We're getting ready for BJ's 6th birthday party today (and I'll spare you my extensive, sentimental, astonished rant and instead just use a lot of caps to express that It JUST CAN'T BE POSSIBLE That This Son Of Mine Will Be Six Years Old). We're having the party at home with an Outer Space theme (naturally) and last night BJ and I made the cake. Not surprisingly, he had very specific notions about what the cake should look like. After nixing the idea of nine realistic representations of the planets, plus a sun, I considered my (rather limited) cake making skills and told him I thought I could do a rocket ship.
I played around with a paper template to see how I might carve a rectangular sheet cake to make a nose cone and fins (geometry is fun!) and once I had a plan we set to work. Of course while the cake was baking, he wanted to read The Magic Schoolbus Gets Baked In A Cake.
After the kids had gone to bed, the cake had cooled enough to start constructing. It was a nervewracking couple of hours, but I'm reasonably pleased with how it turned out.
I'm still getting used to our oven here at the apartment. It's a lot better than it was, now that we've gotten it more level, but it still cooks unevenly especially for things like baking a cake. I had to slice off a fair amount from the top to level it off -- but I was able to use that part cut down into a circle to make Jupiter.
For the rocketship fins, I used the triangles I'd cut from the top of the cake. I also had to slice off one edge to narrow the body of the rocket a little bit, and those pieces got used for the engine and the antenna. I made a cupcake for the window (where the 6 is).
I wish I hadn't done the antenna, actually. It ended up being the "weak link" in the design and was really hard to deal with. I used licorice ropes for the black lines, and though I'm pretty sure the kids won't really like the licorice, decoratively it was an especially good notion when I realized how difficult it was to use black icing for piping around the window -- I'm really, really glad I didn't try to get a bunch of straight lines in that black! Plus, it turns out that the black frosting is really not that tasty. I got some Wilton's coloring gel at Michaels and either this stuff is generally yucky in flavor or I used way too much in the attempt to get a good black color, because it is pretty bitter. But I mostly used that to cover the alumnium foil covered base on which the cakes are sitting, so that it would look good. Stars courtesy of Trader Joe's yogurt covered star cookies. All told, considering that I'm entirely self-taught at this cake decorating business, I'm fairly pleased with the results. I mostly applied the frosting with a knife -- felt like I was oil painting with cake icing, actually, especially when I did Jupiter with those swirls around the Great Red Spot (which I'm quite pleased with).
We have a ton of other things to do this morning to get ready, but it turns out I'll need to make another cake. It occurred to me (being my mother's daughter, always wanting to be sure we had enough food) that after cutting down the sheet cake it was unlikely we'd have enough cake left to serve all the kids and parents who will be here today. (10 kids plus 10 or more parents!) So this morning I'm making a basic yellow cake with yellow frosting, putting it in a circle pan and calling it the sun. Now so long as BJ doesn't start pestering me for the other 8 planets (which was his original idea, after all) we'll be fine...