dani’s cake portfolio



Filed under: animals,birthday,character — dani @ 12:00 pm

This cake was made for Nisha’s 7th birthday party on March 15, 2009.

Design We asked Nisha what she wanted for her birthday and with a serious air, she said she wanted a catfish cake.  I looked at her in disbelief.  Do you mean a cartoon one with a fish body and cat head?  No, she wanted a real catfish for her cake.  Even after looking at a photo of a real catfish that we emailed to her, she still insisted on a real catfish cake.  In all honesty, I was having a hard time getting excited and motivated to make an ugly, mud-colored bottom feeder and found myself procrastinating over this cake.  Luckily, the procrastination bided me a little time.  Apparently one day, in the car, Nisha looked at her sippy cup and noticed a fish with a cat head and decided it looked cute after all.  Whew!  I just know she wouldn’t have been satisfied with a real, slimy catfish cake.  I think the only person who would appreciate that would be my fisherman father!

This cake was a joint effort between Blake and I.  Usually Blake’s title is cake support, but for this cake he decided to do the entire cake from start to finish so as to experience first hand the effort that goes into designing and making a cake.  However, Blake found himself overwhelmed with work and I had to step in to help, but he still did most of it.  So once we had final direction on the theme, we decided on a fun, cartoon-ish design.  The catfish has an Alice in Wonderland Cheshire Cat head with a Dr. Seuss like fish body.  The base has a psychedelic underwater seaweed look.

Cake The usual chocolate blackout cake for the round base cake and pound cake for the catfish because it is firmer and easier to carve.

Filling Blake dreamed up a wonderfully creamy strawberry Italian meringue buttercream.  Initially we were going to use raspberries to get a bright pink hue, but they were out of raspberries at the market so he pureed frozen strawberries instead and added it to the buttercream.  It had a wonderfully light strawberry flavor that blended surprisingly well with the buttercream.  We’ll definitely use this recipe again.

Icing This round base cake has vanilla fondant over vanilla buttercream and the catfish head has decorator’s buttercream icing as it is stiffer for making fur.

Decoration It’s pretty clear that two people worked on this cake.  Blake made the catfish cake at the same time that I made the base cake.  We laughed when we realized that the styles didn’t quite match when we went to put the two cakes together.  I suppose it only enhances the psychedelic effect, right?

For the base cake, I free formed the stylized seaweed using a quilting roller and then hand painted them using bright colored luster dusts mixed with lemon extract.  We used a bunt pan to make the initial s-shape of the catfish body which Blake then carved down to make the final shape.  The fins were cut free form from gumpaste, scored with a pastry scraper and then positioned to dry in a wiggly pattern. Nisha’s mom, Poorti, and Blake made the wire fish that were inserted into the cake at the last minute.

Thanks Well, I can’t really thank Blake since he was mostly responsible for this cake.  Maybe he should be thanking me this time???  However, we can thank Poorti for coming over to help make the wire fish and to keep us company late at night!