I still can’t believe that my grandfather turned 100 this year. To say he has lived an amazing and full life is an understatement. Even more amazing, he and my grandmother still live on their own in a house!
As his big birthday approached and the party planning was underway I knew I wanted to make him a special cake for the occasion. In deciding what to do for the design I had a few goals: 1) I wanted it to taste good and be easy to eat (he is 100 after all) so I didn’t want to cover it in fondant. 2) It needed to be easy to transport since I was traveling over state lines. 3) Most importantly I wanted it to represent his life.
Knowing that he loves chocolate I decided to cover the cake in ganache. As for the design I had always loved looking at old photographs that my grandmother would show me through the years. That gave me the idea to put edible images from his life around the cake. I wanted it to look kind of like a tree of his life with branches climbing the cake. I emailed back and forth with my aunt and uncle who were able to send me a number of photos, including one from when he was in the military, playing the saxophone (which he always loved), and one from when his name was added to the Veterans Wall of Heroes at Eisenhower park. They also suggested adding the Italian phrase for 100 years he had been mentioning often, Cent’Anni.
I had an edible image printer, but it was out of commission, so instead I ordered the edible images directly from Icing Images. They have the option to get them printed as circles which I really liked. To stabilize the images I mounted them on small circles of chocolate fondant. That made them easier to put on the cake and made them stand out more than if I had placed them directly on the ganache.
For the “tree” effect I used a nice bright green fondant and created vines by rolling in out in between two wooden dowels. This is a great trick to get nice even ropes. I used my fondant smoother to do the rolling. I had the vines weave around the entire cake and end at the top in the shape of a 100.
I attached each of the images with a little ganache. For the banner I cut out a piece of white fondant and let it dry a little before writing on it with a black edible marker. I then laid it out the cake while it was still flexible to give it some shape. At the party I placed the cake on a turntable so that guests could rotate it to see all the images.