Sometime in the last few years I saw an Oregon Trail birthday cake. You know, the DOS game. Remember?
I can’t find the link to the cake anymore, but it got me thinking about making an Oregon Trail cake for my sister-in-law Krista’s 30th birthday. She’s from Oregon, so…it seemed like a good idea. It actually seemed like an awesome idea right up until I tried making it.
For whatever reason, I decided to do decorations using candy melts. I’m not sure what logic told me those would be the easiest or the prettiest. I did learn from experience that candy melts are neither easy nor pretty, at least for what I was trying to do. Looking back, I realize I ought to have spent a few months learning how to work with fondant.
But, I didn’t. I spent two days figuring out how do to the cake with candy melts.
I started by making some templates.
Then I baked two very tall cake layers.
It was a messy process. Luckily I did it at my mother-in-law’s house – she has two ovens and a dishwasher!
I wanted to decorate the entire top of the cake somehow, and after looking through a lot of Oregon Trail screenshots I chose this view of Willamette Valley:
Here I encountered the major problem with my candy melt approach. My template looked amazing, but it became obvious that the piece itself would not.
The Romgi was really helpful (he did most of the cake-baking) and suggested that I do this part upside-down, so it would be a single smooth piece when I finished. That probably sounds confusing. It will make sense in a minute, I hope.
For frosting, I planned to do a simple chocolate buttercream, which was scrapped when I realized how little time I had. As a compromise between homemade frosting and Pillsbury canned frosting, I bought some chocolate buttercream from a bakery. It was such a light color that we probably ought to have added coloring, but didn’t. Oh well.
Here’s the cake completely put together:
The Romgi also did the frosting on the cakes, and did a way better job than I would have.
See how the Willamette Valley-esque part is all one smooth piece? I pictured it being a little more detailed, and vibrant. I also meant for the “i” in “Krista” to be slightly more centered so I could put a single candle there. Sigh.
We got the cake safely to the party.
And Krista knew what it was supposed to be! Purple mountains, oxen and wagons, green trees…she said it was instantly recognizable to her, as an Oregon native, as Willamette Valley. Maybe she was just being nice. But it helped.
Happy Birthday, Krista!