Sunday, November 13, 2011

Hot Air Balloon Cake - Up Up and Away!

I'm so happy to share this beautiful baby shower with you!! My sweet cousin, Ashley, is having her third baby, but first baby girl!! We are SO excited for her!! She is the most amazing woman!! She's ALL girl, yet puts on her boots and goes hunting with her husband! She took her two boys (2 and 4) deep into the forest, 7 months prego, until midnight, to help her husband and family haul in a HUGE buck! I wouldn't be caught dead doing that...let alone 7 months prego with two sweet boys! :) She ROCKS! She adores her husband, loves her kiddos, is up for anything, and is SUCH a blessing to all who know her!! Ashley...you inspire me! We love you loads!! :) This sweet baby girl is SO blessed to have a mama like you! - what an amazing example you already are to her!!

My INCREDIBLY talented sister in law, Kim Harris, designed this insanely cute invitation for her baby shower. Kim is an awesome graphic designer who chooses to stay home and be an amazing mommy! She OOOZES talent, and chooses to use it to bless others in the sweetest ways!! She designed this invitation...impressive isn't it!???!!!
And my other amazing cousin took all the pics. Jamie Zanotti rocks the camera! - Check out her site here. She also posted all the beautiful party pics on her blog...check out the full party here...the details are worth jumping over there for! - go, now! :) - and then come back and keep reading!!! :)

I was going to just make some cupcakes for the shower, but once I saw the invitation, I HAD to design a cake to go with the scenery!! I am so inspired by great design...and here's what I came up with...
The main change we made was putting the "banner" at the top of the cake. We wanted it to have the same graphics as all the other text instead of me hand writing it. Looking back, I think I would have just printed it on edible images and put it on the cake.

Other than that, I was super happy with how it turned out! It blended beautifully with Kim's table design. Check out some of these pics of the table and other decor she created/designed.
She made these using lanterns and covered them in paper - genius!!!!!
Here's some close ups of the cake...

You can find the template below for the stripes!
All the decorations were made with modeling chocolate. I'm a HUGE fan of it! :)

Here's the template I created. I designed this using my Autocad. I measured out the circumference and height of the cake, then made everything to scale so I could cut the pieces out and use them as templates. Planning has EVERYTHING to do with success. This way I was able to figure out how big/wide the stripes needed to be in order to go all the way around the cake...and look like they all blend. It worked beautifully!!!



If you want to know how to use the wax paper transfer technique it's all in my Craftsy Class!!  I show three different ways to use the technique.  You can read about the class HERE or jump over to Craftsy and take it HERE!! :)

I took these pics at home before Kim picked up the cake. Shows the whole cake just like the template.
Here's what's inside:
The bottom 6"x6" cake was 6 layers of chocolate cake with vanilla SMBC. I stacked/filled three layers of cake, then added some bubble straws and a board, then kept stacking the other three layers of cake to make a nice and sturdy cake.  The top tier was a 4"x4" rice crispy cake with chocolate ganache filling. I figured that'd be fun for those gluten-free friends! :) The crumb coat was dark chocolate ganache on both tiers. The fondant was marshmallow fondant mixed with a little modeling chocolate to give it some stability and add some yummy flavor. I actually wrapped the fondant on the bottom tier instead of laying it over the top (traditionally). I did this because it was over 7" tall and I was afraid I'd have issues with ripples at the bottom! :) - although, I realized later my stripes would have covered that! ;) Oh well, it worked beautifully. The little seam was pretty much hidden by the tallest point on the stripes and one of the big balloons. You could hardly see it unless you really looked for it. I love having the modeling chocolate in the fondant when I wrap cakes because you can heat the seams with your fingers and almost melt that seam together so it virtually disappears!!!

Now, a little "lesson learned" on this one! It's amazing that I still have yet to make a cake without issues!!!!!!!! Just shows you cake is never perfect!! :) The ganache separated on me...it completely broke and I could NOT get it back together!! That had never happened before, but I know why it happened!! Silly me!!! After I melted the chocolate just a bit, and heated my cream and poured the cream over the chocolate, I tried stirring/mixing it with my spatula!!! WHAT WAS I THINKING!!!!!!!! - well, that's it...I wasn't! I totally didn't even think anything would happen and that's what I had in my hand at the time...I'm SO lazy!! Anyhoo...it came together pretty good, then all of a sudden, it got really wet! - and started getting all weird looking. It wouldn't stick to the spatula, the cake, anything...it was WEIRD! I struggled with it for 2 hours before just slapping it on the cake the best I could and getting it in the fridge. I then had to spend another hour scraping the chocolate down to get it smooth. When I used a warm spatula on the chilled ganache it started separating again...but when I scraped it with a cold bench scraper, it worked great! So, lesson learned...use a wisk to incorporate your ganache EVERY time, and if it does seize, scrape the ganache to smooth it...don't use heat.

Now, I tried looking all over for a few ways to save the ganache, and tried a few techniques, but nothing really worked. It would come back together, but as it cooled, it'd start breaking again!! It was SO weird!! Here are a few links I tried...I was probably doing something wrong, but you could try these links if your ganache breaks!!!
ehow (I didn't try this, but this makes the most sense if you have a temp gauge)
cutoutandkeep (I tried this and it didn't work after it started cooling)

I'm just thankful I was able to finish the cake! :) God is good and always helps me through it, even at the last hour!!! Thank you Ashley for having a baby girl!! Thank you Kim for your amazing design and all the work you did on this shower!! Thank you Jamie for hosting at your log house ;) and for the memorable pics!! You girls are amazing and I am so thankful to be apart of your lives...forever! - because we're family!!! I'm SO thankful for marrying into the Harris clan...God is SO good and has blessed me far beyond what I could have imagined with all of you!! Praise you Jesus for all my blessings!!!!