The Tween Tsunami known as a slumber party swept through the house, leaving puddles of eye shadow, a defaced wall of posters of the no-longer-crushworthy Jonas Brothers, more unfamiliar socks than party guests, and one sleep-deprived but very happy birthday girl. Oh, and an exhausted mom who has already agreed to do it again soon. (Momnesia, we call this state.)
The highlight for me was showing my girl the promised Twilight Cake. She was speechless — I suspect she doubted my ability to pull this off, and honestly, that made two of us. (Some of you may recall that my two practice runs at the Twilight Birthday Cake ended in the Tectonic Plate Cake disaster and the Collapsing Chocolate Cake disaster. But I had the pressure of an Impending Slumber Party behind me, not to mention the lesson learned over and over – read the directions! While it was not as perfecto as some of the truly impressive Twilight Cakes out there, I think for my first actual cake and my first cake with any sort of decoration on it… Well, I impressed myself and, more importantly, the Twilight-obsessed party guests.
The Twilight Cake Details:
The cake was a yummy 9-inch chocolate layer cake, using a recipe from Baking Illustrated. I followed the directions. I even remembered the eggs.
We made a black fondant to cover it. I’d read that some of the fondant you buy ready-made doesn’t taste good and is meant to be peeled off like orange skin or cheese wax. Then I found a really helpful site with instructions on making marshmallow fondant. Fortunately we did this a couple of weeks ahead of time (Harriet did the sticky kneading) because we made black fondant and red fondant. (Warning: this stuff is really sticky. It helps to have a child on hand to do the kneading.) While the black fondant was (to me) edible and (to the girl) delicious, the red fondant tasted awful. Like run-to-the-sink-and-spit awful. Red food coloring, at least in the shade I selected for its bloodiness, tastes horrible. I later discovered that there is a red food coloring that has no taste, but we never got around to making another round of red fondant. The black fondant was perfect, though, and stayed in the fridge for two weeks.
For the decor, I used symbols from three of the four Twilight book jackets. (I have no idea if these things appear in the books. As I’ve previously confessed, as the not-always-so-involved-in-my-kid’s-interests-when-they-look-not-only-um-uninteresting-but-very-time-consuming mother that I am, I have not yet read any of these Vampire books, even though the girl devoured them.) So there’s an apple, pink and white flowers (those are candles and they are so freaking cute but nearly impossible to light) and a broken red ribbon. The ribbon went on first with store-bought red decorating icing. I did that first and thought for someone who can’t draw worth a lick that I’d done a damn good rendition of the torn ribbon from the book jacket.
By the time all the symbols got on board, there was no room for any writing. Just as well. I know from experience that I stink at writing on cake. (I have tried in the past with store-bought sheet cakes, and recall being offended when even pre-schoolers mocked my efforts.) I had downloaded a Twilight Font (I would give you the link, but I can’t reach the twilighters.org site today) and thought I’d try and make a stencil or something. But time ran out. (Have I mentioned the actual decorating occurred as the girls were loading up at our Taco Bar in the next room?) Besides, there really wasn’t a spare inch. And it didn’t matter – the cake was a success.
I did make a few mistakes that fortunately had no huge ramifications. You are supposed to use buttercream under the fondant. I knew that, I made buttercream and had it sitting there. But I forgot to put it on the cake top. I did buttercream the sides. Also, the fondant should go on smooth as glass (I think), and mine had lots of dings from me trying to park the top while I buttercreamed the sides. That didn’t matter a whit since the cake’s entire surface was covered by Twilight symbolism by the time it hit the dining room table.
Also, Saturday was warm and super sunny and the cake, wearing just its fondant, sat in my new thrift-shop cake holder on the kitchen table, safe from inquiring feline and canine noses but not from the sun’s glare. I lifted the lid to admire my black cake and discovered that the fondant was starting to melt, I guess, because while it still nicely covered the cake, there was a quarter-inch ring of black around the cake’s base. You’re not supposed to refrigerate a fondant-covered cake, so I put it, under the lid, in my chilly mudroom. All was well and no one but me noticed the cake had a little hat brim.
Next time (ha!) I would make chocolate buttercream or at least color the buttercream so I could put it between the layers. I gave myself an extra step by making chocolate frosting to cushion the layers. No reason the buttercream couldn’t do double-duty.
Oh – and finally — the cake was delicious. Rich, fudgy and really tasty. I’m not a marshmallow fan, so the frosting/fondant wasn’t my favorite, but the party guests ate it right along with the cake. Half the cake was left after dinner, and my plan was to take some nice photos of the cake interior on Sunday. Sunday morning I discovered an empty cake plate on the counter and several forks in the sink. No better review than that, I guess!