Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A successful surprise 90th party, complete with cake and cupcakes

Operation Surprise 90th Birthday Party: complete success!

This Saturday, after working 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. (on four hours of sleep!) I hopped in a car full of cupcakes, a cake, my clothes and my cat and headed to the Brookville Hotel in Abilene for a surprise party for my grandma. She turned 90 last week, and a whole bunch of family gathered at the restaurant, where she and my grandpa celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary when I was 6. This time it was my family, my uncle's family and a multitude of my dad's cousins there to celebrate.

This is easily one of my favorite places in the world to eat, even better when filled with family. Dad had told Grandma that it was just them and my stepmom Cathie going to dinner. She walked into the room and saw a table full of about 2o family members and was shocked, then immediately asked how Dad got us all together. He' just sneaky, I guess :)

After dinner, everyone drove back to Salina to my dad's house. There we ate the treats I'd made in the days before. I made two kinds of cupcakes: red velvet (at Dad's request) and screwdriver cupcakes, which is Grandma's favorite alcoholic drink.

The red velvet was simple, my favorite Martha Stewart recipe. They always end up light and fluffy and wonderful. The cream cheese frosting is excellent as well.

The screwdriver cupcakes weren't too shabby either. I got the recipe from Booze Cakes, which I got a few months ago. It called for coconut in the cupcake, but I'm anti-coconut, so I left it out. The cupcake ended up tasting like Trix to me. The frosting recipe, on the other hand, was a disaster. Just goes to show that I should just follow the recipe I know works and flavor it accordingly. It basically gave me orange-vodka flavored soup. Yech. I also candied orange peels to go on top.

Together, they looked pretty snazzy, I think. :)

Then was the birthday cake. I made a couple layers of square cake from my favorite yellow cake recipe. I froze it overnight and then decorated it super late the night before the party. I frosted it with buttercream and then did my first experiment with fondant, the bow. The night before, I rolled it out and dyed it (and my fingers too!) and then cut it into strips, which I formed into loops and let set. After frosting the cake, I attached the loops to make a bow, then frosted down by the cake board, and voila! My first attempt at a decorated cake! I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. And I'm going to count it as completing one of my baking goals. It's not a cake totally covered in fondant, but it's on there, so I think it works.

Grandma was too. It was incredible to have everyone in town. That picture is four of my dad's cousins with my grandma. They live all over Kansas and Oklahoma and came down for this one day! It's also pretty incredible that Grandma is 90 and still doing well.

So I've spent the weekend being lazy with Grandma, eating my favorite Salina food and watching old movies. Pretty sure none of them we've watched were made after 1954 (The Philadelphia Story, Harvey, White Christmas and Singin' in the Rain). It's been a super relaxing break, and having my kitty cat here with me has been entertaining as well. He's currently complaining that I've shut him in the TV room with us.

Ultimately, the best thing I got from this weekend: I am very lucky to still have my wonderful Grandma around. I was also very lucky to see so many family members this weekend (that's my uncle on the left; he lives in Illinois and I don't see him often). So for my Thanksgiving break, I am thankful for all that.


  1. fantastic, brenna! i always love your creations :) love that cake. and cupcake photography --- A+ :P

  2. The bow on the cake is stunning! And you didn't mention what you did differently, but the icing on the red velvet cupcake is SO pretty, too. Looks just like a rose!

  3. wow, you grandma looks like a wonderful lady - full of fun. I am sure she was overjoyed by the surprise and by the amazing cupcakes!!

  4. I used the Booze Cakes recipe as well. Icing was terrible, so I had to add MUCH more conf sugar and some cornstarch. What recipe did you substitute?

  5. I ended up having to put in a bunch more powdered sugar and then just sort of screw with it till it tasted okay. If I make these again, I'm using my go-to frosting recipe and ditching that one.


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