Wednesday 25 April 2012

Celebration cake for a new baby - cake decorating class #4

After a three-week Easter break, I was looking forward to my next cake decorating class - particularly because we had been told we would make a christening or celebration cake for a new baby, and a member of my team at work has just had a baby girl.

But while we haven't needed to bring a cake for some classes as we were just modelling, we were told this time to bring a round cake which we had already filled and covered with white fondant at home (to save time in the class) and to also cover a cake board in white fondant. As well as that, we needed to make some Mexican paste in advance to use for modelling in the class. Which was all very well, but I went to Amsterdam for the weekend and got home at about 11pm on Monday night - and the class is on Tuesday night straight after work.

Luckily my boyfriend's lovely mum offered to make a cake for me, and I made the Mexican paste before I went away and put it in the freezer (but more on that later). So on Monday night the taxi that dropped off my boyfriend on our way back from the airport had to wait while his mum came out and thrust a cake into my hands, and when I got home rather than unpacking I was icing the cake and covering it with fondant - it was nearly midnight before I finished!

The cake itself is a triumph - a really deep Victoria sponge from a Mary Berry recipe, and filled with loads of buttercream. Thanks Janet! She also turned the top piece upside down so the top of the cake would be perfectly flat for me to decorate. I bet you wish your mother-in-law was like this ;-)

I realised this was only the second time I had ever covered a round cake in fondant, and the first time was a little messy but as I was making a cow print cake, I could use the black patches to hide where the fondant had torn or overlapped. I couldn't do that this time! But this time I was only covering a one-tier rather than two-tier cake so it was a lot easier, even though I'm still definitely not as confident doing this as I could be.

I also covered the largest cake board I could find with fondant, as I wanted there to be plenty of room around the edge of the cake for decoration or maybe lettering... and then found that I didn't have a single box or carry case big enough to fit the cake board! Given I would have to walk to and from my cake decorating class and then take the cake into work on the train and bus, I was totally lost as to how I was going to transport it.... so I decided to start again with a smaller cake board! This time there wouldn't be as much space around the edge of the cake, but more importantly it would fit in my cake carry case.

The picture below shows my icing smoother which I used to, well, smooth the icing. This is a new piece of equipment I bought for my cake decorating class though to be honest I'm not sure how much difference it makes.

So after all that, I finally had a cake and board covered in white fondant - and I could go to bed!

So fast forward to the cake decorating class... we were told we would begin by making a pair of baby's booties. I had made my Mexican paste to Lorna's recipe and followed her instructions to put it in the freezer over the weekend and take it out the morning of the class. However, the paste was completely unusable - rock solid and when I did manage to warm it between my hands enough to make it pliable, it was really crumbly and there was no way I could have rolled it out. I think I didn't knead it enough before I put it in the freezer - Lorna says this would have most likely been the reason, and as I was in a hurry to pack for my holiday I didn't knead it for very long at all. Luckily I had emailed Lorna that morning when I took the paste out of the freezer to say it looked very crumbly, and she made sure she had enough in the class for me to use. Lesson learnt!

As my colleague had just had a baby girl, I decided to go with the traditional pink - funnily enough everyone in the class was using either pink or plain white. Lorna gave us a print-out with instructions and a couple of templates for the baby's shoe, which we cut around. The picture below shows the template for the sole of the shoe, which I cut around.

We then used another template and another piece of Mexican paste to make the top part of the shoe, which you fold around and stick to the sole. I seem to have a tendency to use too much edible glue and the shoe became a little soggy around the edges and I had to keep lifting it with a palette knife so it wouldn't stick to the table!

We then used an embosser and a cutter to make a semi-circle part for the front of the shoe, but you could also cut this freehand.

The two shoes taking shape, with the templates I used.

And now with the front part of the shoe in place- it really does look like a baby's shoe!

Finally bend the two parts of the strap around and stick with edible glue. I should have made a little bow to stick on here to cover the join, but I didn't have time. I did stick a little sugar ball from a packet of mixed sprinkles on the front of each shoe.

Unfortunately this was all we had time for in the class. Lorna demonstrated how to use a Garret frill cutter to make a frill to go all the way around the side of the cake, which I think would have looked really nice, but we didn't have time to even start it in the class, which was a bit disappointing as I had bought the frill cutter specially. Lorna did say we could do it at home but I had promised the cake for work the next day, it would be almost 10pm by the time I got home, and I didn't have any more Mexican paste! So once I put the shoes on top of the cake, this is all I had:

I decided that just wasn't enough to take into work for my colleague's baby shower so when I got home, remembered I had bought some mini baby cookie cutters some time ago, and never used them. I'm not even sure why I bought them other than they looked cute, but I was very glad I had them in the drawer! I coloured some ordinary fondant pink - I was pretty sure it would dry hard enough to work and it wouldn't matter that I wasn't using Mexican paste.

I then used edible glue to stick the shapes - a rocking horse, baby's bottle and teddy bear - around the side of the cake.

I still felt the top looked a little bare, and wanted to add the baby's name. I have the Tappit alphabet set but have never used it, and realised that it wouldn't work with soft fondant and I did need Mexican paste, so that idea had to go on the back burner. Instead I bravely - foolishly? - decided to pipe freehand using a tube of writing icing. I've never, ever, tried to pipe lettering onto a cake before so I had a feeling this would turn out to be a disaster but actually I think it was OK!

There was still quite a lot of white space on the cake so I used some butterfly cutters to make a couple of small butterflies from the same pink fondant.

Overall I'm quite pleased with the cake, especially as it looked decidedly unfinished when I got home from my class!

I am going to be slightly cheeky and enter my 'baby cake' in this month's Alphabakes, hosted by Ros at TheMoreThanOccasionalBaker as this month's letter is B, even though the cake is actually a Victoria sponge. I'm sure she won't mind!


  1. very effective.looks good.

    1. It tasted amazing too - I will have to ask Janet for the recipe! I think it's from a book I gave her for Christmas. I'm starting to think about your birthday cake already!

  2. The cake looks adorable, just a way a baby-shower cake should be :D

    1. Thank you! We're not big on baby showers in this country for some reason and so we gave my colleague this cake after he came back from paternity leave, which is how I was able to include the baby's name. We faked a meeting and when he came in we had the cake and gifts, he was really surprised!

  3. Wow! So cute & adorable cake! I must say that I'm impress how lovely you've decorated this cake! Well done! :)

    1. Thank you! It was actually a lot easier than it looks!

  4. These shoes are so cute...I haven't tried making them yet but I've had my eye on them!! :-)

    1. I had an email the day after I did this, from Cakes 4 Fun offering a course to make a very similar cake- for £110! My evening classes work out at less than £10 a time! Shame there's only a few left...

  5. Definitely accepted for AlphaBakes - our challenge, our rules ;) I admire your efforts in making this cake - covering with fondant after your holiday and making all the extras after your got home. I hope your colleague appreciated all the effort! I really, really want to do a cake decorating class like yours!

  6. Hi Caroline!
    I have a couple of awards waiting for you here
    do visit.
    Have a nice weekend

    1. Thank you so much for the award, Anuja! I love your blog and the makeup bag cake is brilliant!

  7. Looks great and you put in such hard work too making the booties but the end results are well worth it!


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