I recently had the great honor of making a surprise birthday cake for the Swedish Ambassador's Chef, Frida, whom I've become friends with through the Swedish community here. This is an incredibly talented woman who, before the age of 30, had already served her amazing dishes to both royalty and celebrities. No pressure, Eve!
Frida has always wanted to go to Hawaii, so her closest friends had planned a surprise Hawaii themed birthday party at Archipelago, a cool new tiki bar here in D.C. I was asked to make a cake to go with the theme, and the result was this coconut cake with a coconut and pineapple filling.
I had so much fun working with the design on this one, which included a few new "firsts" for me. The bottom tier is hand painted palm leaves on fondant. I used edible dusts that I mixed with vodka to create a watercolor consistency, and it definitely gave me an itch to try to paint more cakes. The second tier is a fondant cake that has been covered with confetti sprinkles, and then painted with a mixture of gold dust and vodka using a painting brush. Now, before you think "that's one boozy cake!", I should let you know that the alcohol evaporates and leaves no taste at all.
The Hibiscus flowers are made out of gum paste, which is a sturdier, more elastic and faster drying version of fondant. I got a book by Alan Dunn, called Sugar Flower Skills, that has detailed step-by-step instructions. It is a little intimidating at first, but I can't wait to learn more!
Once again, Happy 30th Birthday, Frida!