Thursday 14 August 2008

In which I am a cake making supremo.

This weekend was my niece's 5th birthday, and a momentous occasion it was. Seeing as my niece is super cute and funny and adorable, it was basically like a national holiday in our family. I even didn't mind that much that my sister let her phone me at half past 8 in the morning, knowing full well that I hadn't got to bed until nearly 4am.

The best thing about having a small female child to buy gifts for is that suddenly you have an excuse to buy all the toys you really wanted when you were little, and it becomes way less about your niece and more about 'Well, I want to play with that.' The other thing is that you sometimes get to indulge your culinary prowess and make exotic birthday cakes.

Ever since last year when my sister announced that my niece - who I will henceforth call ER, as that is the (very) short version of her name - wanted a pink fairy castle cake, and I said 'I could probably work out how to do that...' I've been the designated cake maker for ER's birthdays. Well, last year's and this year's, anyway. It's kind of nice, because you get to be super creative with it, and you also get to try stuff out that you probably wouldn't have got a chance to (although I do still want to create the Land Of Chocolate cake for one of my birthdays. Maybe next year. I'm thinking about making 27 a big old shindig, as 26 kind of passed with a whimper. And even though it's a whole year away - seriously, my birthday was like two weeks ago - I'm now contemplating doing party bags, because I kind of think it would be amazing.) AND you also get to indulge your inner child by making the cake you probably wanted when you were 5. Or 8. Or 20. Or 26. And so on.

This year, ER said she wanted a cake with five fairies on, and I started thinking about how to do it. Drawing fairies on with icing would be hard and they would look sloppy, so I thought about making little 3D fairies out of card. But they would have been very basic and... kind of sloppy, again. So! I present to you a picture story about how I did ER's cake what I did.

I drew some fairies with the aid of paper, a pencil and a little bit of help from my Flower Fairies book (it's for artistic research, shut up!).

Then I scanned them and printed them out so they were all the same size and slightly smaller. Then I flipped the image and printed them out again. Then I got out my trusty watercolour pencils and coloured them all in. The drawing and colouring of the fairies took around two full evenings.

I also made wings, which took two long evenings in itself. But I forgot to photograph them, so more on them later.

The day before the party, I went out and spent around £10 on sweets. It doesn't look like much in the picture, but it was - the paper bag was full of about £3 worth of pick 'n' mix.

I spend about three hours cutting out the fairies with a stanley knife and fixing them to wings and kebab sticks. The wings, as you can see here, were all coloured by me, and have been cut out to match each other (which took ages). Each fairy has four wings - because the silver middle bit is actually sandwiched between two pieces of card. This seemed like a good idea at the time, but took bloody ages.

Here is all of the fairies together! They're double sided which ended up not being that necessary as most people only saw the front of the cake. Next time, that's worth remembering.

I make the cake! Which is frankly huge. The reason these pics are so dark is because it was like 10.30pm.

The next morning, I make a vast quantity of icing, and permanently dye my fingers blue from combining blue and yellow food dye to get the right shade of green. The icing takes over an hour, and I was really running out of time which is why this is basically just a bowl of icing sugar because I got too stressed after that point to take more pictures.
Then I get to decorate! Which is the fun part. It's hard to see from this angle, but the fairies are running over the cake to get to the little pool of sweeties.

Which is meant to be a well, as you can see better from this picture.

Slightly closer angle. I love the little clusters of pink rocks, which are actually Millions. Delicious chewy sweets made of mysterious chemicals. And the mushrooms! Which are those mushroom sweeties, but there was too much pink so we dipped them in red food colouring.

Final photo, at the party. Check out the mini balloons! Water balloons, in fact, which took a surprisingly long time to knot together after they were blown up. But they were what most people commented on.

And from above.

Next year, though, I am very tempted to get her a cake from the supermarket. Or maybe offer to make her a surprise cake and just do a cut-out of a number 6 and cover the whole thing with sweets.

Like cakes? Who doesn't! Check out Cake Wrecks.

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