Be a knight, do it right!

A good friend of Betty’s commissioned a very special cake as a surprise for her client, Hit Entertainment. Famed for the likes of Bob the Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine & Fireman Sam, their new show is called Mike the Knight and is a massive hit, particularly with Betty’s two young knights. Henry, soon to be three, has already put his birthday cake order in!

Playboy of the Western World

One Friday evening in November the phone rings.  Could I make a cake for the cast of “The Playboy of the Western World”. Sure I say – no problem at all. “What did you have in mind?”. “Well, I’d quite like it to be a model of the set”. Cue long pause and sharp intake of breath. “Ahh. OK then. Can you send me some photos?”. “Of course”, says Niamh Cusack, the star of the show. And so begins the challenge to make a scale model, in cake, of an Irish shebeen, in under a week for the opening night at the Old Vic.

The photos arrive a day later – photos of a ‘model box’ of the set which the cast have been shown during rehearsals. Clearly the cake needs to faithfully reproduce the weathered look and the detail of the shebeen. And it’ll need to have a roof!

I started by taking some basic dimensions from the photos and making  a paper model to check I’d got the proportions correct. Then it was a case of baking and carving two cakes – one for the main building, the other for the out-house. Once these have been covered in fondant the fun began- adding the stonework, the windows & doors, the thatched roof, making some benches, and even a little sign for above the door. The stone was dusted with blacks, browns & greens to give it that weathered look.

I was really pleased with the way the cake turned out, especially given the quick turnaround.

Praise indeed from Niamh Cusack, who said, “The cake took our breath away with it’s detail and beauty. We’d sent photos of an Irish cottage and you meticulously created a work of art. And it tasted amazing. You went out of your way to deliver it to the stage door. We were delighted with it.”

Ker-chow!

Just before Christmas I seemed to have a run on Disney themed cakes, including a special request for a ‘Lightning McQueen’. Not exactly your ‘run of the mill’ double layer sponge with some detailed icing. No, this needed to be a 12″ replica of the famous Cars star, complete with all the decals. But I do like a challenge.

I started by doing my homework – sourcing images of Mr.McQueen from every angle, along with studying my son’s model cars. After a trip to the Disney store I even managed to get a remote controlled car shell that was almost as big as the actual cake needed to be. Perfect. Next was the decals to sort out, a job I gladly handed to my husband who worked his magic with Photoshop. These were printed onto edible icing sheets before being carefully cut out.

And then began the cake carving. A sharp serrated knife is essential, and a small amount of bravery helps.  Less is more. It’s better to take your time, gradually carving the shape. And it helps to have a reference … like the Disney model.

Once the carved cake has been crumb coated, it’s time to apply the red sugar paste…

Here the cake is nearing completion, with a few last details yet to be applied. One element I wanted to get right was the illusion of the car sitting on it’s wheels, rather than looking like it was flat to the floor. So, the final board has a hidden black block which supports the main part of the cake.

Here’s the finished cake.

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