I continue to take cake decorating classes at Cake Creations Dessert Haven in Manoa. Here in my fifth month, the teachers offer a "Mad Hatter" cake class in which you learn how to make a crooked cake. It also goes by the names topsy-turvy cake, whimsical cake, titled cake, or slanted cake.
Up until now, we've been going once a week for the entire month. However, to make and decorate a mad hatter cake takes an entire day, and it can't be done in parts. So, this class was a one day, roughly six-hour workshop, starting at 10 a.m. on a Sunday, and lasting until we finished.
As usual, teachers Lani Sonan and Lori Tamashiro provided the cake, but it was our task to learn to sculpt it. And like in every other class, we got to decorate it. We made a two tiered cake that served 50 people.
Lani, Di, Lori
I'm assuming I'm talking to other home-bakers; amateurs like me who will want to do this for the occasional children's party. If you aren't a pro, then I would allow for at least 60-90 minutes to scuplt both tiers of the cakes into their slanted positions; 60-90 minutes to crumb coat and buttercream frost; and 60-90 minutes to drape the fondant and add the decorations.
The bottom layer of this cake is two ten inch rounds. In the middle of those, we added a third cake which we cut diagonally, so that the cake slants. Each layer is filled with custard and the entire 2 1/2 layers are re-cut with a serrated knife so that it looks like one smooth, entire piece.
Cutting it all slanty on the sides and the top
Because cutting the cake makes it soft, we froze the cake for about 20 minutes to set it, before we even attempted to crumb coat it. If you use chocolate cake, that is even softer.
Having two layers works out well, because you end up staggering tasks. While the bottom layer was freezing, we worked on carving the top layer of six inch cakes, using the same process.
After the sculpting and frosting, we were ready to use fondant. We thought up our individual designs and decorated!
I'm still not totally clear on how large to roll out the fondant so that it covers the entire cake. And it's sort of a one-shot deal, so I get nervous. I also have a tendency to roll it too thin. I also have trouble with draping smaller cakes so that the bottom doesn't gather in ruffles.
What I do know is I am good about making a decision and sticking with it. I'm also not a perfectionist, so when I do get those ruffles, I only let myself fret a little, before moving on to the next step. I try not to get bogged down in details. In this manner, I'm able to get the cake done sooner.
I'm just passing this along as a point for consideration because when I left that day, Lori mentioned that she noticed that was my asset; that slow beginners often make the process slower for themselves by trying to make it perfect. "It won't be perfect. It's not even always perfect for us, and we do this for a living. We learn to work with and around our mistakes or cover it up," she confirmed.
Coloring my fondant
I'm actually not sure how much I want to work with fondant on my own, because it's so hot and humid in Hawaii that the material gets gummy and sweaty. There are too many rules to working with it in the tropics, and being an amateur, I think I want to just focus on doing a few things well.
Though, I appreciate knowing how to do it. I love the way it looks- so chic and smooth.
What I do think is fun is cutting out fondant flowers and shapes to paste to the cake. That, I don't mind doing at home, but adding it to a butter cream frosting cake. Different from the realism of gumpaste flowers, I like how fondant flowers are simple and cartoonish.
Joy Kamae-Shimizu at our table
After the tiers are covered in fondant and fully decorated, we then doweled the bottom layer, added the top layer, and then nailed both together for transport. I should mention that the pros actually assemble on site, to ensure that it doesn't fall apart over some pothole, but for personal use, it didn't matter to me if it ripped a bit. (It didn't, though.)
The cake came home to an excited reception, particularly from Olivia. She gasped. "Mommy, it's so beautiful!" she exclaimed, hugged it, then immediately nagged to eat it. For me, that was absolutely the best part of it all.
I love you, Cake Ladies!
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