I often cooked sweets with my grandmothers as a child—pull taffy, baked custard, fudge, cakes, cookies—but I wouldn’t call myself any kind of expert on baking or cake decoration. So when I was tasked with making cakes for two birthday parties this weekend, I was not sure what would result.
I do usually bake cupcakes for July 4th every year. They’re always chocolate with vanilla icing, decorated with red and blue sprinkles or candies. Pretty simple… Slap a little icing on each one, sprinkle liberally with something like mini M&Ms in patriotic colors.
My friend’s girlfriend planned a loosely themed Formula 1 party for his 40th birthday. We were to dine at a French restaurant called Pit Stop, then to a bar for drinks and cake. And guess who got to make that cake?
A race track cake seemed the way to go, a car seemed way too complicated. I looked at some track pictures, found some cakes online, and eventually decided the easiest thing to do was a curve of track with some cars on it.
I got everything together and baked the cake itself the night before, then started decorating it a few hours before the party.
First I wanted black icing, so I tried to create it from my chocolate. I added tons of blue food coloring, a little red, and stirred, added more, stirred… I came out with an icky shade of grayish brownish something that ended up still looking like chocolate. I remembered this would be served in a dimly lit bar and decided it would do.
I drew a guide on the pan and cake and iced my track.
Several minutes of shaking with green food coloring in a ziplock turned my coconut into nice, green grass.
I used Strawberry Creme Savers to line the track, rather than ice teeny red and white stripes.
It was a little difficult to find appropriate cars to use. Nothing I saw were exactly like Formula 1 cars, but Hot Wheels had a couple to fit my needs (the “Preying Menace” and the “Tire Fryer”).
The birthday boy seemed to like it!
The second cake had a rather different theme. This one was for a birthday/surgery. My friend is having knee surgery soon to repair or remove the medial meniscus in his right knee. He requested a “Farewell Meniscus” cake, and I got the job.
I baked the cake in an angel food pan, then cut it in half and pieced together to mimic the disk of cartilage it was meant to represent.
A little emergency reconstruction was involved in the center, but icing can fix anything. (Too bad that won’t work on the real thing!)
I’d picked up a toy syringe and reflex hammer when I got the cars, and those worked nicely into the meniscus. He’d wanted surgical tools, but I did what I could.
Some “blood” rounded it out. I tried to make it a little gross without being too icky.
“Bye Meniscus!” all lit up…