Apparently Paul is the consummate Red Sox fan. His sister Nora told me as little kids, the highlight of their summer would be to go to Fenway Park to watch a game with their dad. Since then, Paul just loves the game and the team and thought a Red Sox cake would be perfect for his big 50th birthday celebration. Originally she had asked me if I could do a red Red Sox jersey with a "50" on it; but after some discussion, she gave me free reign to do whatever I wanted as long as it conveyed a Red Sox theme. :)
Here are a few things that I learned while making this cake:
1. Delivering the cake to the customer is my favorite part. Nora's family had their entire house decorated in a baseball theme. Everyone was wearing the most delightful homemade costumes; even the dog had on a Boston Red Sox shirt! But the best part for me was watching the reaction on everyone's face as I came through the door. I actually got a bit teary eyed! It just felt really special to be a part of such a big celebration, to know my little cake will live on in pictures and memories long after it's been consumed. 2. White chocolate candy-melts can be melted and used as a paint-like medium. On the pennants and jersey, after struggling to cut out the little letters of fondant to no avail, I decided it would be easier to just paint the lettering directly onto the surface. I had anticipated this and had bought triple-zero sized paint brushes just in case. I had to add a little shortening to the chocolate, but the candy-melts worked out okay. I wished they would have set up a bit more smooth, but considering the alternative, it worked great. Next time I think I'll try white food coloring gel instead.3. Making royal blue fondant takes a lot of work. It took me about an hour to get a pound of fondant to go from white to dark blue. I eventually used black fondant to make a dark gray and then added the royal blue food coloring gel to that to get a very dark blue color. Does anyone know of a better way?
4. I truly enjoy doing detail work. I spent hours working on the various symbols, banners, and logos for this cake. I would sit at my kitchen table late at night, listening to Radio Paradise (best radio station EVER), with a palette of fondant, an Exact-o knife and cutting mat, a few print-outs of the images I want to make, and just go to town. I get lost in the details of most things in life so this really isn't a surprise. But when it comes to cakes like this, it's the details that really make it special and unique.
5. Always plan for two hours more time than I think I'll need. Even though I got up early and worked late on the cake the night before, I was still rushing to finish on time. So much so that one of the pennants I made ended up just sitting at the top, leaning against the flag poles. I had planned to add more details to the cake but just ran out of time. Everything always takes more time than I think it will.
6. I still have so much to learn! Covering a cake in fondant is not my forte. I need to take a class desperately. I know what you're thinking: the cake looks fine. But believe me when I say that I need lessons. It's so incredibly frustrating because I've read and watched (on the net and TV) people covering cakes with fondant and I think I'm doing everything they are. I'm not defeated though; I'll get there, eventually.
All in all, aside from the mistakes (I can't help but see them all), it was another successful delivery. And it was a vast improvement from my very first fondant covered cake, which just happened to be Red Sox themed too. :)