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Feb 9, 2007 07:52 AM

Anniversary Cake: gold leaf? luster dust?

I'll be making an anniversary cake for my parents 50th party in a few months. I will need to feed around 70. I made a 3 tiered cake last year that fed 48 with a lot left over, so I'm reasonably comfortable about the basics.

My question is how to make it go with the golden anniversary theme. The cake last year would have been a disaster if the dinner had gone on 30 minutes longer. The buttercream got warm and started sliding off the cake. Because of that, I would like to do the cake in a chocolate ganache, and then decorate from there.

I think my color theme for the party is going to be more yellow/ivory/pale gold/brown than a metalic gold. I have ordered gobs of gold/yellow/ivory zinnia and sunflower seeds, and I'm crossing my fingers I can make them live and decorate thusly. So, I was thinking chocolate with some sort of gold luster dusted icing decorations. But I have NO experience with the stuff, and some concerns about decorating on top of ganache.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

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  1. The flowers are for room decorating, not the cake, right?

    Gold leaf will be more visible on a ganache than gold luster dust. If you were going to cover the cake in gold and wanted it to be visibly golden, I would say go with the gold leaf. But it's more expensive. I've never used it, so I'm not sure how easy (or hard) it is to apply and work with.

    If you just want the cake to have a shimmer so the cake looks chocolate with a golden "bronzing", luster dust will do nicely. I've used luster dust mixed with a tiny amount of vodka and it forms a more opaque "paint" for decorating. I used it to write Happy Birthday on a ganache frosting. Actually, that might give you a nicer media than just dusting on the dry powder. A little goes a long way, so you could spread ganache on a practive cake or sheet pan, let it dry a bit, and then practice to see what you like best and not worry about wasted cost.

    Good luck! I'm always in awe of people who can bake for more than 10 people at a time (that's my limit!).

    1. What about using transfer paper w/ the gold design, like this:

      This cake is excellent, too.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chowser

        Funny you brought this up now because I just made 2 cakes for a 50th birthday party last weekend, and they both had a gold theme thanks to the gold=50 idea. To incorporate the theme on the white cake (vanilla poundcake, cream cheese buttercream and black raspberry jam between the layers...crumb coated in the cream cheese buttercream and iced in a white chocolate poured ganache) I used gold in several different forms. First, I used gold transfer paper on a band around the outside of the cake. The gold cocoa butter images don't show up very well on a white chocolate background (it looks yellow) but the design was still pretty impressive. Then I dusted both gold luster dust and gold pearl luster powder on the top of the cake.

        For the other cake (devils food cake, whipped chocolate ganache with cookie crumbles as a filling...crumbed in chocolate buttercream...iced in poured chocolate ganache) I again used the chocolate band with the transfer design on the outside of the cake and the gold was much more pronounced against the dark background. I sprinked both powders on the top of the cake, but also mixed the powders with a coarse grained decorating sugar which was nice because it helped to spread out the dusts a bit more (I had trouble getting them to disperse when not mixed with the sugar). I also decorated the cake with a fondant ribbon that I'd brushed with water and added the luster dust/sugar mixture to. The bow dried for about a week so was obviously rock hard by the time it was put in place. Overall, I liked the look of the chocolate cake much more than the white cake. Plus, though the whipped chocolate ganache that filled the chocolate cake was cream based and thus not incredibly stable on its own, the poured chocolate ganache on the outside of the cake definitely helped keep it stable while it sat out at the party. So if you've had problems in the past with cakes sliding around on buttercream, you are totally going in the right direction by choosing ganache (assuming your parents like chocolate that is)!

        I choose the luster dusts as opposed to the edible gold leaf because the leaf was not only really expensive but also only came in rather large quantities--I couldn't find any for less than $60. I purchased all of my stuff at, so I'd encourage you to check them out and plan your order now, as I haven't been able to find these types of products (transfer sheets, luster dust, etc) in any local stores.

        Good luck!

      2. Thanks, all for the replies. Just the kind of info I'm after. I never thought about x-fer paper. I'll need to get some and practice.

        Yes, the flowers are (hopefully) just for decorating the space, but I want the cake to have a yellow/gold/ivory/brown theme...not your typical shiney metalic gold, if you know what I mean. Of course, if I panic, or run out of time, they'll be stuck on the cake ;-)

        2 Replies
        1. re: danna

          If you want to practice beforehand with transfer paper, just get florist plastic (the outside of the bouquet) and use that.

          1. re: danna

            The only problem that I had with the transfer paper was getting it to wrap around the cake without any bunches. I was originally also worried about getting the paper off of the chocolate once the chocolate set, but this turned out to be totally easy--it peeled right off. I second the idea of practicing with florist paper as chowser mentioned below, since I really do think the hardest part is manipulating the chocolate covered paper in the way that you want. Good luck!

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