My baby turned SEVEN this past weekend. This is an especially poignant time for me as we’ve been TTC (trying to conceive) for a while now with ZERO luck (even with the help of a very fancy doctor with a very fancy title and a very fancy price tag). *sniff* I’m wondering if each day is the last I will have of this age…
Anyway… we celebrated SEVEN in a big way (or at least with a BIG cake). Mama spent two days creating the Giant Panda Birthday Cake Masterpiece and amazingly enough, I held back the tears as it was destroyed in a matter of moments. See, I do have my big girl pants on. 🙂
I was searching the web for ideas to make panda invitations and a panda cake. I had a general idea of how I thought I could create a 3D panda cake… but I was hoping to find some confirmation on the world wide web… AND I did! I came across a cute little first birthday cake made by a doting auntie… I emailed the mama blogger and asked if she knew how auntie made the cake, and what do you know? I got a response back! And my suspicion was correct… it was made with the mini bear 3D pan by Wilton.
Anyone that knows me, knows I don’t do things small… so I bought the full size bear pan and went to work.
What I knew… 1. I’d never made a 3D cake using a mold before (although I’d made some pretty cool cakes). 2. It needs to be gluten free and GF doesn’t respond the same as traditional baked goods. 3. I only had 48 hours to complete my project. 4. The kids make me nuts when I’m attempting something like this and I’m not a very patient, calm, loving Mama under this kind of stress.
I bought a total of 14 gluten free cake mixes… 2 containers of Spectrum Organic Vegetable Shortening… 6 pounds of pure cane powdered sugar… 6 boxes of Jello pudding… 3 sheets of sugar paper… 2 Wilton icing color jars… 2 dozen organic eggs… a canister of cocoa powder… a $25.00 bear cake pan… and a myriad of other baking ingredients.
This was not a cheap undertaking… but my baby is worth it.
My first bear flopped… and I was nearly in tears worrying that this wasn’t going to work. What I learned: Gluten free vanilla cake mixes are not sturdy enough for a 3D mold (even with added pudding mix). I salvaged the broken bear, sealed him up in a plastic baggie and stashed in the freezer… later we will make some GF cake balls. All I could think was “that’s $10.00 in cake mixes wasted!”. (I’ve been a bit emotional with all the infertility meds rushing through my veins.)
Thankfully, my second bear… made of two gluten free chocolate cake mixes (with no added pudding) turned out perfect. I baked it 20 minutes longer than the pan directions suggested… and I followed the cooling/venting instructions to a T, but then I allowed it to continue to cool resting in the back of the pan for a few extra hours (not overnight though because moisture was collecting and I was afraid it would turn to mush). I also baked 2-12 inch cake rounds (think wedding cake tier), one in chocolate and one in vanilla.
I wrapped up all the cakes in plastic wrap and allowed them to rest on the counter overnight.
The next day was spent layering and frosting the cake. The bear was time intensive… and at times, I was thinking “why oh why didn’t I get the mini bear?”. In the end, it was worth all the effort.
The outside of the bottom cake is covered in sugar paper, so this cake is 100% edible with the exception of the popsicle sticks stuck in the cake beneath panda to support her.
I should have planned out the writing a bit better as it didn’t fit as I’d liked… but by then I was tired and my hands were black from the icing bag leaking all over me. 🙂
Happy 7th Birthday to the most vivacious, loving, adorable little panda bear a mama could ask for! Kelsey Anne- January 21, 2005.