Little Mudlet turned 10 a short while ago and to celebrate this special birthday, I decided that not only did she need a more grown up style party and I would have to come up with a cake to match the venue. We settled on the idea of a pottery painting party for Little Mudlet, two of her friends and Middle Mudlet, at the local pottery studio/shop called “Live, Love and Create”, followed by a rather grown-up tea party at “Shipley’s Curiositeas”, a lovely little tea shop opposite the studio. I’ll cover the pottery and tea party in another post because THIS post is all about the cake ………..
Well you can see from the header picture what I decided to attempt for this very special birthday and whilst it would never pass “Bake-Off” scrutiny, I was really rather pleased with how it turned out. I’ve attempted some pretty special creations before (remember the Pirate Ship, or the Pumpkin Mouse House for example?) but they have been cakes I’ve seen in a book or on-line.
This cake was different! This cake was my creation, my design ……. my headache! It’s all very well and good coming up with an idea but actually working out the logistics and then creating your imagined masterpiece, is quite another story but I pondered and furrowed my brow, dreamt and imagined and finally worked out a strategy.
First job was to source a good sized pudding basin and I was fortunate to find a 2 litre, old fashioned, white enamel bowl in one of the local shops which would be perfect for the task in hand and so a couple of days before the tea-party, I made two chocolate cakes in the 2 litre enamel bowl and then two smaller ones in my old 1 litre pudding basin. Cakes made, I left them overnight, ready for icing the next day when Little Mudlet would be at school and so wouldn’t see the main cake until it was completed.
Friday morning, I sliced the domed centre of the two larger cakes to level them off, sliced each cake in half and then made a large batch of chocolate butter icing which was used to sandwich each cake back together and then to each other, one on top of the other. A thin layer of the butter icing was then smoothed over the outside of the cake before the whole thing was placed in the freezer to harden off the icing slightly, as it was a little warm in the kitchen.
Whilst the cake was chilling, I started on the fondant icing. I’ve had mixed results with colouring ready to roll icing before, often achieving a very sticky and shiny looking end product, or a marbled look which hasn’t looked so good on the cake. I have resorted to the ready to use coloured icing before now but the colour choice is restrictive and they are significantly more expensive than the white variety, so I did some research and was interested to read that due to its’ lower moisture content, gel food colouring was the best option over the traditional runny colouring. This made sense and as I already had some gel colouring in my cupboard, I decided to give it a try.
With food gloves on, I put a small drop each of blue and yellow gel into the centre of the white icing and began to knead it in. Within a few seconds the white had turned to a very, very pale green and so I added a larger dollop of each and the usual marbling happened but this very, very quickly disappeared and a lovely ball of smooth, mint green icing materialised within just a minute or two. Wow! The gel colouring really did work a treat!
Jump forward a couple of hours and Little Mudlet returned home to find an unadorned green teapot cake on the side and she was delighted. Having made a 1cm rim with the green icing, I carefully poured some chocolate fudge icing on to the very top of the cake to give it the look of a full pot of tea. A lid was then added, made from the domed top of one of the smaller cakes and which I had lightly covered in chocolate butter icing and more of the green fondant. The spout was made from a sausage of green icing, with some butter icing painted into the very top of the spout to give the illusion of tea stains, before being attached by wetting the base of the spout and the side of the cake with a wet brush, to form a ‘glue’ and then smoothing the joint so that it all but disappeared. There were also cocktails sticks running through the centre of the spout to give it strength and another half cocktail stick was used to fasten the spout to the cake. A small beaker was placed under the spout to support it whilst the ‘glue’ hardened off. The rather rough looking handle was added in much the same way.
Ready formed icing roses and wafer daisies were added to the lid and sides with the stems and leaves painted on using a tube of green icing the Mudlets’ had bought for my birthday cake last month. As Little Mudlet slept later than night, I fashioned a sugar bowl and milk jug from the two smaller cakes, used left over daisies to tie them into the teapot and then arranged the whole thing on a wooden bread board which I had wrapped in gift paper and cling film.
Coming downstairs on Saturday morning, Little Mudlet was surprised and delighted to see her finished tea set and the smile that lit up her face, more than compensated for the aching neck, shoulder and back muscles, I now had after two full days of mixing, beating, kneading and forming. So while this cake would never pass the scrutiny of Paul and Mary, its’ recipient was more than happy with it and I could consider it a job well done.