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Cake for a 50th birthday party

I've been asked to bake a cake for a friend's surprise 50th birthday party on Superbowl Sunday. While I already have the flavor combinations down, (I'll be making two cakes since she is a vanilla poundcake fan but everyone else seems to prefer chocolate), I'm not sure what to do about decorating the cake. (Though there'll be two cakes I'm planning on just having the chocolate cake look "nice" whereas the vanilla cake will really serve as her birthday cake. However, if anyone had any ideas for some sort of theme that would work on both cakes, that'd be great too.) Basically, this individual doesn't really have any strong hobbies or interests that I feel I could use in the decoration scheme, isn't into football meaning I can't play off of the Superbowl, and is simply out of my age range (I'm 25), meaning I don't really know what is appropriate for a 50 year old's cake. Any suggestions, specific or general, would be much appreciated. I should note that while I do a huge amount of baking and a fair amount of cake decorating, my decorating skills at times don't match my ambition, so I'd prefer decorating ideas that might take a lot of planning, but that don't necessarily involve intricate details requiring a overly steady hand which I don't have. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Not a theme but chocolate poured onto transfer paper always looks elegant. How about something like this (decoration, not the recipe, though it is delicious):

    http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/rec...

    I don't know about the poundcake, but you could follow w/ the same fruits. And a raspberry sauce on the side for both (I just watched a rerun of When Harry Met Sally the other night).

    2 Replies
    1. re: chowser

      Thanks for your suggestion. I think something along the lines of the transfer paper would be good because it would be beautiful but not tacky, or resembling a cake suited more for a child's birthay.

      Any other suggestions along this line, or any line, would be greatly appreciated...thanks in advance!

      1. re: chowser

        Chowser...one more question. Not sure if you know anything about transfer paper, but if you do, can you tell me if you can use white chocolate as opposed to milk/dark chocolate with the transfer paper? In an effort to keep this cake "white" I think this could be a great alternative. I'm just not sure if chemically speaking the white chocolate will take the transfer properly. Thanks!

      2. When I turned 50 all I cared about was that someone else made me a cake--in my case, chocolate cake with ganache, which I thought was beautiful. In fact, I much preferred that over the cake a friend of mine got on her 50th, which had the "funny" message "50? It's all downhill from here!" on it. She was not amused. I'd keep it simple.

        1. Might be cool to make a cake and stud the frosting with candies from the '60s. You can get them here:

          http://www.oldtimecandy.com/decade-60...

          2 Replies
          1. re: Bostonbob3

            Bostonbob,
            That is actually a really good idea. While I was more thinking along the lines of formal as opposed to funny, the "funny" that I was looking to avoid was more along the lines of Elizzie's comment, and not the candy suggestion. I'll do some investigating on the old time candy website to see if this is a possibility, since I think there is a lot of potential with this idea. Thanks!

            1. re: Laura D.

              Even if you don't use the candy for decorating, it might be cute to have it scattered around the cake on the table. Especially since some of the candy is difficult to use on cake (like pixy stix). Also, most of this candy can easily be found at local stores, probably cheaper than ordering. You could also make a cute lollipop tree using blow-pops as an arrangement.

              And of course play some favorite tunes from then!

          2. No problem, Laura D. Since I'm closer to 50 than I am to 25 (by a year mind you!), it just seemed like a fun idea.

            It might also be fun to have the '60s candies as favors, or displayed around the base of the cake so everybody gets the "concept" immediately.

            Let us know what you end up doing, and how the birthday boy or girl reacted.

            1. A super-simple idea, which would look nice and sophisticated for a 50-yr old, and which always looks impressive when I do it for birthday cakes, is to use a contrasting colored icing to make a spiral design across the top of the cake. Then then use a toothpick to drag several intersecting lines across the diameter of the cake thru the frosting, so that the result is the kind of lacy, loopy pattern you usually see on the top of a napoleon pastry. Kind of like this: http://www.lecentral.com/nepolan.jpg but in concentric circles.

              2 Replies
              1. re: sugarcookie

                I agree this could look really good. If I were to do this, I'm thinking that gold could be a good contrasting color, since 50th "things" are generally associated with gold. Gold typically isn't my color of choice, but I wonder if in this situation it could work really well. Thanks for the suggestion.