set my pricing when I am asked to make a cake. I ask the requester to pay for the cost of  materials – in this case $40. I then tell them how much time it takes and tell them they can add on whatever they think is fair for my time.

I know this isn’t a traditional way to price work, but let me be clear. I have never taken a cake decorating class, so what you get looks nice but it is definitely not perfect. Also, decorating is an incredibly relaxing and therapeutic exercise for me. All the stress and worries of my job melt away — I am totally focused on what I am decorating and the enjoyment I get from it. What a nice escape! And finally — my paternal grandmother was an artist. She painted and sketched and I like to think that my baking/decorating is that creative gene living on in me. That brings me great happiness that no amount of money can.

As my gift to the couple (since I have known them about 4 years now) I made French vanilla cupcakes with a swirl of buttercream frosting, gold sugar pearls, and a free-hand candy melt heart design, which was dusted with edible gold pearl dust.

Here it is, put together on the dessert table at the party:

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And here are Judy and Alan cutting the cake:

Judy and Alan cut cake

Happy Anniversary Judy and Alan. Thanks to your family for thinking of me so I could be a small part of the celebration!

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