Sometimes, what is most important about a cake is not how objectively beautiful it is, but how meaningful it is to the recipient. This cake hit the bullseye for Al’s 90th Birthday. Al’s daughter, Janet, contacted me as they were throwing Al a big birthday celebration at Alvin & Friends restaurant. She wanted a cake that would have meaning to him, but what would it be? After some brainstorming, we came up with the idea of putting words from the family describing Al all around the side of the cake. The words included the biographical (“dad,” “New Yorker,” etc.), characteristics (“punny,”, “mentor,” “helpful,” etc.) and even places he loves (“Paris,”, “Maine,” etc.). But it needed something more – something with punch. We settled on a hat, as Al is known for wearing his favorite British walking hat. This style of hat is made of woven tweed, and is a bit softer than a felt hat. I made Al’s hat — out of cake — to go on top of the round cake!
Both the hat cake and the round cake are made from chocolate cake, with a vanilla bean pastry cream (Al’s favorite) in the bottom cake and vanilla bean buttercream in the hat. Both are covered with ganache and then fondant. The hat is hand painted and has some texture to replicate the tweed. As you can see from these photos, the hat was a big hit with Al and his family! (Note Al’s actual hat is on the table next to the cake.) Happy 90th Birthday, Al! Looking at these photos of you, I cannot believe that you are 90 years young! May all your days be as happy, healthy and full of love as this day was for you.