Sunday, March 3, 2013

The Lego Cake

Since it’s been a while since I’ve blogged here I thought I would start by posting a few things I have done recently. 

At the beginning of January my best friend B's son was turning 9 and she asked if I would make him a Lego cake like the one I made for K for his first birthday.  Apparently her son had been talking about K’s cake since last year.  Now, I must start off by stating that the Lego cake I made for K last year was not one of my best; by a long shot.  It was however, a big hit with the kids, and honestly when it’s for a child’s birthday party that really is the only thing that matters. 

For K’s cake I went over many different options in my head before deciding that mini upside down cupcakes would make the best knobs for the top of the Lego pieces.  And since my history and proficiency with icing cakes has been with butter cream icing I figure that it wouldn’t be a big deal to just flat ice it all.  I mean I’ve iced dozens of rectangular shaped cakes before how hard could it be??  Holy mother of pearl!  Those little cupcakes were a pain in ass to ice smooth, especially if you don’t want there to be gaps or bulges where the knob meet the top of the rectangle.  Needless to say, by the end of it I was very frazzled, had given up on trying to make a great looking Lego cake and needed a drink.  And in case you don’t believe me when I say it’s wasn’t my best work I’ve added some photo proof. 
Crazy Lego cake:
Cake Fail

So when B asked me to make the cake I was just a tad hesitant.  It had been a year since K’s cake but I still had some post traumatic stress from it.   However, never one to back down from a cake challenge I decided that I would do it, but I would figure out a way to make it better looking and easier to make.  After much googling, I decided that candy melts and candy melt ganache were the way to go.  I hadn't tried this technique before but I figured it really couldn’t turn out any worse¸ could it?...  Now, some of you out there will ask yourselves, why not just use fondant?  It looks amazing.  Yes, yes it does and I have made cakes with it before, but most people I know don't like the taste of it.  And sometimes taste just has to win out over design.

So off I went, baked my cake in a 9 x 13 pan, let it cool, cut it into ‘lego blocks’ and then applied the apricot glaze.  So far so good!

Then it was on to the molded candy melts to make the knobs.  This was brilliant!!  Quick, easy and actually looked like Lego knobs.  Whoo hoo, things are working out great!

Now for the candy melt ganache.  It looks so easy online: simply melt, mix, and pour.  Well, now I’m not a complete idiot and so I know that it’s not going to be that simple, but it didn’t look like rocket science either.  So off I went to melt my yellow melts and make the ganache.  Step 1: don’t forget to chop your melts.  I forgot with the first batch and it takes waaaay longer for them to melt which in turn alters the consistency (at least that is my theory as to why it went wrong).  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  So melts are melted, I added in the cream and the ganache looked pretty good.  Then I poured.  Hmmmm... It didn’t exactly cover the whole cake, (which they said it probably wouldn’t) so I added more to the top of sections that were bare.  O...Kay...??    Now it just looks like I’ve melted processed cheese slices over top of my cake.  Not exactly the look I was going for, unless all of a sudden I’m making a square hamburger cake for his party. 

So, I try again. Same colour, chop the melts this time and pour again. A little less profanity and a bit better results. Still a bit lumpy but that’s okay, the instructions had said that 2 coats may be in order to get the smoothness needed for larger pieces of cake. I let it sit for a bit, reheat my ganache and pour over both yellow squares. Looking better!!  Less of a melted cheese look, but the original piece is still a bit off putting. So I decide to move on to another colour and cake piece now that I’m starting to get the hang of it.

Red piece – melted, stirred, poured and looks pretty good. 

Not crazy professional, but not like this either, lol!:
If you are ever in the need of some great laughs check out, you won't be disappointed.

Now for the large green block.  I was a bit worried with this one because the other small pieces were hard enough to cover so I thought this one would be worse.   Well, the cake gods must have been smiling upon me because both first and second layers of ganache went on very well and there wasn’t a swear word to be heard.

After letting the ganache harden for a little bit it was time to assemble the cake blocks into a Lego cake.  One of the things I thankfully had the foresight to do was put each cake block on to its own cake board so that it could be moved about somewhat easier, ‘somewhat’ being the operative word here.   Since they were ganached (is that a word??) while sitting on cooling rack there was still quite a bit of hardened ganache hanging down past the bottom of each cake block that I had to remove but still leave enough so that you couldn’t see the cake board they were sitting on.   This worked out relatively well as there were only a few spaces that didn’t quite meet up when the cakes were piled on top of each other.

Then, all I had left to do was add the candy melt knobs and make a border at the bottom of the cake to finish it off.  Hmmm, the border.  I had forgotten about the border until now.  At this point I was running out of time and didn’t have everything needed to make icing so I figured candy melts would do the job.  Note to self: think things through for a few minutes more before diving head first into candy melts for every answer.  And did I mention I was doing all the decorating of the cake the same afternoon I had to drop it off at my friend’s house??  In hindsight, not a brilliant use of time management, but when you have a toddler running around you cannot do this type of work while he is in the same house as you and awake.

But I digress.  Knobs were on and candy melts were melted for the border.   Now, I guess in my haste and exhaustion I forgot about the consistency of candy melts when they are melted.  They are not, I repeat NOT, the same consistency of icing.  So when I poured the melted candy into the decorator bag all it did was run right out the bottom.  Ya, you guessed it, more swearing. 

But I let it sit for a little bit and then I just used it like I would icing to do the border. Not the greatest border by a long shot but it got the job done with the supplies I had on hand. 

And, the birthday boy loved it!  Which in the end is really all that matters.

I figure the third time will be the charm if I ever decide to try a Lego cake again.  ;)  But I'm thinking at this point that will be a good ten years from now.

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