This is a cake I made just this week- Monday to be precise. It was for my lovely friend Issy’s parent’s joint 70th surprise birthday party.
The original plan was to have a two tier Madeira cake but on the last day of term she told me that her daughters were talking about chocolate cake and we switched it as I hadn’t baked the cake yet. So, it became a top tier of chocolate Madeira cake and a bottom tier of regular Madeira cake, both with .
To personalise the cake Issy told me what her parent’s passions were and we came up with having models of her parents sitting on top of the cake – Mum knitting and Dad playing the banjo. As they were having a tea party I added bunting around the cake in sugarpaste and I made some paper bunting using skewers for the posts to go on top of the cake that said “Happy 70th Birthday”.
I tried something new with the models this time – I made them in plenty of time to allow them to dry! I must have mentioned before that I made a wedding cake a few years ago and the groom’s leg fell off during the 30 mile delivery journey. Well, I didn’t want any disasters with this one even though it was just going around the corner. So I planned.
I always make my models on a Polystyrene Cake Dummy. They’re the right shape and can withstand a lot of things being poked in them like skewers and cocktail sticks. As you can see I started with the legs. I positioned them so they are sitting with enough bum on the dummy that they won’t fall off the cake. I then use edible glue to stick the feet on the bottom of the legs. I strategically place cocktail sticks in the dummy so that I can rest the feet on one stick and support with the others. I did the same for Mum, only she was wearing a skirt. They only needed to be left over night before I could add the rest of the body without feet falling off.
I also made the heads with noses and eyes on one day then lay them on my Foam Pad to dry out. (A word about the foam pad – I’ve always used a bit of kitchen paper on a chopping board to dry models and flowers in the past but these pads mean that air can circulate and everything dries so much faster. I kind of love these foam pads!) I apply a light dusting of pink powder lustre for a rosy cheek then I don’t paint any of the face until the next day when the sugarpaste has hardened up a little.
When it came to Mum’s neck I wanted to hide the join line so I picked out all the tiny, little white dots from a packet of tiny hundreds and thousands and made her a necklace. When I say tiny I mean TINY! Dad already had a collar so he was sorted.
I made the banjo a day ahead too and coloured the ends of two cut down cocktail sticks with silver edible food colouring. Once dry the knitting needles were pushed through mum’s hands. A drop of grey royal icing on the ends made them look more like real needles. The knitting falling over her lap was a strip of sugarpaste which I textured with a piece of kitchen paper laid on top then rolled over so it leaves an imprint.
I tried my hand at icing a line of royal icing along the whole of the side and then in two stages but it kept breaking – I need more royal icing practice I think. So instead I used a little royal icing to stick each triangle onto the cake then added a little line between each one.
Once the cake and icing were complete, Mum and Dad were positioned on top and the bunting was all in place I was done! I was really happy with the colours of the cake. I wanted it to be pretty tea party shades for a spring party. Shame the rain just kept on coming down on the day but it looked like the birthday boy and girl had a great time anyway.