Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dessert Island

I used to order cakes for my kids' birthdays from the Wal-Mart bakery, until it hit me that I was paying $20-30 for what I could probably make with $5-10, and you know me... the pennies have to be pinched, whether they like it or not, so mama got creative.

The first step is always searching the internet for inspiration. I found a few great pirate cakes online, including a treasure chest, a jolly roger, and an awesome pirate ship, but none that felt quite right... (meaning I didn't have supplies on hand that I could adapt to my purpose.) Finally, inspiration hit, and I decided on a "desserted island" theme. (Yes, I know deserted is spelled with one s... I meant to pun, deal with it.)

So I gathered my supplies, including yellow cake mix (because you know I don't really bake), a cardboard cake board left over from the 50 Sucks cake, a skeleton from my Haunted Dollhouse, a scrap of fabric from the Pirate Pennant, and other sundry items.

The cake pan is a flower pan, but I thought it would make a nice island shape.
The skeletons were 4/$1 at Dollar Tree, I made the flag out of a scrap of fabric
and a shish-kabab skewer, the treasure chest is one of Eli's toys, and the rest
is scenery.
I baked my cake like normal, using my flower pan for the island shape. Yellow cake seemed the most sand-colored, so I went with that.

While that was cooling, I prepared the cake board as follows:

I mixed together white and blue acrylic paint, using an egg carton as my
palette. The goal is to simulate water.

Painting it on in a circular pattern, I simulated waves lapping up against the
island. I thought about putting saran wrap over top, but decided it wasn't
necessary. Acrylic paint is non-toxic and water proof, so it wasn't going to
hurt the cake.

Ta-da! Yes, it's a flower cake... but I had a plan to make it look more like a
desert island.
I was undecided on whether it needed icing under the sand-topping I was going to make. In the end, I decided to skip it because I didn't want to make it TOO sweet. No icing meant that the sand wouldn't stick to the sides of the cake, but the color of the cake was acceptable, so I skipped it.

I made the sand out of graham cracker crumbs and brown sugar. I couldn't find any graham cracker crumbs in the store, so I just took my mini chopper and chopped them up. See:

The chunky graham cracker crumbs gave my sand some texture and the
brown sugar added sparkle.

I just spooned it on the top and around the edges to make my sand. 
The island is pretty well done, now time to add my stranded pirate. I cut a scrap of red silky fabric for a weathered bandanna and sewed a small bit of black cloth into a tricorn hat. I had to prop up the birthday candle with a bit of wooden skewer since my skeleton was leaning on top of it, but it turned out pretty cute:

This pirate may not have a ship, but by golly, he's got his treasure.

The rocks are toffee-covered peanuts. Chocolate peanut clusters would have
worked as well, but I didn't have time to get any.
The cake got rave reviews. Not only was it cute, it tasted pretty good too. One guest mentioned it reminded her of coffee cake (one of my favorites), so I was pleased. With more time, I may have made it more elaborate, but honestly it was good enough, and that's sometimes all one can aspire to.

Even though I didn't get to do all the things I had hoped to accomplish, my kid enjoyed the party, and that is the most important thing.

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