Sunday, February 6, 2011

Sweet idea gone awry

Sometimes a sweet idea doesn't execute as planned.

Our niece's 6 year old son wanted a bike cake for his birthday. His mom said that might be hard for me to make. He said the bike didn't have to be standing up on the cake, it could be flat on top of the cake. Still not convinced this was do-able, his mom asked for other ideas. His 8 year old sister said that nothing was too hard for me. Awww, thanks Allison for your vote of confidence but could you please be quiet and not put so much pressure on me! Josh's second choice was a cake with "just" his picture on it, one that looks exactly like him and it could just say Happy Birthday.

Oh boy.

I googled bicycle themed cakes and found one that used candy to make a bike. Cool! The kids will love the candy and it looked easy.

  • I needed a frosted 9 x 13 inch cake  No problem.
  • Chocolate Cow Tales  I had no idea what these were or where to find them. Googling showed me that they looked like this and were to be stretched to 9" to form the bike tires.

I found a package of much smaller ones at Cracker Barrel and bought those, hoping I could merge 2-3 smaller ones into one tire. That didn't work, but I am getting ahead of myself. While shopping with my daughter-in-law last weekend, we found a candy store at a mall that had these. I bought 4 for almost $3. Two were needed, two would be just-in-case spares.

  • Twizzlers Rainbow Twists
  • M&Ms      I used candy dots, the ones on paper, bought at Cracker Barrel
  • Candy Sticks    I knew I could find these at Cracker Barrel. Grocers and bulk food stores did not have them
  • Fruit Streamers   Ok...I give...what are these things? I found what they are by Googling again, but no one here had them. Are they candy? Fruit snacks to be found in the cereal/snack food aisle? Mystery item located in housewares?) I bought Fruit Roll-Ups
  • Pez candies   I needed two for the pedals. I bought a Pez dispenser with 3 packs of Pez. It was cheaper than buying Pez refills. Anyone want an unopened pack of grape or cherry Pez?
  • Green edible glitter
I laid out the bike on wax paper to see how this was going to assemble. First step was to stretch the Cow Tales and form circles. The Cow tales were hard and brittle. They didn't stretch at all. When the first one broke in my hand, I tasted it. Blech! The small ones weren't chocolate, they were caramel so the color would have been wrong if they had worked, but that a moot point. They stretched some, but didn't meld into one 9" piece to become a circle. I had already looked for black licorice for the tires without success so I used the darkest Rainbow Twizzler (grape?) to form the tires.

Next step: Break 4-5 candy sticks into the lengths specified in the diagram and arrange them atop the cake as shown.  I guess you could call the small photo a diagram, but there weren't any lengths specified. I cut the sticks, Blueberry in this case, using a serrated knife. The Twizzlers didn't want to stay in a circle on their own, but fortunately stayed in place once they went on the frosting.

Small pieces of Twizzlers were cut for the seat, spokes and handlebar. I cut the spokes lengthwise to make them smaller. The handlebar Twizzler was placed on end into the cake with Streamers coming out of the top end. Remember that I couldn't find Kellogg Streamers? I cut Fruit Roll Ups into strips and jammed them into the Twizzler opening. I can only guess that Kellogg Streamers are sturdier than Fruit Roll Up strips or perhaps I don't know my own strength. I swore a bit, but not out loud. Ok, it was out loud, but I wasn't yelling and I was home alone.

The sprocket was a strip of Fruit Roll Up coiled into a circle and topped with a candy dot. Tinier cuts of the roll up became the stems for the pedals which were the Pez candies on their sides.

I tinted some frosting to write the birthday greeting and used some of it to add extra spokes. I probably should have left that alone but I was using up frosting. Better this than sticking the decorator tip in my mouth and squeezing the bag!

The one thing I thought would give me grief, removing the candy dots from their paper backing, was not a problem at all.

Here is the cake yesterday morning. At this point the only thing I was unhappy about was that the tires weren't round. This ride would be a bumpy one, but I knew Josh wouldn't mind.
We left for the party yesterday afternoon. It was snowing furiously. It was not in the least warm in the car or in the great outdoors. Within two minutes of being inside, the cake was unveiled for the birthday boy. He was happy but I was not. Look what happened...
The color on the candy sticks bled into the icing anywhere it touched the buttercream.

I'm not as hard on myself as I used to be, so I there is no shame or anger involved. I am disappointed though, and wonder if a strange convergence of candy issues occurred (stale Cow Tales? unusual properties in the blue dye of the stick candy?) or do the test kitchens decorate, photograph and immediately consume (or dispose) of the cake without experiencing a result like this.

The cake was good, the birthday boy was happy, and all is well that ends well. But Allison and Josh, your dear old aunt is finding it hard to accomplish some themes so could you please simplify your choices? How about a bright, happy cake decorated with leftover Twizzlers!


Jaclyn Hicks said...

You are such a wonderful Auntie!! To go through all that trouble!! By the way, I love the cake, you are so creative! Have a wonderful rest of your weekend!

Blondie's Journal said...


You did a wonderful job on the cake, and it looks like it was fun to make! Look are going to become the appointed cake maker from here on!


LemonyRenee' said...

Oh, I think the cake was still wonderful. And to kids -- the more colorful the better, right? I have never heard of fruit streamers, either. You did a commendable job. And I love that rainbow twizzlers cake! I would request that one myself! (May I save a picture of it for future cake inspirations?)

Changes in the wind said...

Wow...what a great effort you made to please that little guy....too bad that candy was really cute.

Knitty said...

I found the Rainbow Twizzlers cake while looking for an image of the candy itself, so sure, feel free to use it as inspiration. :)

Anonymous said...

Where did you find your pattern? Do you think that the candy stick can be replaced with twizzlers as well? My son has two requests for his birthday--A red Velvet cake and to decorate it with Twizzlers. Gone are the days I can draw on a gift with frosting I guess...Any suggestions?

Knitty said...

I probably could have used Twizzlers for the bike frame, I just liked the look of the candy sticks and didn't know the color would run as it did.

Check out the Family Fun site for decorating ideas that are often easy and use candies, cookies, crackers, etc rather than requiring cake decorating tips and a steady hand.