I love to bake a good cake – but this year for my man’s birthday I thought I’d go into the scary realms of cake decorating. In the past the most I’ve ever done is drawing pictures and writing with icing and lollies/sweets/candies.
One of my friends and I once made a cake for a mutual friend who was leaving for NZ for a year – it was a cake that read an impolite version of ‘good bye’ (it was meant with love though!)… and was basically a bit of fun, and then I’ve also made a boob cake, see below – which just consisted of cutting a shape out of a couple of sponges and decorating them in pink icing with an appropriately placed nipple.
There are some very talented people out there. I started off planning to make my love’s primary love – trainer/sneaker. I was going to make him a pair of Jordans or something. Then I realized how difficult that would be and reined myself in a little.
His second greatest love is caps – baseball caps. This seemed more do-able. I was amazed by some of the talented people out there – this lady made this cake for her son and he walked into the room thinking it was an actual cap not a cake!!
So, I settled on making a ‘generic’ baseball cap – i.e. I didn’t want to attempt a replica. I also cheated a little by buying the sponge premade. This is not my usual style but I was trying to be practical – I knew I had one evening to make it (including making dinner too of course!) , and it being my first attempt I might need a fair bit of time to patch up mistakes (I foresaw that pretty well). So first up I put cream and jam in the middle of the sponge and then carved down the top edges so it was more rounded like the top of a baseball hat.
Then I made butter icing and iced over the outside of the sponge as I wasn’t sure it was right to put fondant straight onto the cake.
I then got my blue food colouring and the fondant icing – I warmed the icing and kneaded a little like pastry and made a dent in the centre where I dropped a couple of drips of colouring. Don’t go over the top as it doesn’t absorb immediately – as it was I got a shedload of colourant over my workbench and all over my hands – my nails were stained for a week! To make the colouring take you just keep kneading and rolling the fondant with your hands on the work surface. It will marble at first and then eventually after about 5-10 minutes of kneading it will even out.
I also tried brushing the colouring on, but it is the same effect really. When kneading the icing you should use icing sugar to stop it sticking – same as you would with flour and pastry/dough.
Keep adding colour until it reaches the desired shade. Always use as much icing (or more) as you think you’ll need otherwise you’ll have to match the shade again in the next batch.
If you have left over icing – just wrap it up in cling film and put it in the fridge. It lasts ages. Save it for another cake! I did!
Whilst I was colouring the fondant I chilled the butter icing by putting the iced cake in the fridge. So I took the cake back out and started rolling my fondant – just as you would roll dough. I had a few moments where I swore a lot because I didn’t use enough icing sugar to stop the fondant sticking to the workbench. And I’d pull it off all smooth and it’d stick – so badly I had to get a knife to it! ARGH!
Eventually I managed to cover the cake, trim the edges with knife and smooth over the bumps by wetting my finger with water and rubbing over any cracks or patching up with additional icing etc.
I made the peak of the cap by cutting out a semi circle with a curved edge instead of a straight edge – and then I wrapped fondant around it and attached it to the main cake. I bent the cardboard a little to make the shape more realistic.
I then got some writing gel icing and put his initial on the cake, and a feature in white. I used a tooth pick to make the seam markings. And a little knob of icing in the middle to complete the look.
The cake was by no means perfect -there were many flaws which you can’t see from a distance but it turned out pretty good for a first attempt and birthday boy was suitably pleased!! Hiding it from him had to be less than subtle – particularly as I had to store it in the beer fridge.