Monday, 21 March 2011

Fairy birthday - the cakes

And so to the cake(s). My inspiration for the whole party was a fairy toadstool cake in my cake bible (Debbie Brown 50 Easy Party Cakes) The fairy toadstool in the book was very pink and I decided (and Sophie agreed) to do hers with a red top. I baked two madeira cakes in 2 litre pudding bowls and then carved them a little to give them a less rounded shape. I'm not a great fan of madeira cake, I much prefer a victoria sponge but for this I needed the denser cake so it would cook properly in the middle without burning.

I covered the cake board in green fondant on the day that I was making the cake which didn't give it time to dry out and harden. This meant that I kept catching it so I ended up covering a few of the worst marks with flowers and toadstools etc.

The base of the toadstool cake was covered in white fondant and the top in red. I had to carve quite a lot off the top cake to give a more toadstool type appearance, which meant that it was much smaller by the end. It was very tricky to wrap the red around the top and tuck it under but with my cake-making accomplice (my mum) it turned out reasonably smooth and only a few folds along the bottom curve (which didn't look out of place for a toadstool). I added white spots in three different sizes and smoothed the edges of the circles with my finger to thin the fondant out once in place on the red top. Since the cake was going to be moved to the party venue, I fixed the top of the toadstool to the base by putting six wooden skewers into the bottom cake with a couple of centimetres sticking out the top and pushing the top cake onto these.

Then came the fun bit where I added a door, window and flowers to the toadstool and little toadstools, flowers candles and Tinkerbell to the board. I created a small hillock to stand the flower candles in and then piped "grass" in green butter icing around the hillock, back of the cake and toadstools. The grass also kept Tinkerbell in place and covered the blue base of the figurine. I had contemplated making a fondant Tinkerbell but my first attempt was so hideous that I quickly abandoned that idea!

I had been given some cupcake stands for my birthday last year and I wanted an opportunity to use these, so I also made some cupcakes. I made two types: a chocolate cupcake with piped buttercream grass and a little fondant toadstool; and a vanilla cupcake with a cream butter swirl and pair of Tinkerbell shoes. 

The toadstools were so simple to make - a ball of white fondant flattened on the bottom and slightly squared off to make the stalk, with a coloured ball shaped over my thumb into more of a cone shape, then tiny white balls flattened onto the top for the spots and top and bottom pushed together. If you work reasonably fast then the fondant stays soft enough to stick together and there's no need for sugar glue.

The Tinkerbell shoes were equally as easy. I rolled two sausages of green fondant, flattened the toe bit and then used a ball tool to "hollow" out the middle (by pressing it in three times and then rubbing backwards and forwards to smoothe). I then added small round balls of white on the front and placed the shoes in a V shape.

When I came to make the chocolate cupcakes I discovered I didn't have any the cocoa powder so I ended up using some of Sophie's milky way drinking powder. Not a good swap as the cakes didn't rise properly and burnt very quickly, although I did manage to salvage enough for the party.

This was my first real attempt at piping grass and the nozzle I bought was much finer than the one I'd tried on my cupcake workshop. It was a bit fiddly - too short and it didn't look like grass and too long and it just flopped over. By the end though I had figured out a technique of squeezing and wiggling the nozzle a little to start without lifting, which gave a good base and then lifting and stopping squeezing to get the perfect length grass - hard to describe and whether I'll get the technique again next time remains to be seen!

© 2011 Nicola Noble

Fairy birthday - the party

So the last few weeks were spent finalising the plans for Sophie's fifth birthday. I'd seen a cute fairy toadstool cake in my birthday cake bible (Debbie Brown's 50 Easy Party Cakes) and persuaded her to have a fairy themed party so that I could make the cake!

I found some lovely Disney Fairy invitations on (which also has lots of pretty Disney fairy things to make) and edited them slightly. I then added glitter paint to the flowers and fairy wings.

We held it at the local community centre and it is a great space - big enough to lay the food table at one end, have craft tables at the other and space in the middle for the party games. In addition to balloons, I decorated the hall with some pink netting and crepe flowers tied into swathes.

I decided to keep to traditional party games: musical chairs (with a twist), pass-the-parcel, pin the butterfly on the flower and musical statues. I also set up activity tables to keep them occupied when they first arrived/ inbetween games: a craft (dragonfly peg magnets), fairy colouring and tattoo transfers.

Instead of using chairs, we played musical pillows to start. Each child had a pillow or cushion, then the pillows got taken away a few at a time and when the music stopped they had to all fit onto the remaining pillows. It ended up with all 18 children on one pillow which they all found funny.

We also played pin the butterfly on the flower. I had great fun painting a flower and adding a few fun bugs to it. I scanned a butterfly that Sophie had drawn and added a space to write their names on, then printed and cut out the image and finished with a square of double-sided sticky tape to the back ready to peel.


I was a bit concerned that I was being overly ambitious with the dragonfly peg magnet craft: a) it was a bit fiddly; b) I was letting them loose with my die-cutter; and c) would the boys like it; but I needn't have worried. I left my 16 year old niece in charge and almost everyone made one, with one of the boys making four! Details on how they made these to follow later ...

I decided to get green paper bags for the party bags (I don't like the flimsy plastic ones) and folded the top down and sealed with a label (Tinkerbell  for the girls and Terence for the boys and their names). The dragonflies they had made were then pegged to the top at the end of the party. The only downside of sealing the bags before the party was that I couldn't put the cake into the bags as they left. 

The whole party was a great success. I know how incredibly lucky I was to have hubbie running the games (he is a natural party entertainer!) and the help of both sets of grandparents, my sister and her two teenage children. And most importantly Sophie had a great time and there were no tears for the first time in five years!

© 2011 Nicola Noble

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Spot the difference

I know Halloween has been and gone but I wanted to post something that made me smile so much. While looking for new die-cutters I came across the following Sizzlit die-cut of Count Dracula ...

... and it immediately brought to mind a cute photo we took of Justin last Halloween

Can you spot the difference?