Comics and cake. Two things I love. So when I was asked to make a SURPRISE birthday cake for Scott McCloud, author of “UNDERSTANDING COMICS,” I was excited and also totally freaked. I did not want to screw this up.

The request was for a “simple looking frosted-chocolate cake.” The recipe? Well, that’s my secret. Sorry folks, I don’t post ALL my recipes.

The cake was to say, “UNDERSTANDING FIFTY” – as it was his fiftieth birthday and it was a play on “UNDERSTANDING COMICS,” of course. The rest of the cake was to have an image off of his follow-up book, Reinventing Comics. See that TINY image on the left of a hand with a quill? Yeah. That’s the one.

I started out as I do with all my baking requests, by thumbnail sketching out ideas and drawing the layout by hand. Then I move to the computer and lay it out in ‘life size’ form.

For the lettering I rolled out white fondant, then lay the cut out ‘template’ that I printed and cut, over the fondant.

Once the letters were cut out, I pulled the template off…

…and now pay attention, here’s where my very expensive Architecture degree pays off : using an x-acto I cut out the lettering by hand, shaping each letter on its own. (Fondant lettering technique how-to, here.)

When it came to the hand + quill image, well – I just hand piped it. A good idea would have been to practice first, but I just went for it on a wing and a prayer. Probably a bad idea looking back, but it went quickly and smoothly, thank goodness. Sometimes stupidity works in your favor.

While this cake looks simple I assure you, the simplest things take a lot of planning. Hopefully everyone at the party enjoyed the cake – but really, can you ever go wrong with chocolate??!!