Under the Sea Birthday Party
I’m back online after a week of baking and it took a while to get all that icing sugar out of my hair. The party was a rousing success and I’m happy to report that many people enjoyed themselves and the food ;). I wanted to do a fairly quick blog post on how I made Zac’s Under the Sea/Fish Tank birthday cake which looked very impressive but was actually very easy to make.
I started with the easy recipe I shared over here and once that cooled I levelled it off by trimming the sides and flattening the top to give me a smooth surface to work on. I also filled any cracks with buttercream to ensure that the cake would continue to look smooth and the fondant wouldn’t find any uneven surfaces. I bought a kg of fondant which you can find here and managed to not only make the road surface for Zac’s school birthday cake but also managed to make all the sea creatures (using a chocolate sea themed mould) and cover the cake with enough left over to cover this year’s Christmas cake. Before I put the fondant onto the cake I smoothed on a healthy layer of buttercream to help the fondant to stick and also to keep the cake moist and make it edible for children as many don’t like to eat fondant.
I rolled out the fondant onto a silicon mat dusted with some icing sugar and carefully transferred this onto the prepped cake by lifting the silicon mat. This helped as it kept the fondant in one piece and it didn’t break before it got onto the cake.
I found this really cool product on my favourite kitchen tools site YuppieChef.com that allowed me to connect with my inner graffiti artist and made it really easy to build up shade of blue for the water of the tank. Make sure you work in a well ventilated room (which I didn’t because I didn’t want the wind to blow the food colouring everywhere…so I got a little high ;)) I also got some white vermicilli which I mixed with a bit of gold dust to make the sea floor. Once that was done I made a paste with icing sugar and just enough water to make a “glue” and glued everything down. I then finished off the cake with some buttercream seaweed and coral.
*Cooks note* I made the sea creatures over a few days and allowed them to dry for about a week before I put them on the cake. This ensured that they were easy to stick down and didn’t become an unstable component of decorating the cake.
Now a blog post isn’t a blog post without a recipe so I wanted to share with you how I made the caramel corn that was a complete hit at the party. Let me assure you that while it was easy, it was also the hardest thing to work with that I tackled all week. Hot, super sticky caramel isn’t a job for children or people who don’t have thrill issues ;).
After a little research I settled on the “grandmother of butter”‘s recipe for Caramel Corn and yes, she uses a cup of butter. For the original recipe, click here
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup light corn syrup, liquid glucose or clear runny honey
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 120 degrees C.
Over medium heat, combine first 4 ingredients and boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in baking soda. Stir well. Pour over 8 quarts popped corn. Stir to coat well. Bake in large roaster or pan for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Spread on waxed paper to dry.
I popped 1 cup of popcorn kernels on the stove with about 30ml of sunflower oil (in batches). This gave me enough popcorn to more than fill the bucket you see in the picture above. This was also more than enough popcorn to make sure that everytime you stirred the popcorn to coat with the caramel about half a cup of it fell out of the oven pan. One day I will make this again and figure out an easier, less messy way of getting this done. I have a feeling it might take a giant piece of wax paper that I can make a garbage sized bag with and toss it all in there.