Une Grande Madame – A three-tiered 70th birthday fondant cake

If you still have breath to blow out seven big candles on your birthday cake, you certainly deserve no less pomp than this cake. My mother-in-law celebrated her 70th birthday with us last week. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to prepare something grand, something that would touch her and make her smile in the midst of tears. Recently, the husband retold something wise his mother told him once: there are two things nobody can ever take away from you – whatever you eat and see. I was glad to have provided the object for the two experiences to occur.

The design was inspired by a similar cake in May Clee-Cadman’s “Sweet and Simple Party Cakes”. It’s easy to put together and requires less time because I didn’t make any other decoration pieces from scratch. The celebratory team was actually very small, just a neat five and a half of us. Nobody’s gonna eat so much cake so the original plan was to have only the top tier real. After some thought, I decided to make two tiers real so that my mother-in-law could bring the cake home for another round of kaffee-und-kuchen celebration with her friends. This means I only baked two reasonably-sized round pans of sponge and that was it. Slice, fill and dress.

Fresh or silk flowers are always a good choice to add instant glam to a cake. The initial intention was to use deep red roses but the purple ones called out louder to me during the selection. The colour is a nice change from sweet pink and romantic red. Depending on the climate, the flowers can be arranged up to a day before the event. I did mine the evening before the evening birthday celebration and they held up well.

The long tale behind the cakes deserves another post. Here, I would only say that they were covered with two layers of fondant. They were allowed to rest a day in between. I’m still not good with piping and chose to line the bottom with satin ribbon instead of piped scrolls. The lines of dots were piped on after the fondant cover has dried. They were then dusted with edible metallic colour dust.

Some learning points to share:

1. Fondant does sweat after refrigeration. I read a number of forum comments about Satin Ice not sweating and took a gamble. Sadly I lose this time. Perhaps commercial cake kitchens have refrigerators with humidity and temperature controls. The normal home fridge wouldn’t do. I was a little dismayed the look was not quite perfect because only the refrigerated middle tier was really shiny whereas the other two tiers remain matt.

2. A higher saturation of colour can be obtained on the dots by applying a paste made out of mixing the colour dust with an alcoholic medium. I simply used some lemon extract.

3. Mousse-filled sponge cakes are really not firm enough to hold fondant up. The middle tier was bulging because the mousse succumbed to the weight of all that sugar on top.

4. Clee-Cadman’s book didn’t give instructions on creating the lines of dots. Having full knowledge of my fuzzy sense of alignment, I used a ruler to measure the distance between the dots and a cake tester to make indents in the fondant. The result was really neat.

5. Instead of full styrofoam rounds for the floral arrangments, I used the only available option from the craft shop – styrofoam rings. They work well too.

6. Don’t waste money on cutters. The two numbers were cut with the aid of a paper template. Simply roll the fondant out, place paper template on top, cut around the edge with a small knife.


One thought on “Une Grande Madame – A three-tiered 70th birthday fondant cake

  1. I am selling the house and you could start thinking of the name for your shop!
    No not sleeping on the street…believe i will get a bungalow with swimming pool!
    I am living for the cake!

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