Vintage Bathing Beauty Birthday (part two)

Posted by Anne Yorks on Friday, July 8, 2011

FLOUR BOX BAKERY UPDATE: The stork is visiting Flour Box Bakery this summer. As a result, I am not currently accepting new orders. My baking schedule is booked through the summer until my due date. At this point I'll be updating my website so that it is clear that I'm taking time off.  I will continue to update my blog with my summer cookie projects. I hope you'll continue to follow my cookie adventures until I'm back to work! Thank you to all my wonderful customers - I look forward to baking for you when I return from my 'cookie-in-the-oven' leave!!

A few days ago, I shared the photos from a special birthday project I made for my mom. In case you missed it, here is a link to the the Vintage Bathing Beauty Birthday (part one) blog post.

Today's post will focus on the behind-the-scenes making of the cake and cookies!

I used my mom's favorite colors as the color scheme of the project.

Since I wanted a very specific cookie design, I had to make my own paper cookie stencil and hand-cut each of the bathing beauty cookies. 

I knew I needed a minimum number of cookies, but I made extras just in case of a mistake.

This project would have been a little more difficult if I didn't have a kopykake projector : ) I sketched my cookie design and then using the kopykake I piped my design on the cookie. Of course it would be impossible to do this without the kopykake, I just think the kopykake helps keep the  mess-ups to a minimum and keeps things consistent. 

I wanted a very sparkly bathing suit and cap, so I flooded the colored areas first and then generously covered it with disco dust.

Once those areas were dry, I went back and flooded the areas that did not have disco dust.

I added a few subtle details, but tried not to overdo it. I really thought the cookie design needed to be simple and uncluttered.

The seashell cookies were a little easier to make since I used cookie cutters. But I still used my kopyake for the 'Happy Birthday' cookies. 

I used the same icing colors as the bathing beauties. I flooded the background of the cookies and let them dry. Then I outlined the seashells.

I flooded them with white icing and added the disco dust. 

The cookies needed to dry again before I added the shell detail.

I'm a cookie maker. It's what I do day after day, week after week. But, making cakes intimidates me. And for my mom, I really wanted to make the PERFECT birthday cake. She LOVES lemon, so I found a great recipe on foodnetwork.com from Paula Deen for a delicious three-layer lemon-filled cake. Click here for the complete recipe.  I must be really slow, because the recipe estimated that it takes 1hour and 10 minutes to make the cake. It took me about an afternoon (this included set up time, mixing.baking, cooling time, and clean up). I think you would have to be a wizard to get it ALL done in just an hour and 10 minutes!

I made the lemon curd filling first. I wanted to let it cool completely before assembling the cake.

I don't have a double broiler, so I improvised with a glass bowl over my saucepan. This is easy to do and I had leftovers for my English muffins all week. YUM!

Next I made the cake batter, baked the layers, and let them cool. I used a standard buttercream icing recipe instead of the recommended boiled icing. My mom loves buttercream!  I used blue, green and white food coloring to tint it seafoam green.

Assembling the layers made me a little nervous. The cake was a little delicate and crumbly.

I stacked the layers, putting the lemon curd between each one, and added the buttercream. I think I need a little practice making a smooth layer of buttercream. Practice makes perfect. I guess I need to make more cakes!

I piped royal icing on the back of the diver cookies and fixed two sticks to each cookie. The royal icing make a fantastic glue. 

I pressed each swimmer girl into the side of the cake. I didn't have a lot of leftover buttercream icing, so I did not add any icing to the backs of the cookies. I didn't have any problem with them slipping of sliding down, but a little extra icing 'glue' probably wouldn't have hurt either. Then I carefully inserted the divers into the top of the cake.

For the final touch, I piped a shell border around the swimmers. It was the perfect finishing touch since it looked a little like water waves.

And ta-da ... the project was finished!! 

Every time I do big baking project, I always learn something along the way. Here are a few lessons learned:

1. Make extra buttercream. I wished I would have doubled the recipe because I started to run out at the end. Boo. Never good. I didn't have time to make extra, so I just had to make do with what I had.

2. Smooth the edges of the cookies after hand-cutting. I didn't like the look of the jagged edges - they really became more noticeable after they were baked.

3. Attach the sticks to the cookies and let sit for several hours. I didn't allow enough time when placing the sticks on the back to when I was assembling the cake. Nothing broke, but it was definitely fragile.

4. Measure the sticks before assembling. I wished the third set of sticks would have been a little longer so that the third diver would have been popped up higher in the back.

5. Measure the estimated size of the cookies for the cake. I just guessed and it worked out ok, but I could have calculated it out a little better so that the cookies fit perfectly. 

6. No matter what things look like, they always taste good...so just relax and enjoy the process. 

Live and learn. Not bad for my first cake/cookie combo. : )

I hope you enjoyed the post! I have a few other special cookies projects to share...lots of special birthdays this summer!

Have a sweet weekend,