Saturday, November 1, 2008

Carousel Cake

Fun cakes. That's what I call them. I don't make a lot of them, unfortunately. And of the ones that I do make, this is my favorite so far. I call it Carousel Cake. It was the Summer of '04. I was about five months pregnant (it seems that the bake and cake decorating craze always struck me in my second trimester, how weird is that?).

We were going to have the Malaysians over for lunch. I was itching to make a cake. I owed one to my oldest daughter, for graduating to the two wheeler from the four wheeler. Hubby had a 4.0 GPA that quarter. And the other two kids had accomplishments of their own that merited celebrating. I was leafing through my Creative Cakes three ring book, whose contents I had amassed from my days in Iowa, and my searching gaze fell upon a clown carousel cake.

I knew then what I wanted to make; a carousel cake of my own. Only, I couldn't make horses, since I didn't want to make animate beings. And since I owed my daughter a cake to celebrate her graduating to a two-wheeler, I thought,

Hmm..what about bikes?

I could feel my brain cranking up immediately. Ideas sprouted like wild dandelions across a wild expanse of the prairie. You could see yellow everywhere, and in my case, a mother of three who couldn't hear what was said to her because she was a world of her own. Excitement suffused me like the sun's warm rays on a bright sunny day. My creative side thrived and throbbed with anticipation of the inevitable outcome. When I am struck by all the above, something usually comes out, in one form or another.

I had never constructed such a cake before, so I started by looking at cake pictures by experts and amateurs alike both online and in books and magazines. Trips to the libraries were then rewarded by handful of cake decorating books. What can I say? I love research.

I figured out the base pretty easily, but it was the carousel that took some planning. For the bicycles, I decided to draw a template of a bicycle outline and use it as my guide for making 'bicycle cookies'. I rolled out some sugar cookie dough, and cut out four bicycle shapes, one for each of my children and husband, and baked them (the cookies, not my husband and children).

Of course, before actually doing any of these, I took out my sketch book, which serves as the documentation of these ideas in my head, which I use for both cake decorating and sewing, and on occasion, sketching for the sake of sketching itself. Yes, I have my mother's genes. I used to spend my time sketching; the gates of our three storey apartment when I was 15, the fatherly swivel chair in the living room, and the scene (which included the Stadium's top) from my perch atop the slope near Lincoln Tower while my husband was playing basketball with the Malaysian brothers. I don't sketch a lot anymore, mostly because I have found a new outlet for these creative attacks; the blogosphere.

So, I had the picture of the bicycle in mind before I went ahead and made the cookies in shapes of the bicycles. Come time to put the finer details on them, royal icing proved to be 'the man'. Though you can clearly see that my control of the piping bags were not that good, from the looks of the details on those bicycles. But I guess they make for a whimsical cake, well, at least that's my excuse.

Next came the issue of the carousel top. How should I construct them? Again, royal icing, and cookies. I made the triangular wedges from cookies, and iced them in different colors with the royal icing. The wide base of it, I supported with an 8-inch cake board, to which I adhered them all to with royal icing, the perfect dry hard glue. I had also spied these chocolate wafers at Aldi, and may I say I love the containers they come in! I still have them in my pantry. As the hidden pillar, I believe (and I say this because I had racked my brains trying to remember what I used but I can't for the life of me remember with certainty, 100% certainty that is. It was made 4 years ago!) I used an empty paper towel cardboard tube. So I glued the base of those triangular wedges to the 8-inch cake board and the tops along the circumference of the paper towel cardboard tube, which then automatically served as the hidden pillar inside the carousel top. In this tube, I stuffed goodies, some of which you could see at the top (the gum drops).

It took me literally days to make just the carousel top, because I had to wait for the royal icing to dry, and since it was my first time constructing such a cake, I had to also prepare for disasters and back ups, which never came to be, alhamdulillah!

Once the carousel top was done, all I had to make was the cake base, which was the easiest part of the cake, well, relatively. To make it even simpler, I decided to frost it using chocolate glaze instead of buttercream frosting. One: I didn't have time or patience, or energy to make buttercream frosting (I'm a from scratch person, so no ready-made frosting for me, even if I'm pressed for time). Two: making the chocolate glaze is easy, it involves just a blender and ingredients. Three: any mistakes is easily rectified with the chocolate glaze. The base decorating was fun too, as I stuck M&Ms almost everywhere, including my mouth.

Once I had the base ready, with bated breath, I took four chocolate wafers, and stuck each on four marked spots on the cake base, and thrusted them all the way to the bottom (yes, they make holes in the cake). Next, came the carousel top. Very gingerly, I placed the whole constructed top with a cake board as the base on the tops of those four standing chocolate wafers, and hoped and prayed they would hold. Alhamdulillah, they did.

The bicycles came next and voila! I have to say that the most memorable thing about this whole cake was that I was able to put it on a lazy Suzan, and actually turn it around and around, like a real carousel. Somehow, I can't seem to find that video in my folders. Oh well, you can use your imagination, can't you?

After this cake, I had a 'roller coaster' theme in my head, but to this day, I haven't made another elaborate fun cake such as this. Maybe I will, but I honestly don't know when. My children might make it before I would. Yes, I think they will. Once we settle down inshaallah.

Uh oh! I can feel the creative attack coming...

How to Decorate Cookies Using Royal Icing


  1. This is WAY out of my league, mashaa Allah.

  2. Wow....That has to be the most beautiful (homemade) cake i've ever seen. Miss Juli you're in another league mashaAllah! :)

  3. amatullah...err..then you should check out my mom's cakes :) compared to hers, this one looks plain lol

    bintaadam, well, I don't do it anymore lol