A Malaysian brother's graduation. Perfect! An occasion to bake and decorate a cake for. An excuse to fling open the restless idea box in my head. An excuse to launch yet another experiment. A reason to practice my cake decorating skills. I can almost feel the itch consuming my hands at the time, as I'm typing this now, years later.
Hubby had volunteered to organize a graduation celebration gathering for the brother, whose parents had come all the way from Malaysia. The gathering was done at our place, and the cake was to be a surprise.
I don't remember exactly how I came about with the idea for an OSU cake, but then again, the previous graduation cake I had made for the Malaysian brothers was OSU in nature too. However, the first thing I did to botch this cake up was the color of the base cake; pink. Malaysian brother, pink. Get it? Uh uh, not a good color, though those of you who notice that Malaysians tend to be 'colorful' may think,
Isn't that normal though? Their men wear purple, green, pastels, so why not pink?
Well, I guess some of our men do wear pink, but I personally wouldn't associate my boys, or husband for that matter with the color pink. So, to me, it was a flaw. The first flaw for this cake.
However, it took so much coloring to make it dark red, and I didn't want to use more lest we end up with more red coloring than the cake in our tummies, so I settled with dark pink. The bottom tier were two 10 inch cakes, filled and frosted with buttercream. I had somehow managed to get a portion of the frosting dark red (it takes some time for the color to take on a deeper and darker shade), and I used it for the borders.
Since there were about 20 and more people coming, I decided to make a two-tiered cake. It had to be OSU in nature. OSU it was. It was difficult to get that black too (which was actually a very dark gray), but I got it. At least it looked black.
I baked two 8 inch cakes for the top tier, and carved them out, using a template I had made out on parchment paper, so they would have the outline of the Ohio State logo. I filled and frosted the carved cakes, and voila, I had a perfectly clean slate to make my OSU logo. From there on, it was ... nerve-wrecking cake decorating. I couldn't botch that up.
Looking back, I should have made the top tier 6 inches, because 2 inches of a difference is not enough for a two-tiered cake. I had thought that the carving would make the 8 inch cakes smaller, but I was wrong. Another botch up. Sigh...
Making the Ohio State logo was definitely not easy. I used a toothpick and carefully drew it out on my clean slate. The nice thing about it, is, when I made mistakes, I could easily 'erase' it by smoothing out the frosting, and start over.I do believe this would have been easier with rolled buttercream or rolled fondant though.
I have to say, that the hardest part is centering the huge, long S, because those two words, and how they are placed in this whole thing, depends largely on the S. That darn ! I have had to start over so many times because I had started with Ohio instead of starting with the S. Nevertheless, alhamdulillah, it turned out presentable.
The base or bottom tier was easy. It was like any other cake I've decorated; straightforwardly border making and writing. For this cake project, I had also decided to test a principle in Physics as an excuse to saving some dollars. Since a hollow cylinder is supposed to be stronger than a solid cylinder, I decided to test it out by using straws instead of buying some dowel rods at the cake store. And of course I had to botch things up yet again. After poking all the straws deep into the bottom tier, I realized that I hadn't cut them all at the same precise length. I debated whether to take them all out and cut new straws, but I held back, and moved on. From the photo below, you can even see that the placements of those straws were not carefully planned. Ahh...the work of a beginner.
Nevertheless, the unevenness was not so much as to make it all a big embarassing flop. The straws did their job and that principle in Physics was proved true, and my dollars saved. The top tier did seem to float awkwardly above the bottom tier though, since the height of the straws were not precisely the same, and I had cut them a little taller than they should have been.
All in all, I wasn't completely happy with this cake, as my perfectionist eyes saw all the glaring flaws, but it made the brother happy, so I guess, I couldn't ask for more. Alhamdulillah! It was homemade, customized, and full of faults. The cake didn't turn out as perfect as I wanted it to be, but alhamdulillah, I committed mistakes that I could learn from. Looking at this cake, I will always remember the 4 inch rule: the difference between the diameter of the bottom and immediate top tier would best be 4 inches, not less, not more. And of course, the straws...I will never forget those straws.