Opus One Cake

Monday, May 2

It was my father-in-law’s birthday not that long ago so I decided to make him an Opus One cake. Not only because he is our families wine connoisseur, but also because we had talked about trying it some day ever since we had used Opus One wine crates for decorations at my wedding. Even though his birthday would have been a great opportunity to buy a bottle and celebrate, the $300-$500 price tags on the bottle kept me from doing it. One of these days we will buy one and try it. I’ll just have to make and sell a few more cakes in the mean time.

So here it is. It was a bit of a challenge for me to make but I think overall it was a successful cake. And like my husband always says, “it doesn’t matter how pretty it is if it doesn’t taste good”.   This one tasted great so I consider it a success!

The base of the cake (the crate) was made from a white almond sour cream cake and the bottle was made from a chocolate Kahlua cake. Both used a basic white butter cream frosting. I made the bottle first by layering two halves of a 9×13 cake. Then I just carved away.

One of the problems with carved cake is all the scraps that are thrown away. You would think that is was a good thing because you can eat as many as you want.  But in our house they seem to go straight to the trash. I need to come up with a recipe that uses them so I don’t have to waste so much good cake. Buddy on Cake Boss makes a crumb cake with his scraps, maybe I should try something like that one of these days. That’s just what we need around this house-more cake!

Here’s a tip: If you are having a hard time getting the round shape of the bottle carved, take a piece of cardboard and cut half a circle out of it. That way you can use it as a pattern and have an evenly round bottle from top to bottom.

When you are done cutting out the shape add a crumb coat of butter cream icing then cover it in fondant. I used black fondant to cover the cake. I don’t like to use it often since it has so much food coloring in it and doesn’t have the greatest taste. But when you need something to look black-black you will have to use it. There is no way of painting black onto white fondant and getting that deep black color.

Like I said the base was just a double layered white cake, cut to size and frosted.

After I covered the bottle in fondant I painted it with black gel frosting on it to give it a shine. That way it looked more like real glass.

The label is rolled fondant and the ink was food coloring painted on with a fine paintbrush.

The label was tricky because I had to had paint it without touching the rest of the cake and ruining it. I thought about painting the label separate from the cake but I couldn’t find a why to easily do it. Fondant dries quickly and becomes brittle, so I wouldn’t have been able to wrap it around the cake once it was dry without it breaking.

Once the label was painted I added fondant panels to the sides that I painted to look a little more like wood. White chocolate shavings added the finishing touch to the inside of the crate. So there you have it! Easy enough, right?

I do have to share a moment of truth though…I made a silly error that I thought I wouldn’t recover from. I almost ruined the cake. I was a couple hours away from needing the cake to be done but the fondant side panels were too soft to add to the box. For some reason they weren’t drying fast enough even though I made them the night before. So I decided to help them out…

I thought, “how do I dry things quickly?…I can put it in an oven on a low temp and dry it out that way. That’s what I do for my sons clay sculptures.” Thinking I was brilliant I put them into the oven. A couple minutes later it dawned on me…Marshmellows melt when they get warm and my panels are made from marshmellow fondant!!!!

It was too late, they were soft. So I threw them outside in the cold to see if I could harden them up. It worked but they were now completely glued to the cookie sheets!!! With only an hour left I didn’t have time to make new ones so I had to some how pry them off and hope for the best. And by some miracle, I was able to get them off. A bit cracked and not so perfect looking but at least I could use them.

So here’s my Tip of the day: Don’t ever put fondant in the oven!!! Unless you want a gooey mess.

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