My friend’s grandmother has reached a HUGE milestone — 90 years! This was her two years ago — is she not beautiful? I cannot imagine being 90 years young! My friend and her mom wanted to surprise her with a special cake, something simple and elegant. Her grandmom is a fan of the card game of bridge, so that was one of our starting points. My friend’s thought was that we could incorporate a hand of cards. Our challenge was to incorporate cards while keeping things elegant and simple. I also knew she wanted chocolate and vanilla cake, whipped cream, and walnuts.
As always, I made a quick sketch of the order. This would guide me later and help me not forget anything. My friend approved!
I started Googling about bridge; and, my friends, sometimes Google is not the answer! So I turned to Facebook. Someone always knows something or knows someone who is an expert, and they didn’t fail! My friend Jana knows a man who is an enthusiast. She messaged him and he gave two suggestions.
In bridge you get 13 cards. That’s a lot! I ordered cards from an authorized Etsy dealer of edible images. I have had good experiences, but this time was mixed. He just didn’t seem to know what I wanted. At first he sent me a HUGE hand of cards. He completely misunderstood me.
Then he didn’t give me a refund, but said if I wanted to start over, I would have to order another set. What I wanted small individual cards that I could arrange myself. I paid for the extra set because I wanted the cake to be just what she wanted.The second go around, he finally got it right — almost. He forgot a card. D’oh! So I had to make it myself.
MAKING THE CARDS
To make the cards, the first thing I did was mix some fondant with Tylose powder. I use LMF fondant.
Next, I cut out my cards with my X-Acto knife, wet them, and applied them to the fondant. Then I let them set up for a few minutes.
After that, I cut them out with my X-Acto knife.
Then I played around with their arrangement, in the proper order, of course.
Using simply water, I stuck them together. I used another piece of fondant in a thin rectange shape to reinforce them. Then I stuck in my toothpicks in the thick parts.
To make the “90”, I went to Microsoft Word, as usual. I printed out a huge 90 in one of my favorite fonts, Bernard MT Condensed. I make a guide by poking through my paper with a pin, then I take off the paper and use my X-Acto to cut out the number. I start with the holes first so that they don’t warp.
BAKING THE CAKE
For this cake, they wanted chocolate and vanilla. I used my favorite Hershey’s chocolate cake recipe and a yellow cake recipe by America’s Test Kitchen.
We had originally agreed with doing whipped cream frosting, but with the temperatures being in the 90s (it’s July), and it being very humid, I decided that was not a good idea. I asked a friend who is a trained pastry chef, and she agreed. So we changed plans to my vanilla buttercream.
And for the buttercream, I used Toba Garrett’s fabulous recipe, as usual. I didn’t use meringue powder this time because I haven’t been digging the taste lately. And it does something weird to my buttercream.
I trimmed down my 8″ board.
For the filling, I made a nice dam and filled with about a cup of buttercream. And repeated with each layer.
Then I slathered on a bunch of buttercream.
I smoothed it with my metal Ateco cake smoother and popped it into the fridge.
To attach my cake to my cake board (which I covered in black fondant a few days before), I made a batch of stiff royal icing.
I applied and smoothed on more buttercream to get it perfectly smooth and nicely covered. Then, I got out my walnuts for the lower edge.
I slathered on a thin layer of buttercream about 2 inches high from the bottom.
And this part was hard than expected. I had to try to apply the walnuts to the cake. I tipped the cake a bit and tried it that way, which helped. I have watched videos of people doing this and knew it would make a huge mess. And it definitely didn’t disappoint! The walnuts made my fondant weird and sort of oily, so I had to wipe it off with a clean, moist paper towel and hope that it looked okay.
Next, it was ganache time! I made WAY TOO MUCH ganache. I used about 16 ounces of heavy cream and 16 ounces of Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips.I heated my heavy cream until it was JUST about boiling, poured it over my chocolate chips, swirled it, then covered it for five minutes.
After five minutes had passed (set a timer!), I whipped it together by hand with a wire whisk. Then more waiting: I put on the timer for 15 minutes.
Next it was time for the drip part. By some act of God, I had just seen on Instagram someone making a drip cake in a special way that I had never thought of! Using a small number 3 tip, which is just an open tip for letter writing, the artist made the drips down the side. They did this as opposed to pouring it on and letting the drips fall as they may.
After going around the entire cake twice, I then filled in the middle. I tried to make it nice and thick, because ganache is just delicious! Then I added my Tappit letters and my ribbon. I didn’t realize while I was doing it, but I started the ribbon on the RIGHT side of the cake. Ugh! I know I could have left it, but I wanted it to be perfect, so I put on a second layer of ribbon to hide the seam.
ADDING THE TOPPERS
I texted my friend this picture and a picture of the cards next to the 90. We agreed that the 90 in front of the cards would look better. It kind of obscured the cards, but just looked so much better. I know, I know, after all that work and frustration with Etsy. Oh, well! All that mattered was that it was a perfect hand. Surely someone might notice.
I had to reinforce the 90 with a little hot glue because the sticks came out (it wasn’t going to be eaten!), and I was done!
The next day when the lighting was good, I took my picture! I tried it from every angle, then I found this crooked angle by accident and was quite happy with it.
I love to end these posts with a picture of the celebration if I can, and here she is! Isn’t she wonderful?? They loved the cake and it had rave reviews from the guests and from the staff at the restaurant. Not much more I can ask for than that!
Any questions? Please leave it in the comments. See you next time!