Hi everybody! (All three people reading this- Charlotte, Byrne and hopefully Helen, our very first follower/commenter! Hi Helen!)
A magazine came in the mail a few weeks ago. Something completely random that I did not subscribe to. Normally it would make its journey to the recycling bin rather quickly. However, it was not immediately tossed because the watermelon shaped cake on the cover was simply too cute to throw out. Turns out the magazine, Woman's Day, is having a July 4th themed cake contest. Send in your coolest cake and win $150 worth of baking supplies, that is, if you have the best cake. So, I told Charlotte and we immediately began brainstorming. The first plan was a Liberty Bell shaped cake. While mulling this over in the hot tub, it was decided that a Liberty Bell was not a champion.
Our brilliant friend, Madison, came up with the fabulous idea to make a cake shaped like a picnic table. Now this, we loved. For weeks we planned and sketched and made shopping lists (okay, maybe just for a few days), and as soon as school ended for summer vacation, we were off to work on our masterpiece. So, I'll admit it, we used cake mix. I know you are thinking that we are terrible bakers. We used Pillsbury dough last time and Betty Crocker cake mix this time! But next time we will put something real up. For our first recipe, we were just lazy. Here, we decided it would be faster and more convenient, especially considering it was the decorating that was the real challenge. The taste of the cake really didn't matter.
The whole set up required four 9 x 13 cakes, but we ended up with tons of extra scraps. Two were used for the table, one for the benches and one for the "food" on top of the cake. I've seen tons of recipes for "cake balls" which use up the extra pieces, but we were completely exhausted after finishing this up and disposing of the scraps seemed like a better idea. Maybe another time.
Charlotte works on getting the cake out of the pan.
Unfortunately, none of our four cakes came out perfect. Frosting to the rescue!
The base of our picnic table. We stacked two 9 x 13 cakes, frosted them both and draped them in a fondant tablecloth.
Byrne and Madison knead fondant for the cooler and picnic table.
The tablecloth took forever, but Madison did a beautiful job!
After having some trouble with the blue fondant sticking to the table, we were all terrified that the tablecloth would not come up. It was a huge relief to have it safely placed on the cake.
The corn on the cob was made from a small rectangle of extra cake. It was frosted with white icing that had been tinted yellow. The kernels are jelly beans in different shades of white and yellow, cut in half. The butter is a teeny square of white melting candy wafers. To finish it off, the cobs were pricked with corn holders and sprinkled with sanding sugar to look like salt.
A semi-circle of extra cake was cut in order to make a wedge of watermelon. We laid a pink circle of fondant over the cake and adhered it with frosting. Then, we dyed frosting green and microwaved it for about 30 seconds so that it was easier to use as the rind. The slice of cake was dipped into the liquidy frosting. We allowed it to set in the freezer for a few minutes before wetting the fondant and carefully placing several black nonpareils on it to act as seeds.
What 4th of July picnic is complete without a flag cake made with blueberries and strawberries? Our mini version is really just a smaller rectangle of cake, frosted with white icing and decorated with smaller blueberries and strips of strawberries.
The burgers are really Thin Mints, citrus gummies, and cornflakes glued together with icing and sandwiched by two Nilla wafers. We shook the cornflakes with melted green frosting in a plastic baggie until they were all coated. Then, they cooled in the fridge for 15 minutes. The result looked just like lettuce!
We had many failed attempts at the pie. Originally we planned to use a cupcake as the base, but it was decided that it was silly to make just one cupcake. It would be easier to use extra cake. Byrne made the first one and minutes later Charlotte was rinsing the frosting off of each individual M&M in order to try again. She spent the next 30 minutes cutting out circles of cake and icing them, only to fail miserably time after time. Finally, she came up with a pretty decent pie! The base is a circle of cake, cut with a cookie cutter and then cut horizontally to be flatter. It is wrapped in aluminum foil. Red M&M act as the berries and thin strips of tan icing were piped to look like the lattice pattern often found on the top of pies.
Here are our "halfway point" and "finished" pictures of the cooler. It was pieced together using strips of cake and melting wafers. Then, it was covered in blue fondant. The cavity was filled with rock candy and those little wax bottles full of syrupy "soda". A piece of licorice was used for the handle and it was attached with some extra frosting.
That's it for the embellishments. The benches were plain old rectangles of cake, no frosting or anything. We thought it looked better that way than it would have if we attempted to make them look like wood. When it was finished, the cake looked absolutely incredible!