While in line to see Iron Man, my friend Shawn said, "I'd want an Indiana Jones birthday cake". I was pretty sure he wasn't hinting, but that didn't stop me from making it anyway. The cake making was complicated by two things:
1. Shawn is a very picky eater.
2. I didn't remember anything about Indiana Jones.
But I tried my best and it turned out semi-decent. More importantly, I learned a lot.
Many thanks to our friend Adrienne who was kind enough to take the pictures below.
When I think of Indiana Jones, the first thing I think of is brown. The second thing is that scene where the guy rips the other guy's heart out and it beats in his hand. I don't have the skills to make a beating heart cake topper (but hope to add it to my repertoire by Valentine's Day!), so I decided to make the cake brown using the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. The cake itself was a double recipe of the Crimson Velveteen Cupcakes from the same book. I topped the cake with a "whip" made of marzipan and wrote Happy Birthday Shawn in the closest I could get to the Indiana Jones font.
I used the Crimson Velveteen Cupcake recipe, not a regular cake recipe, because I already knew the birthday boy liked it. Oddly, I was short a tabelspoon of food coloring, but was still able to taste it in the cake. I've made this recipe as cupcakes many times and never experienced that before. It was really weird. Because it wasn't a cake recipe, the cakes turned out a little larger than they should have and the tops rounded. I was dumb and it didn't occur to me to trim them until the next day, so as you can see here, the cake was very lopsided and has a noticeable seam:
My first idea was to make a fedora (or heart full of cherry pie filling) out of home made chocolate clay, but after discussing it with Adrienne, I decided to stick with marzipan because I already knew Shawn liked it and a whip because it should be relatively easy. I used Wilton's coloring paste on it and it ended up the exact same color as the frosting. That wasn't good, so I added some black. Then it was 3 AM and I decided the color was good enough, so I worked on the shape, modeled after this picture.
For the writing, I printed out the Happy Birthday and tried to trace it onto cardboard using a Xacto knife. Unfortunately, I don't have any hand-eye coordination, so Adrienne had to trace out the stencil for me instead. I thought that if I frosted the whole cake, then put the stencil on top of it, I'd ruin the frosting, so I left a blank area for the stencil, which I filled in using a pastry bag and some light yellow royal icing. I then went over it with some orange food coloring on my finger, then red over that. I intended on using a small knife to frost between the letters, but once I was done, I knew that'd never work and ended up with a naked stripe across the cake. Next time, I'll definitely frost the whole thing, do the stencil, then just smooth the defects in the frosting as best as I can.
As you can see, it totally needed more filling:
The final thing I learned making this cake: brown marzipan looks like a turd. D'oh!
Thankfully, that was my last cake for June. As far as I know, July will be a month of rest. Then I hope to bake for two or three people in August, depending on who lets me honor their birthday in pastry fashion.