I love to travel, I love to bake, and I love Pinterest. I can't tell you how excited I got when I read that Southwest Airlines was having a cake baking/decorating contest through Pinterest to celebrate their 41st birthday. The winner receives two roundtrip tickets anywhere Southwest flies! Not only that, the winner gets to be a guest blogger on their blog site! Scoop me off the floor because I'm weak in the knees!
For those of you who are interested in the contest, here's my Pinterest pin that links to all of the rules: http://pinterest.com/pin/216383957066776757/
I first heard about the contest on Tuesday, June 12, the day after it started. I sat down and considered a million and one ideas, and I settled on two. You see, you can enter as many times as you want, as long as you have a unique cake each time.
My first idea was to make an airplane cake. No, I'm not talking about putting a picture of an airplane on a cake. I decided to carve a 3D Southwest airplane out of a cake! My plan also involved decorating it in fondant. Now, I've never carved a cake before, and I've never made or used fondant. The challenge made me more determined.
The first step was to bake the cake itself. I dug around for a recipe and got to baking straight away. Oliver had a great time helping me bake, but the cake was a total flop. The cake was so soft and moist that it wouldn't really hold together. As it cooled, it sunk in the middle. There was no way I could carve it into an airplane.
Rather than waste another half dozen eggs, I decided just to go to the supermarket and buy a $1 box of cake mix. It turned out much firmer, which is exactly what I wanted for carving. I finished baking the second cake before bedtime on day one. As it baked, Oliver and I got to work on mixing the fondant. Most fondant recipes aren't vegetarian-friendly, but I finally found one that called for corn syrup instead of gelatin or marshmallows. It held together well and readily absorbed the gel food coloring I'd purchased at the craft shop.
First attempt is on the left, and second attempt is on the right:
Here are my fondant colors. I call that large tub of blue, "Southwest Airlines blue."
The following morning, day two, I decided to tackle the carving. The task loomed before me, but I was excited to see what I could do. I read online that beginners should always freeze their cakes before carving. It makes them less crumbly.
To be honest, I couldn't believe how easily I was able to carve my cake into a plane. OK, so it might not be perfect, but I thought it was really good for both never having done anything like that before and for doing it in the 30 minute window that was my baby's morning nap.
Post-carving, I stuck the cake back in the freezer. When both of my kids were down for their afternoon naps, I pulled the cake back out and lightly frosted it. Apparently, frosting the cake first helps hold down any crumbs, and it gives the fondant something to stick to later.
As soon as the kids fell asleep for the night, I tackled the cake decorating. It was so much fun working with fondant. I was able to cut, paste, and smooth it out relatively easily. Andrew took a photo of me applying the yellow icing for the detail.
I was up until nearly midnight, which, for a mom of two little ones, is really late. I can't remember the last time I was up so late when it wasn't for a nighttime feeding. I think it was worth it, though. Here are a few photos of the finished product:
I popped the cake back into the freezer to hold its shape for the following day: Thursday, my third day working on the contest, and the day I set aside for the photo shoot. My plan was to take the cake outside and make it "fly" for Oliver. I thought he'd love it. I was right! What I didn't count on was how hard it would be to make the cake "fly" for him while still being able to get a good photo of it.
Here's the cake flying. As you can see, Oliver loved watching it fly. However, you can't see my cake very well.
I got really into the effects of making the cake fly. A bunch of neighbor kids came by to watch me fly my cake plane.
Ultimately, I decided the plane had better fly lower to the ground to get a good photo of it. Oliver enjoyed that because he could reach his finger in to eat some of the powdered sugar clouds. With over two dozen photos to choose from, I finally settled on the last one of the group.
Here is my entry to celebrate Southwest Airline's 41st birthday. Happy Birthday, Southwest! I hope you have as much fun celebrating as I have!
My entry pin: http://pinterest.com/pin/216383957066791786/