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Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Disastrous Adventures of the Hot Air Balloon Cake

I talked in my Valentine Ninja Cookies post about how Kelly Ripa feels like she can do anything if she watches it on TV....I'm sooo the same when it comes to creating stuff.  Yes, stuff.  Usually it's making things for the kids, or sewing.   This time it was THE HOT AIR BALLOON CAKE.  Cue sinister music....dun dun DUN.  

A friend asked me to make a cake for a baby shower, and wanted this hot air balloon cake made by Jessicakes.  Gorgeous, right?  She even has somewhat of a tutorial on her blog on how she made it.  So I'm all..."sure, I can do that!".   This cake is made up of (6) 6" round cakes and (3) 4" round cakes stacked on top:

So I got to baking.  All is well!  Cakes turn out perfectly, assembly is pretty easy.  I supported the cake with a cardboard cake board after the 3rd 6" cake, and then again under the 4" cakes.  (I ended up using (5) 6" cakes.  I think my cakes baked thicker than Jessicakes).  I also used bamboo skewers in multiple locations on each level to keep this tall cake sturdy, making sure I had one going through the entire center.

Look, level!

And because the cakes were thicker, this thing was taaaaallllll..........(look at all that MESS!)

So here it is.  Crumb coated, just about perfectly level.

On to modeling chocolate! This was fun.  I'd never used it before, but it's just chocolate candy melts mixed with corn syrup, and kneaded into a Play-Doh type consistency.  It rolled out beautifully, and I got this handy tool to help me cut out the shapes and run decorative lines on them.  I used a bit of icing to adhere the sugar pearls.  

I wasn't about to attempt that striped border, so I used solid blue in the same shape to give it the same effect.

The morning of the bridal shower, I adhered the chocolate pieces and added the topper.  I'm pretty happy with this cake at this point.  Looks pretty close to the original, yay!  Hmm.  It's leaning just a tad to the right, but that's ok.  Nobody's perfect.

From the back, not bad!  I get a call from my friend that she is on her way to pick it up.  Cool.  I think she'll like it!

My children had spent the night at my parents' house the night before, and my dear husband went to go get them so I had the house to myself.  I went ahead and sat down with a cup of coffee.  Sigh.  A nice reward after hard work. 

And then. 

I went upstairs for something and noticed the cake was leaning a bit more, I think? Maybe it was leaning before? wasn't leaning that much, was it?

Oh no! Oh my gosh! Someone help me! 

I get to the cake just as it TOTALLY falls over.  So here I am, by myself in the house, holding this cake with two hands.  The platter it's on is sliding all over the counter top, and I'm just frozen, trying to figure out what to do...trying not to cry or laugh hysterically.  I wish I had this on video.  

Carefully I transfer my hands so I'm holding it with one hand, and quickly take off all of the chocolate decorations.   I grab a plate, and in the fastest motion you've ever seen me move, I picked up the top blue part, stuck it on the plate and caught the cake again.  I separated the white cake at the cake board and put it on plates too.  

Did I mention that my friend is almost at the house to pick up the cake?  Holy panic.  What do I do?  The only think I could think of was to run to Publix and buy a sheet cake.  But they didn't have a plain one, so I got one with pink roses on it.  They were NOT easy to get off of the cake, and I realized I needed to put a layer of icing on top of this cake.  But of COURSE I don't have all the ingredients for another batch of icing. so back to the store I go.  (nerves.panic.hysteria)

And then, the icing I made would NOT stick to the Publix icing.  Finally I got it to smooth out just enough, added my decorations back on it, and Voila! New hot air balloon cake.  Definitely not as awesome as the original cake, but passable.  In a panic, in a pinch, it turned out ok in the end. 

I don't have a lot of pictures of the disaster, but here's a shot of the remains of the white part of the cake in the background:

I was able to salvage the blue part of the cake, and added a small hot air balloon to it.  The cake table was really pretty.  What a huge relief that it turned out ok.  I think my cake was not dense enough to stack that high, that narrow, etc.  Note to self, don't make this cake again.  I delivered the cake to the baby shower, came home, resumed my spot on the couch, but this time I had a beer.  Sigh.

I ended up salvaging part of the white cake as well.  I put the remaining hot air balloons on it, made a new topper and brought it to welcome my in-laws to Tennessee.  They just moved here, yay!  (Drake wrote "Love Drake Violet" on the bottom banner)

So I have to resign myself to the fact that I actually CAN'T do everything.  Remind me that next time, mmmkay?


  1. Thanks for sharing Aimee! So sorry the cake crashed, but what you came up with in the end was really cute too.

  2. Hey Aimee. Came across your blog. I know this is an old post but it made me laugh - but the cake did look great. Been forever. Hope all is well. Your old friend, Ben Bianchi, NY.

  3. Hi Ben! So great to hear from you! I need to get back to the blog, it's been a while. Hope you are doing well too!

  4. Oh dear, it was amazing! Just to get you back into the I can do anything mindset I want to tell you the secret of keeping them upright. You trim the tops of each cake down to the area that they are completely straight on their sides. You then take wooden dowel rod and cut them the exact height of each level between the boards. Make sure that the ends are cut to 90° and completely flat and that each level's dowels are exactly the same height. Make sure that the center 1/2 of the cake has the dowels and the cake is centered.

    I know this is an old post but your cake was really good and you should consider trying again!