gymnast birthday cake

Time for another fun birthday cake! This one was for my mom's friends' granddaughter who is visiting from Minnesota. She is about the cutest little blond thing you've ever seen, and she has a penchant for Barbies, gymnastics, and the color purple. So you can see what I had to make for her:

I continue to work on my fondant sculpting technique, and I know I'm improving! Even though I meant for her to look cartoonish, I would've liked the shape of her head to be either totally round or a little more realistic; same with her body. Josh suggested putting a slight crease in her arm next time to make it look like the inside of her elbow. That's a matter of letting it dry enough to hold its shape, but not too much to crack, so I just have to work on my timing. But to stop being hard on myself, my top priority was to make cute hair (success!) and to make a gymnast, doing the splits on the beam, with her arms up (success!). Let's call it a win overall, and I'll keep practicing.

Here she is from all sides (this is just my way of memorializing for next time I sculpt a body).

Here's a close-up of her on the beam. Perfectly balanced!

She kind of looks like a Fisher-Price toy.

I wrapped a thin piece of brown fondant around the sides of the cake to make a second balance beam. Then I rolled out turquoise fondant, cut out gymnasts in different poses, and positioned them around the cake on the beam. I really liked how they came out. Since I did them a few days in advance, the fondant hardened, which meant it didn't conform to the curves of the cake, but I liked the 3-D effect (otherwise I might have warmed them ever so slightly - I'm talking 1 or 2 seconds in the microwave - to get them to bend to the curved sides).

The birthday girl's favorite flavor combo is vanilla cake with strawberry filling and vanilla buttercream. Because both the cake and the frosting are pretty sweet, I only added a little sugar to the strawberry filling. I think it would have benefited from some lemon zest and/or a tablespoon or so of lemon juice, but I thought I'd keep the flavor really simple for kiddo tastes.

Here's how I made the filling. The amounts are pretty rough.

Strawberry Filling
2 cups strawberries, hulled and chopped coarsely
1/4 - 1/3 cup sugar (to taste, depending on how sweet your berries are)
1 cup water
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Cut up the strawberries and place them in a saucepan with the sugar and about 3/4 cup of water. Begin cooking over medium heat until the mixture starts to boil and the berries begin to break down. In a small dish, stir together the cornstarch and remaining 1/4 cup water. Add to the berry mixture. Let it cook until it thickens. You can puree it or leave it chunky. (I actually pureed it, but then decided it was too smooth, so I threw in a few more berries, chopped pretty small, and let them cook down for another 3-4 minutes.) Cool, then use to fill the cake.

Tip: pipe a thick (1/2") border of frosting around the edge of the cake before filling it. The frosting moat helps prevent the filling from leaking out. If it does leak, just cover the side gently with more frosting.

Print strawberry filling recipe.
Print vanilla cake recipe.
Print vanilla buttercream recipe.


Nanette said…
So impressive, Jami!
Jami said…
Thanks, @Nanette!
sugarmagnolia70 said…
Gosh,that is just amazing! You might like this triathlon cake I saw on Twitter yesterday:

Cannot believe the work you do, my friend! Awesome!