Last week my daughter turned 4. How she can already be 4 is completely beyond my comprehension. It seems like just yesterday I went in for my weekly check up only to discover that with each Braxton Hicks contraction the baby’s heart rate was dropping to 40 beats per minute. I’ve never seen a nurse react so fast in my life which was very alarming I might add. A few hours later, she was born, with the cord wrapped around her neck. Poor thing was being choked every time I had a contraction. So now we have progressed past all the extreme stress associated with having a preemie and have a fun, little, unique person who loves to dance, play with animals and boss her brothers!
Like with the rest of the family, I make any kind of cake requested for their birthdays. J requested a purple crown cake, so after getting ideas on Pinterest, I came up with the my own rendition of a crown cake. I’m not sure where she got the idea for a crown cake as we’ve never called her “princess” or “queen” or whatever. Maybe it’s innate or maybe it’s just all the Barbie Princess movies around this house!
I started out by recruiting my kitchen helper- #3 child. He loves to be busy creating and is so much less surly when fully engaged in an activity. We got the box of fondant down from the cupboard. I bought the Wilton Fondant at Michael’s years ago and have been meaning to try it out a thousand times since then. It was rock hard. A quick google search said we could microwave it and that worked perfectly. After that, working with the fondant was a little like working with play-doh.
Once I had the fondant all rolled out I looked for an image of a crown on the internet. Then, I cut the image out of fondant and placed it around my powdered sugar canister to take on the circular shape. I had no idea if it would harden in the desired shape or not so we kept our fingers crossed.
By this time, the kitchen looked like it had been hit by a bomb of powdered sugar (which is used to keep the fondant from sticking, it’s the equivalent of flour and dough). By now I had another helper in the kitchen, the birthday girl, so there were bits of fondant everywhere. Meanwhile, #3 had been watching fondant tutorials on YouTube and was churning out cute, little fondant roses. He even made an instructional video about how to create the roses. I looked past the mess and just enjoyed the moment- they were having so much fun! I decorated the crown using edible jewels and edible glitter. You can find these items from Fancy Flours out of Bozeman, MT. They have the coolest baking items!
As you may have noticed in the above photo- 4 sticks of butter softening in the morning sun. That can only mean one thing: Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting- my favorite! That leads us to the next step, frosting the cake-
First of all, separate 5 eggs and add 1 cup of sugar. Place this over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk the ingredients until the sugar has dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, the whites should be cooked enough to be safe for consumption. You’ll know the sugar has dissolved by rubbing a bit of the mixture between your fingers, if you can still feel the grittiness of the sugar, keep it on the heat. Be careful however, not to scramble your egg whites. After that, start whipping the mixture until it becomes meringue. At this point it will be beautiful and so yummy. I could live on meringue!
The next step gets a little tricky. Start adding your butter, bit by bit using the paddle blade to mix the meringue. The meringue starts to lose it volume and it loosens up quite a bit. Then, the unimaginable happens, the frosting curdles and looks like cottage cheese. Yes, the frosting is broken, but do not despair, it can be fixed. Sometimes you have to microwave a bit of it and add it back to the mixing bowl and sometimes you just have to keep on mixing it all the while praying like mad. I did the latter and then, suddenly, it comes back together and becomes buttercream frosting. It really is the weirdest thing and strikes terror in your heart when it happens. I also added food coloring and 3 tsp. of vanilla extract. For some buttercreams I’ve added amaretto and sometimes coconut extract. It is all divine and you instantly gain 5 pounds (some calories are so worth it)! It’s pretty hard to tell from the photo, but things went from bad to worse pretty quickly-
After that dramatic saga which usually is the reason people purchase their cakes from a bakery, it was time to get it all assembled. I put the crown on top of the cake, added some cute circles and sparkler candles (that didn’t sparkle at all). J was so excited to see it all finished and said to me, “You DID it!”