Husband has a co-worker that asked for a cake for his 20th wedding anniversary. After some discussion, we decided on a vanilla cake, with strawberry filling and swiss meringue buttercream. The design was to be simple: heart shaped cake with red roses and a small message.
So, to work I went!
One Week Before Delivery: I made the royal icing roses. I made a half batch of royal icing and used 2 ounces of red-red Wilton coloring. Because I had used so much coloring, I had to add 1/2 cup of confectioner's sugar to stiffen the icing. For the roses, I used a Wilton #12 tip for the base of the roses, and a Wilton #59 degree tip (there's actually a little degree symbol on the tip) for the rose petals. Using the #59 tip creates what is called a Victorian Rose. Those are my favorite. The petal folds over and is just so pretty. For the rose buds I used the standard Wilton #104 tip.
Two Days before Delivery: I found out on Wednesday (cake was due on Friday) that on Thursday I was go to on an up-and-back business trip. It was truly awful, but I won't make you suffer through the details. What I ended up having to do was cram in when and how I was going to complete this cake. So two days before delivery, I baked the cakes and made the Swiss Meringue Buttercream.
To store the cakes, I wrapped them up tightly and stored them in the fridge. I contemplated freezing, but decided that they would do fine in the fridge for a day and a half.
Morning of Delivery: Thank goodness my customer was flexible because he agreed to pick up the cake in the afternoon. So I got up early, and went to work:
1) Leveled, filled, and stacked the cake. For the filling I used a low sugar jam, personally I think low sugar jams are fine even on your everyday PB&J, but on a cake it's probably even more appropriate considering all the other sugar in the cake and icing.
2) Crumb coat. I love crumb coats. I'm sure I've mentioned that before. I let the crumb coat set in the fridge for 30 minutes while I colored the green buttercream for the leaves on the cake...and got a snack.
3) Iced the cake.
4) Wrote on the cake. This part was tricky because I don't completely trust myself when it comes to writing, yet - I always seem to amaze myself whenever I give it a shot. Part of my prep work was to pick a font and a size for the writing that I thought would be appropriate for the size of the cake. I originally thought that I could pipe the writing in royal icing, let it harden, and then transfer, but the writing was too fragile and ended up shattering. So I ended up pricking the letters and laying it on the cake to get a guideline for the writing. I think it came out very well. And I think that next time I'll just measure out my margins and go for it (it's time to take the training wheels off).
5) Placed the flowers. I just piped some buttercream onto the bottom of the flowers and plopped those suckers onto the cake!
6) Greenery. The masterful finishing touch. I used a Wilton #3 tip for the vines and a Wilton #352 for the leaves. But wait, why didn't you use the standard leaf tip, Wilton #67? Well, that's because I hate it. I don't like that wrist flicking thing you have to do to get the leaf just right and I don't feel like I have the same kind of control I have with the poinsetta tip.
7) Boxed and delivered. I always put my finished cakes in fridge (if they fit. I made a 3/4 sheet cake once, there was no way my fridge would be able to swallow that). Each cake I make is like a baby to me - so I treat it as if any sudden move would ruin the thing, even though that's not true because they always turn out to be a little sturdy. However, delivery was successful, customer said many nice things about the cake which makes me happier than a dog on the dinner table at Thanksgiving.