Today I want to share Bobby's 80th Birthday cake with you! His daughter-in-law Andrea contacted me about doing this cake for his surprise party and I was really excited to do this for them! Bobby is a retired teacher, and Andrea really wanted to incorporate that into the cake, along with real life photos from throughout his life.
After running some ideas (pictures) by her, my vision for the cake started coming together! She really wanted the cake to have the "WOW" factor and be super special!!
First, we decided to do square tiers and focus on brown and white. I wasn't sure how the pictures (printed edible images) would show up on a brown background, so I knew I would have white as the primary color with brown as a secondary.
Then I saw a square cake that had paneled fondant and I knew that's the direction I wanted to go. So, I baked 6", 8" and 10" squares.
After filling and frosting them (flavors are listed below) I covered the tops of each tier with dark chocolate brown fondant. Then I measured and cut white rectangle panels of homemade marshmallow fondant to fit the sides of the cake... leaving them about a half an inch taller than the sides of the cake so they would stand up above the edges!
I spritzed the buttercream underneath to help the panels attach onto the cake, then I used a tiny bit of sugar glue at each seam to help them stick together.
Then I set out to lay out the pictures and come up with elements that fit in with the teacher them. I made a list of pencils, eraser, chalk, chalk board, numbers, letters, ruler, etc. I didn't think ahead to ask what exactly Bobby had taught in school (duh!), so I tried to keep the ideas generic - things that would fit with almost any teacher!
My friend Kristen gave me the idea to do the chalkboard topper with "Happy Birthday Bobby" on it... and I thought it was a brilliant idea!
I used my white food marker and wrote the words on the "chalkboard". I had made it by adding tylose to black fondant, rolling it out and cutting out a rectangle. I let it dry over night so it would be sturdy enough to stand.
Then I made the little pieces of chalk and the eraser. I used some tylose for the chalk dust and I have to tell you a secret... those little pieces might have been my most favorite things on the cake! Shhhh!
Well... those and the paper. I loved the notebook paper too. It was just rolled out gum paste and I used a ruler and food markers to do the lines... I really had so much fun making all these little bits and pieces!
I haven't mentioned this before... but this is the cake I was working on when our power went out for several hours one afternoon. It was raining and cloudy and very "dark" outside and well... I sort of went into panic mode - super worried I wouldn't finish it by the promised delivery time.
got super stressed started really freaking out, my hubby stepped in (as he always does) and helped me out. We moved a table into our living room in front of our big window (my kitchen is really dark without electricity) and set up all of my tools, turntable, cake etc. in the brightest spot we could find (which still didn't qualify as "bright").
He also got busy helping me make things... like all the stars and the pencils!! I'm not sure why my work was going so much slower, but man, things were taking way longer than usual to do.
One of the biggest things was having to work without a microwave to soften the fondant ... I had to knead small balls and warm them up with my hands just to get it pliable enough to work with! Oh, and no AC to keep things cool and dry. Heat and humidity and cake don't really go well together!
Anyway - so Richy made the pencils you see on the cake... and he cut out and glued together many of the stars on wires (see how to do those here).
And most importantly, he kept me calm while working in the mostly dark house and worrying sick that the heat was going to cause the cake to start to sag and fall apart.
Did I mention it gets to be about a zillion degrees in June in Mississippi and the humidity is sky-high as well! Yeah well... it all worked out in the end, but I was one frazzled caker there for awhile!
I used the Fox Run alphabet cutters to do the letters on the cake and all the stars were cut out with various star cutters that I have. For the board, I covered it in fondant strips that I also made to look like wood grain (just like the frame), then finished the board with ribbon.
For the top front tier of the cake, I included one of the younger pictures of Bobby along with an "80". Those numbers were cut with this Fox Run Numbers Cookie Cutters set.
I ended up having enough pictures and other fun things to cover the front and both sides of the cake. I didn't leave the back totally blank, but only put stars on it in random places.
For the flavors, the 6" tier was Italian Cream cake with cream cheese filling, the 8" tier was dark chocolate cake with chocolate chips and whipped ganache filling, and the bottom tier was white almond sour cream cake with vanilla buttercream. Yum, yum, and more yum!
And gosh... I think that's it! I could go on all day telling you all the tiny details, but that would lead to a very long post! So as usual...
If I missed anything, or you have any questions, please feel free to leave me a comment or question and I'll do my best to answer and help out! I love hearing from readers 🙂