May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go. ~Irish Blessing
So the day is here, it’s St. Patrick’s Day! A time for Irish celebration, green beer, mischievous leprechauns and good old-fashioned Irish meals. Many people, especially those in the western world, know very little about the origins of this holiday. It is actually recognizing the life and death of the most recognized patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick.
Ok, a brief history….Saint Patrick was born in the 4th century into a wealthy family. His father was a Deacon and his grandfather was a Bishop of the Christian church. At the age of 16 he was kidnapped and taken to Ireland where he was sold as a slave. He fled from captivity to the coast after receiving instruction from God in a dream. Years later he returned to Ireland on his own as a Bishop where he wished to evangelize the Irish away from their polytheism beliefs. He used a 3-leaf clover to explain to them the Holy Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).
St. Patrick’s Day became an official public holiday in 1903. The day had already been celebrated around Europe by the Irish since the ninth centuries. In the mid-1990s the government of the Republic of Ireland set out to use St. Patrick’s Day to showcase the Irish culture. They did this by holding festivals. The first was in 1996 that lasted one day. It has evolved into a 5 day festival hosting over 1 million visitors! Pretty awesome! I would love to go to Ireland anytime of the year. One day…..
In honor of my Irish roots, the Irish everywhere, the beloved St. Patrick and naughty leprechauns, I made a special cake to celebrate this day.
- 2 6-inch round sponge or pound cake
- 3 8-inch round sponge or pound cake
- Buttercream icing…..A LOT of Buttercream. About 7-8 cups will be enough. Remember having too much is better than not having enough.
- Fondant in green, black, yellow
- Square cutters
- I used vanilla sponge cake. I just used a recipe I had, no big top secrets here. When constructing a cake that requires carving or unusual construction, it is best to use a denser cake like sponge or pound cake. It will hold together better and you won’t have an instant pile of crumbs once you begin to carve it.
- Bake your cakes, let them cool completely. I always wrap mine in plastic wrap and put them in the refrigerator for a few hours after they’ve come to room temperature on their own.
- Once nicely chilled, level the cakes. Begin by stacking the 6 inch rounds on top of each other with a healthy layer of buttercream icing in between. I typically use all butter in my buttercream but you do it however you like.
- Next, stack one of the 8 inch rounds on top of the 6 inch cakes.
- At this point insert dowels or bubble-t straws into the cake for stability.
- Then add the remaining 8 inch cakes and build up with buttercream in between each layer.
- Once you have it stacked and filled place it in the refrigerator for 2 hours. You want this to be nicely chilled.
- After it’s chilled for 2 hours it is ready to carve. Using a serrated knife, begin cutting from the top down to the 6 inch cakes at an angle to form the shape of the hat. It helps having those 6 inch cakes on the bottom so you know how narrow to make your cuts. They work as a nice guideline.
- Once it is trimmed down, cover the entire cake in buttercream. You will want to make this as smooth as you can. Lumpy buttercream will cause lumpy fondant later on.
- Roll out your green fondant to cover the hat. You will want to measure across the top of the hat and then the height of the hat. Add those numbers together and add 2-3 inches. This method will give you a little extra fondant to play with when covering your cake.
- Once the cake is covered, roll out black fondant long enough to cover the bottom of the cake. Using a ribbon cutter/embosser tool, cut the black to a 1 3/4 inch wide strip. Attach to the cake with a little bit of buttercream.
- Roll out the yellow fondant. Using a large square cutter, cut out a square. Then using the next size down, cut out a smaller square from inside the big square. This makes your buckle for the hat. Attach with buttercream.
- Next you’ll work on the brim. I simply rolled out the green fondant, cut an oval shape out using a pastry cutter (or pizza cutter). I didn’t really measure anything. I just eyeballed it.
- Once I had the oval cut out, I placed one of my 6 inch pans in the center and cut that 6 inch circle out. Then I cut the entire oval piece in half short ways (not length wise) so I could easily move it to the cake board and wrap it around the bottom of the cake.
- Attach the brim pieces. The oval shape gives you a little more to work with when curling up the sides of the brim. Stuff rolled up paper towels under the sides of the brim to give it a natural curved look. Leave the paper towels there until the fondant is dry enough to hold it’s form on it’s own.
- Make any additional decorations you like. I used a shamrock cookie cutter to make the shamrock coming out of the hat. I also used a flag cookie cutter to make the flag of Ireland.
I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I do. It was a joy to make and even more fun to stare at and admire. I can’t bring myself to cut it. I might make the leprechaun mad. 🙂
HAPPY SAINT PATRICK’S DAY!