Ethan and Harley’s ‘main’ birthday cakes, which I call, their ‘Sail Away’ cakes.
Sail Away Cakes
I didn’t really have a clear vision of what I wanted it to look like from the start, I just knew I wanted to have blue coloured torched meringue (to look like the sea) and I wanted it to go with the nautical theme. I actually just thought it would end up like a blue version of my 30th cake, but wanted it to be more appropriate for the occasion.
When I searched for ideas for nautical themed cakes, it ended up with a whole lot of fondant (which I hate) and cakes cut and shaped to be pirate ships (which I didn’t want to make x 2 of!!
I started off with making the cakes so that each cake would have 2 layers of Magic Bean Cake and 2 layers of Sweet Potato Caramel Mudcake. When I assembled it, it was HEAPS higher than I thought, but I made the cakes so I didn’t want to waste them lol! I had a whole bunch of ideas, like icing it an ombre blue and matching with the smash cakes but ended up trying to keep it simple with a lighter tone of blue for the buttercream base, and darker shade of blue for the white chocolate ganache.
2 days before the party…
I made the boats for to top the cakes. I was really determined to make the boats out of chocolate, but wasn’t sure if it would be too brittle/look terrible so had brown coloured fondant as back up (though all the fondant boats I looked at looked very bulky/heavy looking and I wanted it to have a crisper/lighter feel…and I hate fondant…so I’m glad I didn’t have to do that!).
I was an expert at folding boats after making heaps of paper boat food labels so I thought I would fold boats out of baking paper to use as a mould for the chocolate. I made 2 and stood them up in apples (I saw them on the bench in my fruit bowl and thought they would be great stands/weights for the wooden skewers lol!).
Making Chocolate Boats
I melted dark brown candy melts in a ziplock bag (20-30 second intervals and squishing it around in between until all melted). Then cut the tip off the ziplock bag and piped it onto the boat shaped baking paper to set. I didn’t end up checking them until the morning of the party, in hindsight I should have made a few back ups just in case it didn’t work or they broke in the process, but they ended up PERFECT and worked really well!
Piping the candy melts on
Ready to put in the fridge to set
Even though I hate fondant, I couldn’t think of any other way to make the ‘sails’ edible (though I would use paper if need be as a back up).
I rolled white fondant and roughly cut into square/rectangular shapes.
Rolling and cutting fondant
I tried putting the fondant straight onto the wooden skewer but it was too heavy so cut pieces of cardboard to skewer with it to support the weight of it.
Skewering fondant sails with cardboard
I used an egg carton to hold the skewers. I then left it out on the kitchen bench to dry out and harden for the day.
All done to set on the kitchen bench
The day before the party…
I took the cakes out of the freezer and made the buttercream whilst they defrosted.
As in my post yesterday with the smash cakes, I went through 9 kilos of buttercream icing for the 4 cakes. I made the buttercream icing using a 1:2 ratio of butter to icing sugar. No need to measure/weigh anything – I just chucked in a 500gm block of butter (room temp. cut into cubes), beat for about 30 seconds, then interrupted the beating about 4 times to progressively add and beat in a 1kg packet of icing sugar. I then beat till light, fluffy and when you can see the ‘yellowy’ butter colour has turned white.
Cakes defrosting, and ready to ice!
I started off with the Sweet Potato Caramel Mudcake at the base secured with melted white chocolate, then alternated the cakes ending up with the Magic Bean Cake at the top.
Securing base of cake with melted white chocolate
I didn’t cut the tops off as they ended up relatively flat after the baking and freezing. I used the ‘top’ Magic Bean Cake and turned it upside down as the bottom edging of the cake is heaps sharper from the pan than the top of the cake (I thought this was a genius idea at the time, though it probably is common practice with pro bakers!). I placed 3 wooden skewers through it to secure the layers, and I iced about 1cm of frosting in between the cake layers then finished it up with a crumb layer.
Frosting between cakes
More frosting between cakes
Securing with wooden skewers
Icing a Crumb Layer
Once the crumb layer was done, I put in the fridge to set.
I then mixed up the buttercream and used the Wiltons Gel Food Colouring Royal Blue Shade to create a light blue. I iced both cakes with the light blue then put in the fridge to set.
Covering in light blue icing
All done to set in the fridge
I have never ever ‘smoothed’ buttercream, but I really wanted to do it as I was unhappy with the finish of the icing from just putting it on with a spatula. I googled it and found some youtube video from America saying to do it with a Viva papertowel – I tried that and it DID NOT work! I ended up remembering seeing photos of people using those metal dough cutters (well that I use as a dough cutter) to smooth the buttercream. Once the icing was chilled in the fridge (so not sticky upon touch), I used my metal dough cutter to smooth the sides. I felt like a bricklayer smoothing out my mortar as the buttercream had a very putty like texture after being scraped and smoothened several times.
Smoothing buttercream icing with a metal dough cutter
Smoothed buttercream vs one that is about to get smoothened!
It took what felt like forever but came out soooo much nicer than I ever imagined (I am so using this technique in the future!) I almost thought of just using the cake plain like that! But… I don’t really do ‘plain’ lol… so then I made the white chocolate ganache.
I have never coloured white chocolate ganache before but researched it only works with gel food colouring. I did it the old school way on the stove (small pot with 1 inch of water on medium heat, with a glass pyrex bowl on top). I used 350 grams of cream and 450 grams of Nestle White Chocolate Melts.
White chocolate ganache…the old school way!
I heated up the cream first, then added the white chocolate bit by bit and stirred until melted in. Once the white chocolate was all melted, I added the gel food colouring in (same Royal Blue shade as the buttercream) with a toothpick to build up the colour to make it an intense blue.
Adding gel food colouring
It ended up slightly teal in colour as I think the white chocolate has a hint of yellow in it, but loved the colour, looked very ‘sea’ like. Once it was all mixed in, I took it off the stove and let it sit for about 10-20 minutes to cool and thicken up a bit. I then spooned it on with a metal tablespoon starting from the sides of the cake to drip down like candle wax, then filled in the top middle part of the cake once that was done.
Dripping ganache onto the sides of the cake
Filling in the middle of the cake with ganache
All ready to set in the fridge
I then put in the fridge to set overnight.
The morning of the party…
Well, lucky the boys are early risers, comes in handy sometimes!
I started off making 2 x batches of basic meringues.
I used my Kitchenaid (sorry Thermie!) as it is best for light and fluffy meringues, plus I was slightly disheartened by my Thermie from the previous day by failing to produce copious amounts of buttercream without getting error messages!! (though it still is great for everything else…and less ‘mass produced’ stuff lol!!)
I coloured the meringue with the Wiltons Royal Blue Gel Food Colouring (sticking to the same shade as the buttercream and ganache) to have a light blue colour, and not mix it in completely so it would have streaks of darker blue coming through).
Colouring the meringue
I then used a small spatula to spoon the meringue onto the cake, the torched it with a blow torch bit by bit to set and hold it, mindful of the angle of the blow torch so the ganache wouldn’t melt! I wanted it higher on one side of the top of the cake, then to trickle down the other side of the cake so the boat was placed on what looked like a floating sea cloud of torched meringue.
Meringue all ready to go!
Dolloping on the meringue and torching it
Building up on the meringue
Trickling meringue down the cake
I then took the chocolate boats out of the baking paper, they didn’t break (PHEWF) and placed them on the highest part of the meringue.
Assembling the chocolate boats
Placing the boats on the meringue
I then cut the cardboard out of the fondant sails, and secured the holes from the wooden skewers with white chocolate (as it was too heavy to hold without it), set in the fridge for a few minutes then placed 3 within the chocolate boat.
I needed to ‘bling’ it up abit, so with my fingers, I sprinkled glitter on top of the sails, and placed light blue cachous vertically on the buttercream and rubbed glitter over it. I also used the ‘sand’ that I made from the smash cakes (blitzed up scotch finger) and placed it in sections of the cake. I then topped it off with a wooden cake topper with the boys names.
Meringue and ‘sand’
Blue Cachous and blue edible glitter
Harley’s Sail Away Cake
Ethan’s Sail Away Cake
Harley’s Sail Away Cake
Ethan’s Sail Away Cake
Sail Away Cakes
Inside the cake – Magic Bean Cake and Sweet Potato Caramel Mudcake