Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Christening cake

I have just finished my first christening cake and, even better, someone is going to pay me for it! I played around with various ideas from a teddy bears' picnic to a train on a track and settled on some toy toppers - a teddy bear, a train and some building blocks. The colour theme was blue and purple on white. I used purple to add some contrast so that it wasn't too wishy-washy with just pale blue.
I made the teddy in the same way as for my recent teddy bears' picnic cupcakes, but instead of flower paws I added purple stars to coordinate him with the other toppers.
The train proved a little harder - I really wasn't happy with my first attempt but then found a great shape thanks to The Cake Journal. The only thing I changed was using fondant buttons for the wheels (the client really liked this detail)

The building blocks were much harder. I started off making them too big and had to cut them right down in size. It was hard to get a cube shape but I persevered using my cake smoother and the flat surface of the work mat until they looked reasonable. It was also quite hard getting them all the same size. I have some letter embossers so used these to add some detail. If I was to do these again, I would decide on the arrangement of the blocks first and then imprint the letters as I found that, since I randomly imprinted the letters, they weren't facing the right way once put together. I was able to cover this "mistake" by making one side of each block purple and adding a blue star. This also helped coordinate the blocks with the other toppers so it worked out okay in the end.
I finished off the toppers with some lustre. I mixed snowflake lustre dust with a little bit of vodka and painted it onto the purple and black elements of the toppers. Doing it this way makes the lustre more intense than just brushing the dust onto the fondant. The vodka evaporates which means the fondant doesn't get soggy.

The cake was a 9.5" victoria sponge with lemon zest and lemon buttercream. My two tins were slightly mismatched so I had to do a little cutting to balance the outer edges of the two layers and a little levelling on the tops of the sponges to make the cake flat. My last decorated sponge had a middle bulge showing through the fondant icing but with research I realised that the buttercream had been too soft so this time I made the buttercream reasonably firm for the middle and then softened it with more lemon juice to dirty coat the sides and top (dirty coat is a thin layer of buttercream that "traps" the crumbs). I put the cake in the fridge while I did the school pickup and later added a thicker layer of buttercream to the top and sides (no crumbs to fight with on this layer!) and then covered the cake in white fondant.

The cake was placed off-centre on a board so the name could be placed at the front of the board. I had covered this with white fondant last week (to allow it to harden so that it didn't mark when the cake was put on) and glued a blue ribbon to the edge of the cake board.

I recently watched a tutorial on YouTube where the person used a pastry/pizza cutter to trim the excess fondant so I thought I'd give this a go. I can see with some practice that this will work very well and for a first attempt it wasn't too bad - just a little high in a couple of places. I covered these slight uneven edges with a blue fondant ribbon.

The fondant ribbon was hard to do. I bought a Wilton ribbon cutter when I was in the States recently and I think it will take a bit of practice for this too. The "cutters" don't cut as cleanly as I would like but overall it gives a nice effect. The only really hard thing was rolling a piece of fondant long enough to go round the whole cake in one piece and keeping a consistent thickness along the length. It took about three attempts but I got there ...

Finally, to finish the cake I added the little boy's name. I used this as an excuse to buy some letter cutters. Again these are going to take some practice but I think that they turned out well. They are slightly bigger than I was expecting but I think they look good on this cake.

All that is left to do now for the Christening is to make some cupcakes with blue and purple buttercream swirls.

© 2011 Nicola Noble

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