Last weekend, one of my favourite Melbourne bands, Juke Kartel, returned home to Australia over Easter and decided to treat us with a little tour. Amongst the gigs was an exclusive houseparty scheduled on the same day as my birthday. I really couldn't think of a better way to spend my first night as a 24-year-old, so I grabbed tickets straight away.
The invite said to feel free to bring a plate. Plate… cake… same thing, yeah? Besides, there's some unwritten rule about birthdays involving cake, so I really was fulfilling my duty in bringing one along.
When mulling over what sort of cake to make for them, I started looking for old JK logos (I swear I remember one with wings), but could find nothing online. They're one of those bands that don't have a lot of symbols or imagery associated with them: it's just the boys and their music. But on their merch store they had this phoenix.
It's the same one for which a black silhouette was used on the cover of their song "Brightest Star", a song they wrote for the mother of their drummer, Jay, who was battling breast cancer. It was the only right choice for this cake.
Similarly, the only right choice for a crowd-pleasing cake was chocolate. I used the same recipe that can be found for numerous chocolate cakes I've done, here's where one of them are.
I decided to try my hand at a royal icing transfer. The only other time I'd tried this, it didn't turn out well. So I made it three days in advance to give it plenty of drying time. The second I picked it up and knew it wasn't going to end well, and well is not where it ended.
It more than broke. So I decided to abandon that and stick with what I know: fondant.
I stayed up late the night before, making the fondant phoenix, as well as adding the final touches to my own birthday cake. This phoenix took me well into the hours of the morning: I turned 24 making this cake.
I probably should have made it straight onto the cake like I normally do. But I didn't know how it would work as I'd never done anything like this before. So I made it on acetate, let it dry overnight and put it on the cake the next day. Again, a lot of broken feathers were suffered, but it was more repairable than the royal icing bird, so I stuck with the fondant.
It turned out looking more like a cockatoo than a phoenix.
The feathers were a lot of fun to do, though. It's something I'd like to experiment with in future, so I'll have to look for excuses to do birdie cakes.
The night was such a fun night. The guys played three sets of acoustic awesomeness, including both covers and their own songs. It was a night of laughter, great company and even better music. Toby and Dale from the band first saw the cake when I arrived and tried to dump it in the kitchen without drawing any attention to myself. They were either really really impressed by it ["That is fucken ridic!"], or really really didn't want to hurt my feelings. Either way, they were really lovely about it. Right before the third set they brought it on stage with them. Toby said to the crowd that I'd said something along the lines of, "Whenever I make beautiful cakes no one eats them because they're too nice to look at," which is perhaps what I may have said if I had an ounce of self-confidence. But in reality he'd asked me how I feel about when people cut into the something I've spent such a long time making and I'd said how I find it therapeutic to see it being destroyed, and told a story of how my cousin never ate some cupcakes I made her because she couldn't bring herself to do it. But anyway, immediately after he said to the crowd, "Well we're gonna fuck this cake up." My favourite part. Toby cut the cake and then Adelle Anderson did an amazing job of cutting the entire thing into share-able slices whilst standing up, holding the cake board in one hand and the knife in the other. This was a dense10 inch cake on a 13 inch board, you guys. That's no mean feat. Kudos.
As for the cake itself, I was still in a food coma from my birthday lunch and my own cake earlier that day, so I didn't grab a slice. But it did steal a tiny bit of boyfriend's slice just to settle my oh-my-god-what-if-it-tastes-like-shit nerves. It was the best that recipe has ever tasted. The cake came out incredibly moist and chocolaty. Perhaps it's because the is the first time I didn't alter the quantities or cook it in a different pan. Phew!
My boyfriend took a super quick video of them with the cake. It ended when he turned around to dob me in after Toby asked where in the crowd I was. But here's 13 seconds of band and cake for you:
If you've never heard of the band until the post, do yourself a favour and check them out. They're an incredible act to watch live. After all these years local gigs, they're still one of my favourite bands to watch.
And just for the hell of it, here are the boys covering one of my absolute favourite songs in the world: