Monday, 9 January 2012

The Very Hungry Caterpillar cake

Justin had a Very Hungry Caterpillar party for his third birthday and I had to come up with a cake that fitted the theme. I felt it would be hard to beat the creative success of last year's monster cakes and although I had seen various VHC cakes none of them had inspired me. The exception was some cupcakes with fondant toppings of the VHC fruit and "Saturday food" from The Icing on the CakeI love the way she managed to stay true to the style of the book by blending the icing colours. I decided I wanted to make a shaped caterpillar cake and took further inspiration from Icing on the Cake's caterpillar decoration, in particular the way the different colours overlap.
The Icing on the Cake's beautiful fruit
The Icing on the Cake's caterpillar
I prepared various bits over a few days: I covered a large square board with white fondant; I went through my stash of fondant icing, mixing various colour combinations for marbled/mottled effect and Sophie, Justin and I cut out lots and lots of different coloured circles; I made the caterpillar's antenna and feet; and I cut Justin's name out of different coloured fondant. As I've mentioned before, I find the letter cutters a fiddle as I don't have petal paste which gives the fondant added strength, but as most of my fondant was "old" they worked fine. 

I also wanted to be slightly different this year and went for a chocolate sponge with vanilla buttercream filling. I found a vanilla pod at the back of my herbs and spices and had a go at adding real vanilla seeds to the buttercream - delicious! I baked a rectangular sponge and a 7" circular sponge.

My mum always helps with my own children's birthday cakes which makes it fun and a lot less stressful. After cutting the caterpillar shape out of the two cakes I split it into four sections, halved each section horizontally and filled with the vanilla buttercream. I crumb coated the sections, put in the fridge for 20 minutes before putting another layer of buttercream on. I then put the four sections together on the covered cake board with strips of greaseproof paper under the edges of the cake so that the buttercream didn't spread onto the fondant board and make it greasy. The paper then gets gently pulled out from under the cake once the fondant is on the cake and the edges have been neatly trimmed.

I bought two pre-coloured green fondants - dark green and leaf green and then marbled them in different combinations: leaf green with a little bit of dark green; dark green with a little bit of leaf green; various greens with yellow; and various greens with blue. I rolled, pinched and blobbed the different colours together and the outcome was really effective. I worked on a colour combination at a time in small quantities and then cut the fondant into strips/triangles and placed them onto the cake, roughly following the picture on the front of the Very Hungry Caterpillar board book. I made sure that the layers overlapped in different ways i.e. some of the layers were on top of the layers to either side and others were over on one side and under on the other (hope that makes sense but hopefully the picture shows what I mean!)

I covered the head in plain red, added the eyes in yellow and marbled green and the nose in dark green and placed the antenna and feet in place on the board.

I wanted to incorporate the dots that appear in the book, my invitation and the table cloth/paper plates/napkins I was using and so I glued (using edible glue) the lovely multi-coloured circles that the children had helped me make - five rows along the bottom and one row at the top. I fixed a red ribbon around the outside of the board and added Justin's name under the caterpillar. I then finished the whole thing off with the obligatory lustre and this time I managed to use my spray can perfectly by spraying from a distance to cover the whole cake and board - lovely!
© 2012 Nicola Noble


  1. Nicola, your cake for Justin is beautiful! I love the dots on top and bottom of the board - a very colorful touch. I am so flattered that you used my cupcakes as inspiration - wow! Thanks for sharing this picture - I know Justin must have loved his birthday celebration. Happy caking!


  2. Thanks for your kind comments Marj and I look forward to seeing your other masterpieces - they may inspire me further!