This is the second fondant cake I made and made on request for my future mother-in-law for her mother’s 80th birthday.
I’m not sure I remember exactly why I made the cake into a hat, I think I just thought it was a neat idea I wanted to try. The lacy cake board I had bought for the occasion really pulled the idea together.
I baked two cake layers, stacked them, and used a knife to shape the hat. After putting the yellow fondant over the cakes and trimming it to make a brim I decided the hat needed a ribbon. I ended up making the ribbon in four pieces. The first piece was the band that went around the hat. The second piece was the two loops. The third piece wrapped around the two loops, and the forth piece was the two trailing pieces hanging off the hat.
Once the ribbon was on I added white roses and leaves on both sides and the back of the hat. I used leftover buttercream from frosting the cake to create the roses.
I knew from the start I had to do something with cardinals. Cardinals are her favorite birds! I made three cardinals in total. One on each side of the cake, and one in the front. The two on the side have their wings close to their bodies, and the one in the front and one wing extended up towards the top of the cake.
I sculpted the birds out of store-bought gum paste that I tinted red. (I remember my fingers were stained red until the next day!) I made the cardinals in two pieces, the body and the head. I used toothpicks to anchor the head into the body. (Again, whenever using toothpicks for support, remember to tell the people eating the cake!) I then used another toothpick to carve out details such as the wings, comb, and tail feathers. After adding an orange beak, I watered down some black food coloring and painted on the black around the beak and for the eyes.
And then the cake was done except for the birthday message on top of the hat.
I’m told she enjoyed her cake very much and much to my surprise enjoyed eating the cardinals as well! (I didn’t think the gum paste tasted good enough to enjoy eating!)
*What I learned: When shaping cake you have to be very careful to get a seamless look, otherwise your mistakes will show up after the fondant is smoothed out. I can see areas where I should have either smoothed the cake out more or added more frosting in order to give the slope of the hat a more finished look.
*Sweet Change: If I would do it over again, I would start a day early to make the birds. Since I was rushed on time I wasn’t able to put as much detail into the cardinals as I would have liked. I think they would have looked a lot better if I had molded the shape of the bird out of gum paste more instead of using the toothpick to carve out details.