This weekend was Pumpkin’s birthday party, which of course means cake time! Mr Jack pulled out our old GameCube for the boys a couple of months ago and they’ve been loving playing Mario Kart and Mario Party. So when it came to planning the birthday cake, the theme was obvious. He initially wanted me to make DK Mountain in cake form, but following a bit of research and with a little steering, we settled on Rainbow Road for inspiration.
I tend to take a ‘wing it and see’ approach to cakes. I use Google images and Pinterest as a starting point for ideas. YouTube videos are also helpful and on this occasion I stumbled across a YouTube channel called ‘Nerdy Nummies’ which had loads of relevant geeky baking ideas and tutorials. It was Nerdy Nummies that gave me the idea of putting the rainbow in the cake itself and not just the decoration. I had a rough idea of where I thought I was going with the cake, and started baking.
I bought new food colours and was really impressed with how vivid they were in the cake. They were ProGel professional grade colours by Rainbow Dust which were available in a variety of shades in my local Hobbycraft store. I baked vanilla sponge for one tier. I would normally use a chocolate mud cake for a good solid base tier but I wanted to stick to the rainbow theme and I didn’t think the colours would take in a mud cake. So I tried making it with white chocolate instead. We still haven’t yet cut into the layer so I’m not sure how it turned out. It seemed a much stickier cake when I took it out of the baking tin and I think it’s probably rather sweet with maybe a fudgy texture. It was solid enough though and coloured well too.
Once I had my cakes I thought a bit more about what to do with them. I wanted to make a piñata cake out of one of the tiera, filling it with Skittles. Instead of cutting a round hole in the cake I decided a square cut-out could be used to make a question block as a top tier. At this point my design took a bit more shape and I sketched out what I was planning to do, though still without any fine details.
I crumb coated all the cakes with a white chocolate buttercream, (an essential step!) then had to send Mr Jack out for more supplies before covering each with a second layer of buttercream and leaving them to set in the fridge overnight.
All the fondant work happened on Saturday morning. To be perfectly honest, I really don’t enjoy covering cakes in fondant. Rolling it out to the right size, lifting it up without it sticking to the work surface or stretching and breaking and then getting it smoothed onto the cake. I find it quite stressful. It didn’t help that the cold buttercream straight out of the fridge made the fondant really sticky once it was on the cake so I struggled to smooth it out as well as I wanted. Note to self: let the cakes come to room temperature before covering. I used pre-coloured navy fondant for the main covering, but marbled it with some home coloured purple to make a galaxy effect and make it go further as I realised I didnt have quite enough. I also rolled some small silver sugar balls into the fondant to look like constellations.
Once the cakes are covered, the fun begins! Mr Jack kindly drew out templates for the question block and the rainbow road, (which was more like a pinwheel though most of it was hidden by the tier above) and I found I had a perfectly sized star cutter for making the Mario stars. Everything else was done freehand. I googled for images of all the Mario items and just made what I fancied depending on what colours of fondant I had available. Usually I don’t show the cake to the birthday child til it’s done, but I couldn’t easily keep the boys out of the kitchen all day, so I ended up with lots of requests for things. Pumpkin particularly wanted Bo-bombs and Pickle was keen to see Koopa shells.
(I had hoped to make some cake pop Koopa Shells as well, as I’d seen a good tutorial on Nerdy Nummies. I got as far as making the cake pop balls but I ran out of time to dip and decorate them, so they’re still sitting naked in the fridge!)
I made as many Mario items as I could but ultimately ran out of time before having to leave for the party so I filled in a few gaps with some extra stars and called it finished.
The kids loved it, especially when they saw the rainbow cake inside and then the skittles poured out. They descended on it like vultures and would have stripped it of every fondant character if I hadn’t had my wits about me!
Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to take any pictures while we were at home so I took as many as I could while we were at the party venue, but they’re not the best. Here’s the Rainbow Road/pinwheel which I only got a photo of after the cake was taken apart.
The adults were impressed too and I’ve already had one person ask me to make a cake for their child’s birthday in December. I really don’t think I could do this for anyone else though. I love being able to create something like this out of love for my children, but I don’t think anyone could pay me enough to endure the stress of it for someone I didn’t love as much! I’m quite glad I have six months before I do it all again for Pickle’s birthday!