Sunday, February 5, 2012

The only thing sweeter than Taylor Swift is the buttercream...

I was asked to make a cake for a girl that is a big Taylor Swift fan. I'd made her brother a birthday cake not too long ago. I guess it went over well because they asked for one for the big party which included a mess of girls, a movie theater, and lunch.

Seeing as how the hubbin is a HUGE Taylor Swift fan (seriously, he puts most 13-year-old girls to shame with this), I got him to help me plan this cake. When I think of iconic Taylor Swift, I immediately think of her sparkly guitar.
That isn't my picture. I stole borrowed it from MTV. But it's such a cool guitar. I learned it is a Taylor guitar (fitting no?) that was specially created for the "Our Song" video. Apparently, it is a good guitar but must sound weird with all the sparklies all over it. But I decided my heart was set on making a guitar.

And good news! I actually got some shots of the process so you can see the crazy that goes through my head when I make these things.

My first job was to make the rhinestones to go on it. I figured that isomalt was the way to go. I priced buying some, but they're like $10 for 20 and I needed a metric crap ton of them. (Yes, that is the scientific measurement used for isomalt gems.) So off to my favorite cake store! I got a couple different types of candy molds to pick between.
 (My finger for scale)
I had initially planned to use one of the molds on either side of my finger, but since the guitar needed to be pretty small I ended up going with the ones on the top right part of the picture. Those were some seriously tiny gems.

Next step was to cook the isomalt. They make precooked sticks but they cost a whole lot more and I'm a confirmed cheapskate. And it was honestly pretty easy to do. Isomalt in a pan, add a little water (I used distilled per some suggestions on the interwebs), then heat till it hits hard crack stage. And don't burn the holy-living-crap out of myself in the process.

Isomalt is more stable than sugar, doesn't caramelize, and gets quite a bit hotter. Almost to the 340°F that it needed to be.
I didn't get pictures of the next step, but I griped about it a lot on Facebook. The molten isomalt goes into a silicon measuring cup that was easier to pour out of. Then I had to drop it one tiny drop by tiny drop into each of the holes in the mold. But if it cooled, it got too thick and the little drops became bigger little drops and overflowed the mold. So I'd stick it back into the microwave and melt it back down and then repeat. Over....and over......and over....and over....and over....................
You can see the weird tear drop shape of an overflowed mold. The gems on the plate were the first I tried so I started with the large ones and moved on to the tiny ones. You can see how much smaller the overflowed one is. That's the size of all the ones that went onto the cake.

Some of the good ones, with only a few bubbles.
I managed to burn my fingers about a brazillon times making these things. All things considered, I'd totally do it again. I'm hoping to learn how to make bubbles.

Cake planning! I found a website that had pictures of the Taylor guitar, printed it out real big and cut it out. I actually ended up shrinking it down some from this, but you see I was actually planning.

I went shopping for something to cover the cake board. I found this wrapping paper at Michael's and sent the hubbin a text that said "Does this color of pink make you think of Taylor Swift?" I got worried because the oils in the cake and frosting can bleed into some papers, so I put this back.

I found one of my favorite board covers at Target. This is a roll of Contact Paper that you use to line drawers and shelves with. It's water/grease proof and self-adhesive. Super easy to cover the board, particularly the rectangle one.

Here's the cake! I baked it in my big pan, then cut it in half and stacked it on top of each other. That was the easiest way to go about it. I actually thought I was going to need more cake (since I'd initially thought I would make it larger) and baked two of these. I cut the second one up, wrapped it in foil, and let the hubbin eat it. After a week, it was still surprisingly moist and flavorful. The mark of a great recipe.

The first step was the carve the guitar body out of the cake. I put the print out on top of the cakes and carved away. then I cut out the hole in the front and a place for the neck to go.

See how nicely they match?

Covered in white fondant and the hole filled in with black. The actual guitar is black, but I figured the sparkles would look nicer on a black background.

And the finished product!
I wrapped black fondant around the guitar body. That was actually the hardest part of the whole cake. I use Satin Ice in black and it's very soft and tore horribly as I was putting it on. Finally rolled it out on a sheet of wax paper. That added stability and kept the fondant from pulling. The gems were carefully placed one at a time. I may have complained about that on Facebook too.

The neck is cardboard covered in Rice Krispy Treats, then buttercream, then fondant. The struts are painted on with luster dust. The strings are just silver elastic string I found at Michael's. And because it seemed awful monochromatic with just the black and white, I added the birthday girl's name in pink.

Happy Birthday Ashley!


  1. Best. Cake. Everrrrrrr. and what a good step by step post! I'm so impressed!

  2. Awesome work! Always blown away by your creations!