October 13, 2012

Lessons from my first three-tier cake ever

I've made quite a lot of cakes, cupcakes, and small double-tiered cakes, but today was the first time that I got to deliver (I started making the cake since the beginning of the week) a three-tier full fondant cake that I made on my own (but I did get help from my sister and my friend Arnie). I was nervous and skeptical to take  on the project at first, but then I realized that I'd never know how it is to make a three-tier cake if I don't try it. I drew strength from this quote by Theodore Roosevelt:

"When you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it."
Anyway, here's how it turned out.

This cake is for a 29-year-old guy who's an architect, a photographer, and a dancer. The bottom tier is supposed to represent the architecture tier. It's covered with edible floor plans and surrounded by T-squares, a pencil, and the guy's favorite structures such as the Eiffel tower, the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Sphinx, and the Roman Colosseum. The second tier is the photography tier, showcasing his best photos on a film strip. I had to feature Mr. and Mrs. Smith, his Canon EOS7d and EOS600d DSLR cameras. The top tier is the dance tier. I had his name in edible graffiti font on the brick wall with breakdancing silhouettes all around the tier. I also had to make a breakdancing figure of the birthday boy.

Here are the lessons that I learned from making this cake.

My cake tiers were too big.The base at 14 inches was okay, but I should have made the middle tier 8 inches so that I have ample space to put things around. The top tier should've been 6 inches for the same reason.  Maybe I should've made the figures smaller (in fact, the photography tier is supposed to be at the base of the cake, but I had to move it up because Eiffel Tower and the other structures wouldn't fit in the space), but I think that if I made them smaller, they would be barely noticeable on the cake. 

Don't use water in sticking edible paper to fondant.
Well, no one told me that the material was going to crinkle up! I discovered it after putting a dab on the back of one of the photos! That's when I realized that it was actually rice paper, and it would be sensitive to water. So I got my tub of shortening and slathered a lot of it on the back. The pictures stuck pretty well. I also placed some shortening over the pictures to protect them from moisture.

Dowel, dowel, dowel.
My cake didn't fail in this area because I placed a lot of support inside the bottom and middle tiers. 

This was a fatal mistake that I made. I usually prefer to make my fondant a day ahead so that they could rest well and so that the additional two tablespoons of tylose powder that I add to the mixture could properly work its magic. However, due to time constraints, I made two batches of fondant and used them to cover the cakes less than 30 minutes after. Bad idea! They were too soft, and they tore easily. 

Let the fondant rest for sometime before using it to cover your cakes.
Giant projects require ample amount of time and effort for preparation. No matter how much you prepare, something will always go wrong. Therefore, it is better to set your personal deadline way ahead the time your customer wants the cake to be delivered so that you'll have time to take a deep breath and work out the minor or major kinks that will arise.

Time management and planning is key.I should really learn how to sketch. 
Now, I've mentioned this before. I don't know how to sketch or draw! Let me show you the original sketch that I had for this cake. It was pretty awful.
It's actually a very funny looking sketch, and it looks nothing like the original thing. 

I still need to improve on a lot of things, but I am very happy that I accomplished this. Yehey!


  1. Hi Khyria! Fellow member of BCD here :) Great cake! There's so much detail, I can imagine how much time you spent making this - Congrats! I haven't tried making a multi-tier cake, I think your post is inspiring :)


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