Our good friend Tobe turns 40 in a couple of weeks, so his awesome wife Stacy threw him a party last night, and I made the cake. She gave me a couple of guidelines: Tobe is 1/2 German, and loves soccer, so she wanted to incorporate both of those elements. Then said she trusted me and gave me complete creative license. I told her that would be fine, and hung up the phone feeling so good that I was going to be able to do this for them, especially since Tobe has NEVER had a homemade birthday cake before.
Then I googled an image for the German flag, and I was a little shocked. The German flag is 3 stripes: black, red, and gold. If you know anything about making icing, you KNOW that black and red are the most difficult colors to produce, especially without adding so much coloring that it tastes bad. I considered using fondant, but I didn't want to cover the cake in fondant.
So...I guess this is where I'll have to admit to cheating just a little bit. Instead of spending hours trying to get those icing colors to come out red & black (instead of pink & grey), I used storebought Wilton icing. It comes in tubes or cans and is pre-colored. I discovered that the canned icing is thinner, but it tastes better. The tubed icing has kind of a weird aftertaste sometimes, but you can use regular decorator tips on them. I ended up using tubed black icing, and canned red icing, since it was just being spread smooth anyway.
I really had no idea what I would do as far as the cake design until it came down to the day I had to bake the cakes. I prayed for a last-minute inspiration, and I got it. A German flag with a soccer ball "bursting" through. I was happy that it was simple enough that I didn't have to be working on it "down to the wire" too. Especially since we had to drive an hour and a half to deliver it!
Despite those minor challenges, the cake was a huge hit. Tobe & Stacy loved it, and I had several people tell me how impressed they were. One lady asked me if I was a professional pastry chef; someone asked Stacy at which bakery she got the cake; and a few people thought that I should go into cake decorating as a business. For now, I'm happy just doing an occasional cake for friends and family. But, who knows? It's been 12 years since I took that cake decorating class at Michael's. It was definitely a good investment ($10), but maybe I should take Level 2 someday. Ha ha!