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 chocolate buttercream.
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.