The Run for the Roses was yesterday, and my client (a family friend) loves to go all out: red roses in black riding boots lining the front walk, BBQ brought in from a local joint, and bets placed on behalf of partygoers at the local (Los Alamitos) track! He created a terrific invitation and asked that the cake exactly mirror the artwork on the card. He specified all other details of the look of the cake including the style of the lettering and the kinds of additional fondant decorations. Here's the invitation (as he mocked it up for me):
... and here's the cake!
I made rolled fondant roses to surround all sides of the cake, because my client prefers modern design elements and clean lines. However, for the single rose placed in the center of the gold horseshoe, I couldn't resist a more traditional look with lots of petals. I also had a great time experimenting with luster dust: the horseshoe is white fondant painted with antique gold luster dust (about a quarter-teaspoon mixed with a few drops of vodka - it won't work with water - and painted on with a food-only paintbrush). I made the indentations with a narrow chopstick.
A closer look at the jockeys and the horse. (In examining these so closely, I just realized I forgot to go back and add two lines of black detailing and one line of red. Can you spot 'em? The stripe on the yellow jockey's arm, the stitching on the green jockey's pants, and the stripe on the red jockey's pants. Oops!)
After a bit of experimenting, here's how I made these shapes: I rolled out white fondant fairly thin - maybe 1/8" - and cut out the basic shapes of the horse and the jockeys' bodies. With black royal icing, I outlined the bodies freehand, and after that dried, I filled in the outlines with the appropriate colors. For the whips, I used tiny pieces of black fondant, and I painted on the appropriate-colored handles. I made these a few days ago and laid them on parchment on a cookie sheet to dry. The hardened fondant was firm enough that I could lift each piece and glue it on the cake with a bit of royal icing. When I tried to make the shapes just out of royal icing, they looked terrific, but they were too delicate to transfer. A fondant base gave them just a little more sturdiness, but because the fondant was so thin, it wasn't really too visible on the cake.
My client requested three layers of cake - chocolate/vanilla/chocolate - and although it was covered in vanilla buttercream, he wanted to kick up the filling a notch, so we flavored it with Bailey's. Just a hint - enough that you could taste it, but not so much that you'd be blown away by the alcohol taste.
This cake was an awesome challenge, and I was so excited to make it. Hopefully someone won big bucks on the horses, and everyone enjoyed the cake!
"I got the horse right here, the name is Paul Revere, and here's a guy that says if the weather's clear, can do, can do, this guy says the horse can do." (Guys and Dolls, 1950)