Category: Cakes gone by….
Little boys like pirate ships. Fact!
The little man in my life (aka as Asher my gorgeous four year old nephew) is seriously into them. So when I asked him what he wanted for his cake this year I had a pretty good idea of what the answer would be – as he brandished his tin foil hook!
He had been given a pirate ship model by Grandma and had glued it together and painted it and that was what he wanted for his cake. ‘His pirate ship’ So I set to work.
How to make a Pirate ship birthday cake
The cake was a Madeira, (find the recipe) I wanted to get the whole design from two cakes so I made two square cakes that were 12″ and 10″ (which are my two largest square tins). My plan was to get the larger top half of the boat out of the big cake with the base of the cake out of the smaller one. I knew I was going to shape the cake inwards where the boat touches the sea, so it worked out perfectly. I also used the off cuts from the large cake to create the cabin on the top deck.
(Apologies for the blurry photo here!)
This is how they looked when cut out. There was very little waste with this design (not that there is ever waste! Off cuts taste great, especially when you are decorating a cake late at night!) The cake here is upside down to make the shaping easier.
Each cake was filled with butter cream and raspberry jam
I tried not to make the front of the boat have too much of an angle inwards underneath as I know that can be a nightmare to cover with icing.
Once shaped, the whole cake is covered in a thin layer of buttercream.
Make sure you roll out plenty of fondant icing to cover the cake and tuck it in underneath. I used a chocolate fondant which tastes even better than just plain old fondant.
Gently lift the fondant over the cake then smooth lightly with your hands to get any air pockets out. (How much icing sugar is on my arms!?!)
Once the whole cake has been smoothed over with your hands, use a smoothing tool to get it absolutely perfect. I always smooth the top before I move on to the edges. The last bit I smooth are the corner edges which I do with my hands.
Once nice and smooth, remove the excess fondant with a pizza wheel. Aim to leave a 2mm lip at the bottom.
Use a side scraper to tuck the icing into the cake.
One pirate ship cake ready. Time for the fun part.
The Cake board
I love to make a big a deal of the cake boards on all my cakes. There’s always room to add extra details and with a pirate ship it was a shark. I thought a crocodile was a bit too Peter Pan!
The round cake board was covered with a thick (5mm) layer of blue fondant which was rolled and covered in the usual way. I then used my fingers to create the waves, gently pushing into the icing to create a rippled effect. I made the shark out of grey icing and both the board and shark were left to dry. I did this a week before I made the cake so they would set.
The cake was positioned and secured to the board with a little Royal Icing underneath.
To make the deck a perfect fit I cut a slither off the ship’s paper pattern and used it as a template to cut out the yellow wooden decking.
I positioned it on the cake by dampening the icing a little.
The cabin was covered in the yellow fondant icing and was positioned on the middle of the ship’s deck with a little Royal Icing. The edge of the deck is surrounded with two long pieces of chocolate fondant otherwise the pirates would have fallen overboard!
I wanted to add a plank so I left a gap at the back
To create a wooden look I used a paring knife to score lines around the ship.
Add a few vertical lines every now and then and add screw marks next to each one.
For the port holes I cut out black circles, then added red ones on top. I left these to dry overnight as I wanted them to be firm enough to handle, but soft enough to be able to stick to the side of the ship neatly.
The anchor and chain were made with a little bit of grey fondant.
The portholes were stuck on with royal icing. I had to hold them in place for a minute or two so that they didn’t fall off.
For the masts I used skewers which I painted with a brown food colouring. I then made a red flag with a Jolly Rodger on the front (from fondant) and placed it over one of my modelling tools so when it was dry and positioned in the cake it would look like it was blowing in the wind. I left it for a few days to dry. It needs to be pretty firm as it will be handled quite a bit when the sails are made. I wrapped the red flag around the top and back of the skewer and also made sure that the top was wet so it would really stick in place.
I cut the sails out of paper and did a drawing of the Jolly Rodger then added Ahser’s initials. You can download my template for the sails here Pirate ship Sails template I used a hot glue gun to stick the sails to the mast.
For the smaller sails I attached small sections of the painted skewers to the back
This is what they looked like when they were ready to be added to the ship.
The smaller sails need to look like they are billowing. To do this glue the top part in place first and when it is really stuck fast you can stick the second on. Then all you have to do is pop it in the centre of the cake.
I love to personalise cakes, especially when I know the birthday boy so well. Asher loves Captain Hook so I made one to stand on the cake complete with peg leg and shiny hook. But the peg leg wasn’t happy about being made to stand up so he was resting on a barrel of whisky.
I also made rope to wind around the mast. It looks like a dodgy snake in this picture but it looked good in real life. I had the first mate winding it up.
I couldn’t resist having a pirate hanging out of one of the port holes.
Tim had to show me how to make a pirates hat as all my attempts made him look like a cowboy! Where’s Jonny Depp when you need him? Do you like his stubble? I thought it would make the grown ups laugh!
The first mate with his rope and spiky hair
I made the plank by cutting a thin cake board to size then covering it with fondant and creating a wooden effect. I then forced it into the cake. The naughty pirate hanging off it was made a week before the cake was so he would be dry. I was actually planning to have him hanging off the ship but he was too long, but I think this works so much better.
The shark’s teeth were the very last thing to be created. I used a tiny cut in an icing bag of royal icing to make them look nice and sharp.
So there you have it. One mamoth long blog post! and one very happy Asher. Last year I made him a Fireman cake so I think next years will be even more diffucult! We’ll have to wait and see!
Cakes gone by…
Beau’s 7th Birthday cake
When Beau was 7 I was really busy with work and knew I wouldn’t have time to create a masterpiece for her birthday party. She was having a crafting party at home and I had a lot of ‘making stuff’ to plan -mug painting, magnet making, jewellery creating etc. So for her cake I decided to make it a really simple, pretty personalised cake.
I made the flowers from sugar paste while the cake was in the oven and left them to harden overnight. The next day I filled the cake, which was chocolate, with chocolate buttercream and iced it in a pretty pink colour. I then used Royal icing to add each of the guests names onto the cake. When it was time to cut the cake each girl got her name. The kids loved it and it took no time at all to make. It was a really quick fix.
Obviously Beau got the biggest slice, I mean it was her birthday after all!
Power Ranger Birthday Cake
I recently had a request from a reader called Laurie, asking me how I made this Power Ranger cake which she saw on my ‘More cakes’ page. This is another early cake which I can’t believe I did two years ago! It feels like yesterday. George was at nursery (and now school) with Beau and Sammie is a year older than Darcey, so they were also at nursery together too.
The boys were both really into Power Rangers at the time and I thought the easiest way to do this theme was with a head shape. I made a roundcake and cut the top off so it was more helmet shaped. The whole cake was covered in a thin layer of white sugar paste icing. Then it was covered in a second layer of blue icing. I made templates from paper for the eyes, mouth and the badge detail on the top of the helmet.
I wanted the cake to look as 3D as possible. I positioned the mouth template over the base of the cake and cut away and removed the first layer of blue icing, leaving the white icing underneath in place. I then used white icing to create the lips, attaching them with a damp paintbrush. I painted the whole mouth and lips in edible silver paint (you can buy it on Amazon here) and let it dry. Edible metallic paints are best used with alcohol whether painting or cleaning the paint brushes. I learnt this the hard way and had to throw out a few brushes as the bristles just clump together if you use water.
I cut out the double layer eye masks from the templates, making the black one a little smaller than the white. I then positioned them on the cake. For the helmet badge at the top I placed two rectangles on the badge shape then used a larger cutter to imprint rectangles onto it, giving it more detail. I then painted it in silver edible paint and left it to dry before I secured it to the cake with a little Royal icing. I cut the ‘V’ shape for the helmet out of black icing and secured that with royal icing too.
The cake board
I always try and make my cake boards look extra special or as detailed as possible, so for this cake I cut out the two names nice and big in a bold red colour, then I cut out different sized stars, some with an extra star cut out. I used a pale blue sugar paste icing to cover the whole board so it could create a cute backdrop.
In all I think this cake works well as it’s a simple design, the colors stand out and the board gives it that little something extra. What do you think?
Cakes gone by…
I love this cake design. It was so much fun to do. My friend Simi asked me to make it for her third son Hugo’s first birthday party. I saw Hugo in the playground just this morning. He’s nearly three already and a proper cutie.
When I start a cake I always try to cover the cake board at least a week ahead of delivery. This means it has time to set hard (I am prone to leaving finger prints in them otherwise!) I covered this one in blue icing then used a darker blue food colour to paint on waves.
I also do all the modeling I can ahead of time. When you use icing to create animals and people they take at least a week to 10 days to dry hard enough to be handled or position so that they stand up on their own. It took me a long time to learn this habit. I’ve had legs fall off on delivery and all sorts of mishaps! But more about that in another post!
I made these animals in one weekend and Beau sat with me and made the exact same animals too. It was her idea to have butterflies and parrots on the boathouse, also Hugo’s big brother Calum was in her class at school and he said that spiders would be good, so we included them too!
Both the arc and boathouse are made from chocolate cake, everything else is made from pre-coloured sugarpaste, except the ramp that the sheep are walking up. That is actually a thin cake board cut to size and covered with sugarpaste. I needed to know that there was strength there. One bump in the road and an icing ramp would have cracked before I even got off the drive!
I shaped the arc part of the cake so that it was only slightly smaller at the bottom than it was at the top. I wasn’t experienced enough to get the icing to stick inwards without causing creases, so I made it a simple design. I used a sharp knife to score ‘plank’ lines horizontally around the ship then every now and again made a vertical line for an end of plank -with two dots for nail marks.
The house was a rectangle of cake with a pitched roof shape on top. I made one square cake large enough to cut up and do all the separate pieces in one go. The house was covered in chocolate sugarpaste and the tiles were made with an oval cutter. Each red ovals was cut in half and then placed from the bottom edge of the roof upwards and were attached with royal icing.
All the Animals were positioned with royal icing except the bees which were made on food standard wire (which is available from cake decorating shops) I made them so they could be placed in the arc after the cake was delivered. they move around like they are buzzing.
When it comes to a Noah’s Arc cake you really can go on and on. Beau and I made way too many animals that just weren’t ever going to fit onto the cake, but the modeling is the fun part and you just can’t stop yourself from playing once you get your hands on the sugarpaste. Well, we had fun anyway!
Cakes gone by…
I had worked with Tessa for nine years when I found out that she was about to have a (I won’t say big!) birthday. I wanted to make her a little cake for the occasion. One that I could carry into the office on the train, that wouldn’t get ruined on the 20 minute walk to the train station.
My plan was to make it small in diameter but taller than my usual cakes. I actually used the Lakeland pork pie tin to make it! It’s only 4″ diameter! I love these proportions and should make my cakes taller more often!
It was a cake with a buttercream filling. I covered the cake and board with pink icing in one go- rather than separately. This is a great way to keep the cake central on the board. It’s also a lot quicker to do!
I made the flowers in pale pink sugarpaste, using a blossom shaped plunger-cutter and then used a decorators tool to lightly emboss lines into the centre of each petal. When they were dry I used a pink gel food colour to paint the centre of the flowers. The colour pools inside the lines which gives them more definition and a cuter appearance. Finally I gave them a really light dusting of edible shimmer (the white/silver one). If I was making this cake now I would have added a small dot of royal icing in the centre of each flower to finish it off.
To arrange the cake I piped pale green lines for stems from the cake board up, with a few iced leaves then added the flowers all over. I cut out the ’60’ sign from sugar paste and used royal icing to write the name on the board.
The art of giving
This is one of my earlier cakes and I got all self conscious when it came to giving it to Tessa. I’m known for being a bit extra and suddenly thought I was a bit over the top for making her a cake. She wasn’t even in my department! But I think she’s great! Anyway, I waited for her to come out of a meeting…… and waited…… and waited. (There’s a lot of waiting around for meetings to end …… and start on magazines!) So in the end I left the cake in its box with pretty ribbon wrapped around it, on her desk. Yes, I chickened out! Tessa’s team had bought her presents and cards which were on her desk too, so it was a lovely surprise when she finally came out of the meeting.
Of course she loved the cake and the fact that I had made a special effort for her. Why on earth would anyone ever not like to be made a special cake! I am funny sometimes!!!