Sunday, 20 June 2010

Once upon a cake...

From a ship to a fairy palace in one simple step: my blog. My dear friend Laura's mother spied the naval cake on here, and having had no luck in procuring a birthday cake for her daughter's 21st (yes, you did read that correctly, 21st...I know the cake may suggest otherwise) asked me to make one. Laura requested a "fairy palace". For 60 people. I had two days.

What followed was a frenzy of baking, shopping, icing-rolling and decorating. I made a huge square cake for the base followed by a smaller round cake for the top. It was the same recipe as the ship cake - the Primrose Bakery cupcake cookbook's Vanilla Layer Cake. Except I had to triple it. So into this lovely creation went three blocks of butter, over half a kilo of sugar and flour, and 12 eggs. Along with red food colouring to make the cake pink (or marbled pink and white in the case of the square cake). The turrets are made out of different sizes of swiss roll (had I had more time, I of course would have lovingly hand-made cylinders of cake, but with two days this was not so realistic). It was surprisingly easy to ice in roll-out pink icing from the Cake Shop in the Covered Market, though making the blue turrets was tricky, and they are far from perfect - it's more crooked cottage than fairy palace, but never mind. Rolling out copious quantities of icing and shaping it into something beautiful is very therapeutic, actually - I'd highly recommend it!

I also got some fantastic blue edible glitter to make it sparkle, and the finishing touches were: some pink buttercream piped in rosettes around all the turrets and the base, some (non-edible) daisies which I drew vines around in green icing pen, 21 pink and white candles dotted around, and some beautiful glittery feather butterflies which I found in a craft shop. No actual fairies, but close enough. I am quite proud of it, especially because it easily fed 60 people - in fact, two-thirds of it remained to be eaten by the time I left the party. 

I would like to give numerous thank yous to Oliver Cohen, for transporting this work of art from Oxford to Leeds on the train. I bought a box for it, but the turrets were so tall that the lid wouldn't fit on. He had to trek around stations proffering forth this pink and sparkly concoction for all to see (no mean feat, as it was pretty heavy - I attempted to carry it down from the kitchen to my room in 5-inch heels, and I can honestly say it was one of my life's more terrifying moments, probably even more so than when I got stuck in a lift that plummeted several floors). Apparently he got many funny looks and a lot of comments, including a worried look when he told a stranger it was for his girlfriend - the stranger asked, concerned, " old is your girlfriend?!" I feel perhaps I should have given him my business card or something to give to any passers-by who may also have required a bespoke confectionary creation.

So, if any of my beloved readers need a cake made any time soon....I'm your (slightly stressed, covered in flour, wielding a rolling pin in a threatening manner, and unable to estimate icing quantities) girl.
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  1. The best cake EVER from the most wonderful baker in the world. You are amazing and I am so, so grateful.

    Lots and lots of love, Laura (aged 21) xxxxxxx

    P.S. Never fear, the remainder was eaten for breakfast...There remained but a couple of turrets to be given to the staff that worked the evening!

  2. It was an AMAZING cake Elly! It's nice to see the pics - I didn't get to spend as much time admiring it as I would have liked!

  3. Elly

    Many thanks for the most amazing cake! Unbelievable how you managed to produce it in such a short time. Many comments been received, all highly complimentary, and I suspect you may receive some orders. Does Oliver deliver throughout UK?
    Moira x (Bithday girl's Mum!)


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