We did a little back and forth about what kind of cake she'd like (she apparently also thinks I'm a lot more talented than I really am - she had some pretty high expectations where this cake was concerned), and finally, we reached an agreement.
A panda bear.
Sounds easy enough, right? And I found the most adorable looking panda cake right here, and it looked fairly easy, so panda it was, Gold help me.
So after a trip to the grocery store and to Michael's to find 8" round cake pans, here it is - the Panda Cake!
I started off with baking 2 round cakes and 1 13" x 9" cake. I did them the night before and popped them into the freezer overnight (they're easier to cut that way.)
One round cake is Panda's head. The other was cut up to make Panda's face. Part of the 13" x 9" cake was also cut up for paws.
Yes, that is black icing. I had black food coloring paste left from Lightning, so I mixed it into vanilla icing. I probably should have stuck with the original recipe and used chocolate icing - the vanilla used up an entire jar of food coloring. And this is real frosting - I played with the idea of using fondant, which I might do next time to give it a much smoother appearance. This bear looked a little... fuzzy... by the time it was all frosted.
After shaping all panda body parts, I spread a thin layer of icing on everything to seal in crumbs. Then the whole mess went back into the fridge for an hour to set.
Now the panda has all his parts. His crumbs are sealed in, so it's time to really frost him. I started off piping black icing to delineate the borders for the black, and then white icing to delineate those borders. Since I don't have a piping bag, I made one using small Ziploc sandwich bags with the corner cut off. Effective, but kind of messy and, at one point with each color and each bag (I used 2 or 3 per color), the pressure caused the zipper to pop open and frosting to ooze out the top. And yes, after playing with the black icing, my hands were purple again, just like with Lightning. I scrubbed them to pink, and the rest of the color was gone by that night. Whew.
After piping in the color, I filled in the outlines with frosting as well. The front legs are just frosting on top of frosting (my teeth hurt just thinking about how thick that frosting it) to give the illusion of depth and make them look like they exist. Ahh... the power of optical illusion!
Next came his face. I piped in black, smooshed it down with halved marshmallows. The pupils are brown M&Ms. His nose and mouth are piped in frosting as well, as is the white on his paws. At this point, I'd been working on the cake for about 4 hours and I was feeling a little... punchy... so I gave him crossed eyes. I wish I'd taken a picture of it because he really looked demented. But I didn't, so just try to imagine this already kind-of psycho looking panda with crossed eyes. :)
And here he is - ready to be served and the Girl was happy with him. My mother in law was a little skeptical about the black icing, but everyone seemed to enjoy it and there was much chuckling over the fact that the black icing gave us all Goth smiles.
My son's already throwing out suggestions for his next birthday cake. Thank God I've got until October to really worry about it!