Before the holidays I ran across a charity called Free Cakes for Kids which provides birthday cakes for kids in need. I looked through their website and found that there was no requirement to be a professional baker or work out of a commercial kitchen so I thought that would be the perfect way for me to practice my cake decorating skills and give back at the same time. I emailed the director and received an application. I sent in my application a few days before Christmas, and I was super excited when I got an email back with volunteer information. Immediately I looked through the list of current cake requests to find one or two that would fit my schedule, my skills, and that sounded like fun. Since I was going to off from work today (and Daniel had to work) I thought it would be a good day to deliver my first cake.
The cake I picked was for a girl turning 18 who wanted a giraffe theme. I didn't really know what to do for it. I thought about trying to sculpt a giraffe, but I was afraid that would be a little too cutesy for an 18 year old. I found a picture online of one with a giraffe pattern and big bow (the Wilton style ones) and thought I could do something similar though I prefer the look of the simpler bows.
The cake itself was pretty simple. The request was for a vanilla cake. I went with another recipe from Tish Boyle's The Cake Book - the Basic Golden Cake Layers. And, I just used vanilla buttercream. I made the cake ahead of time and froze the layers. This seems to help me time-wise and helps firm up the cake prior to frosting it so I don't end up with crumbs in the icing. Then last night I iced the cake and stuck it in the fridge, and then I stayed up late coloring all of the fondant and getting the cake board covered with fondant so it could dry.
First thing I did today was put ribbon around the edge of the cake board. That is such a simple thing that really makes a huge difference in how the cake looks. Then I pulled out the fondant to cover the cake, and I realized the base color looked too pink so I added a bit of yellow and darker brown in hopes that I could fix the color. I think it turned out okay. I also think I'm getting better at covering cakes with fondant because I was much happier with how smooth it looked, and it went much quicker than previous cakes I've done. The next part of adding the pattern is what really challenged me. I have a very logical mind so trying to do something that's artistic rather than just following some method or example is difficult for me, but once all of the pieces were in place on the cake I was really happy with how it turned out. Next up was the bow which is a very methodical thing so I didn't have any major problems there, and this one was much easier than the one I made for my mom since I didn't have to worry about placing a strip of black on the edge of the ribbon. Since, I had placed the cake on a cake board that was a little bigger than the cake itself I hid it with a teal boarder which I think ties the whole thing together nicely. I wrote happy birthday and added a little tag with her age (which was also done on the original cake I found).
I was really happy with how this first cake turned out. I got lots of nice comments when I delivered it, and I really hope the birthday girl enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to making lots of cakes for this group. My favorite part of baking is getting to share with others, and giving a cake to someone who wouldn't otherwise receive one is the best way to share this.