by Shannon Horton
(Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Finished Strawberry Meadow Grass Cake Design
Piping the grass frosting in progress
View of the layers once cut into
1.Where the idea came from?
Digging through my kitchen cabinets I found my heart shaped cake pans I had forgotten about. I was inspired to find a fun way to make use of them.
With Spring in full bloom and Summer fast approaching, I decided the hearts could be used to make a strawberry. However, the cake wouldn’t be large enough if it was only made from the heart pan. I compared the heart pan to my basic 9×13 pan and they stacked nicely.
I imagined a fresh ripe strawberry lying on a bed of grass. I’ve never made anything so complicated before and had no idea how to make grass! I took a trip to Michael’s and to my local cake decorating supply shop and asked for advice. The salespeople were really friendly and gave me pointers and advice on what tips I could use.
2.What was the occasion?
My little girl is turning 1 year old and she is a precious gift to our whole family.
She has grown from a tiny helpless baby into a sweet happy toddler in what seems like only a few months! She has breathed new energy and life into her elderly grandparents. She brings joy and delight to her three Aunties who do not have children of their own. And for my husband and I, she is a daily wonder to cherish.
With only a month to go before her birthday, I wanted to make a really special cake to be the centrepiece of the birthday party.
The cake had to be really tasty as well as interesting, fun and whimsical. I wanted to wrap all my favorite flavors up in one creation that would symbolize this special little girl and how much we all love her.
My imagination was swept away with the idea of a delicate sun-ripened berry nestled in meadow grass. The rich chocolate cake is a symbol for her dark hair and dark eyes, so much like mine. The sweet airy chocolate mousse filling is for her bubbly giggles when her daddy makes silly faces.
The white cake with a hint of strawberry is for her rosy cheeks and perfect baby skin.
I had to make each element separately over a period of weeks, as life with a little one is very busy. I chose recipes for cake and frosting that would freeze well. I sent my dear husband and darling daughter to visit the grandparents for the day while I assembled and decorated the cake.
I was really thrilled with how it turned out and especially had fun making the grass. It kept well overnight in the fridge and traveled nicely to the party location the next day. Everyone was really blown away by the cake and was amazed at how much work I had gone to. The grass seemed to draw the most surprise.
3. Decorating tips
I used a small heart pan to bake layers for the strawberry shape, stacked on top of cake layers from a basic 9×13 pan. I made both chocolate and white layers. The chocolate layers are a basic one-bowl quick cake with a dash of instant coffee for a bit more flavour.
The white layers are ?gold cake? from the Joy of Cooking which helped use up all the egg yolks left over from the frosting. I added couple drops of strawberry flavouring in the batter as well (LorAnn Oils).
The filling between the layers is a rich and marvellous Chocolate Mousse Frosting, also from the Joy of Cooking. The frosting for the strawberry and the meadow grass is a classic Swiss Meringue Buttercream. The frosting was just sweet enough, light and easy to work with, both for piping and smoothing.
I used tinted buttercream (Standard Leaf Green, Cake Craft paste) for the crumb coat on the base rectangle. I tinted more buttercream for the crumb coat on the strawberry (Wilton Christmas Red, gel).
I finished the frosting of the strawberry by hand with a spatula. Then I piped yellow tinted buttercream for the ?1? on top of the green crumb coat, using a #16 open star tip. I switched to a #4 round tip to outline the ?1? in yellow, put seeds on the strawberry, and write the name. To finish, I used a #233 multi-opening tip to pipe the meadow grass all over the sides and remaining top surface. I snuck a couple dandelions in the grass with the yellow frosting and the #16 star tip.
I left it out at room temperature for an hour before serving. It cut nicely and tasted fantastic! The hint of strawberry flavouring in the white cake really added to the visual theme. All the family and guests really enjoyed their slices several asked for seconds!