Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bill's 90th Birthday Cake

I was so pleased when my good friend Bill asked me to make his dad's 90th birthday cake. His dad, Bill Haug, is a World War II hero who received three medals, the Silver Star, Bronze Star and Purple Heart, so we thought it would be nice to incorporate those into the design.

After some thought, I concluded that sugar cookie and royal icing would be the best mediums for making the medals. With royal icing, I could add lots of clean details and I also really liked the idea of being able to make the medals ahead of time.

Another detail we decided to add to the design was an edible photo. This is something I've been wanting to try for quite a while and it turned out to be surprisingly simple.  I just called the bakery department at my local Fred Meyer and the man who answered said all I needed to do was come in with the actual photo and they could print it on a frosting sheet for $9.

Once you get your frosting sheet photo, you need to keep it wrapped and away from sunlight until you are ready to place it on the cake. Exposure to air will cause it to dry out and become brittle and difficult to apply.

When you are ready to add it to the cake, the only real trick is it needs to be placed on fresh and smooth frosting. If the frosting is fresh, the photo sheet will melt into the cake and look cohesive. If you add it to cold frosting, it won't melt in and just look like a piece of paper sitting on top of a cake. Also, the helpful man at Fred Meyer said the frosting sheets look best on plain untinted buttercream.

After placing the edible photo on the cake, I gently smoothed it out with my hands and piped a border around it. It was a really nice addition and super easy.

Here are some more details:
I sketched the medals on paper and designed a template for cutting the cookies.

Cutting the cookies.

Ready to bake.

I flooded all three of the cookies with white icing and let that dry. Then, I added the medals in royal icing. The purple heart was the most complicated because of George Washington's profile. To make him, I piped a blob of medium consistency icing and used my scribe tool to maneuver it to create his shape. After that first layer dried, I added the hair and other details.

I gilded the medals using luster dust. After the royal icing was completely dry, I mixed the gold, silver and bronze luster dusts each with a bit of vodka and then painted it on.

I also customized the candles for Bill's cake. I bought these but they just didn't look sophisticated enough for a 90 year-old.

I made a paint by mixing a bit of meringue powder with water and blue gel coloring.

I painted the candles.

And then I immediately added colored sprinkles while the paint was still wet.

I shook off the excess sprinkles and set them aside to dry. Once dry, I used a soft brush to remove any stubborn remaining loose sprinkles.
I flipped over my sheetcake pan and with my friend Bill's help, we got a plan together for the layout.

The day before the celebration it was cake baking time. I made two Guinness Chocolate sheetcakes. For each sheetcake, I made my favorite recipe x 2.5.

I placed one of the cooled sheetcakes on my cake cardboard.

Then I filled it with seedless raspberry filling and added the second cooled sheetcake. I also placed strips of parchment under the cake to keep the cardboard clean while frosting.

I frosted the sides first.

And then I frosted the top. It took a lot of frosting!

After a single coat of frosting, I chilled the cake overnight.

On the day of the celebration, I added a second coat of fresh frosting and the edible photo. I also piped a border around the photo and around the edges of the cake. Now it's time to get my husband to help me transport it.

The cake at the venue, ready for the party!


  1. This is really a very nice cake and I am sure he would have been loved it. I also celebrated my father’s birthday at Los Angeles venues this year and got a customized cake for him. He loved it and that made me really happy.

    1. Oh thank you so much. It always feels good to celebrate those we love.

  2. Thanks for one’s Good posting! I enjoyed reading it, I want to encourage you to definitely continue your great writing, have a nice evening! keeping this website.

    Edible inks

    1. John,
      Thank you so much for your kind words and encouragement. It means a lot to me.