My friend Terri's youngest little boy, Cameron, just turned 4. He came up to me at church and asked me to "pwease" make him a chocolate Pirates of the Caribbean cake. How could I refuse?! Anyway, I called Terri the week of the party to ask what pirate-y image he would like best - treasure chest, jolly roger, pirate ship, Jack Sparrow, treasure map, or something else - the possibilities are endless, you know. She thought he'd like Jack Sparrow or a ship.
Somehow, I got the inspiration to do a transfer of the face of Jack Sparrow. I had it all planned out, and it wasn't a difficult task. Or shouldn't have been.
First, when I baked the cake, I deliberately added a second mix of batter so that I would have one tall cake instead of baking two layers. I was trying to be efficient (read: lazy). When I took the cake out of the oven, it looked absolutely perfect. I let it cool for a few minutes before turning it out of the pan, and when I came to release it, the entire center had caved in. It truly looked like a volcano. So, I sliced off the top half and baked another regular cake layer. That set me back a few hours.
Then, I started decorating. I iced the cake with a crumb layer, and then also iced the sides of the cake in white. Then I colored the icing for the top of the cake a parchment-y tan color. I had found an awesome pumpkin-carving stencil of Jack Sparrow's face online.
- So, I tried it in black piping gel as a transfer. No luck. Had to scrape it off and re-ice the cake.
- Then I tried it with black icing. Still nothing. Not enough of the icing would "stick" to the cake icing. Scrape it again and repair the icing.
- Tried poking the stencil with a toothpick to play connect-the-dots. But when I removed the stencil, I couldn't tell which dots went together. Roll the icing smooth again.
- Tried again with black piping gel, but only outlined the shapes. Still not working, and it's 2 a.m.
- Decided the design was too detailed for caking. Printed out another stencil of a pirate ship.
- Went to bed and prayed that it would work in the morning, and I'd have enough time to get it all done.
And, of course, after I finished it, my brilliant son suggested that I should've traced the Jack Sparrow face onto some rice paper I have, instead of trying to transfer it, because the rice paper just "melts" into the buttercream icing after you set it on top of the cake. You know, come to think of it, THAT probably would've worked... AAArrrgh!!!