My sister earned her second degree black belt recently (Yay, Mere!), and she asked me if I could make the cakes for their graduation. Of course, I said yes.
There are two testing cycles every year, and at the end of the cycle, after the various tests (written, physical, practical) are completed and the candidates have passed, the dojo holds their graduation. But it's not just a graduation ceremony. It's a huge event called – appropriately - the Black Belt Spectacular. I've been to a few of these now, over the years, for both my nephew and my sister, and trust me, they are spectacular events. There are karate demonstrations from just about everyone, from the tiny kids (Li'l Dragons and Li'l Ninjas) up through all the different demo teams and black belt club members all the way to the current cycle of candidates. At the very end, the current graduating candidates receive their new gis (the jackets) and their belts. Afterward, there is usually a small reception with pizza and other foods – and cake. Two cakes. One that all the candidates – in unison – give a ceremonail chop to and reduce it to a mess of crumbs and frosting. The other cake is the one they eat.
So I made the two cakes – the "chop cake," as I called it, was made of four boxes of cake mix and four cans of icing. Here are a few pictures of that one:
Now the other cake was more challenging and more fun.
My sister had requested lemon, so I used the same basic recipes I'd used to make Julia's recent birthday cake, with the addition of a layer of seedless raspberry jam beneath the buttercream.
Here are the layers, with all the jam and buttercream, ready for the next step….
I knew I wanted to make some sort of little fondant beings. I'd done the Beluga whales for Julia's cake, and I'd recently made a few Star Wars characters/creatures for Alex's recent cake, so I just felt like I needed to make some thing 3-D for this cake.
So here they are, my little fondant karate people:
At first I'd wanted to create real little people doing various kicks and things, each one wearing a realistic-looking gi and belt…but I also need to hang onto my sanity for a few more years, so I stopped that notion and just made these little generic people, all in white fondant, with little faces painted on with black food coloring. I made 12 of them – one for each graduating black belt candidate and one spare in case one of the others broke.
This guy is the spare – I never needed to use him.
Now, for the outside of the cake, I went through various ideas and in the end decided to use the basic belt colors that all these candidates progressed through to get where they are. They all started as white belts and worked their way up through gold, orange, blue, green, and brown (with various blended stages as well – green/brown, and so forth – which would have made the cake WAY too complicated) and, finally, at the top, black.
So here's how it looked:
Anyway, the cakes were transported in my pre-air-conditioned car down to the high school where the event was to take place. Alex came along with me and helped hold doors open while I carried the cakes. My sister and other people were there, setting up, and they seemed to like the cakes, so I was content.
Alex and I watched the Black Belt Spectatular – and it was, truly, spectacular – and then afterward everyone moved out to the lobby for the reception.
The "chop cake" was duly chopped, and then…Alex had some pizza and I took a picture of my sister and brother-in-law and nephew and niece – and then we went home because Alex was WAY over tired.
The funny thing was, no one had any of the cake that night.
Nobody brought a knife.
So my sister brought the cake home and kept it in the fridge until last night when she brought it to the dojo, and all the black belts who were there for class finally got to have some.
And they liked it.
And that is the story of my two Black Belt Cakes.