Saturday, 19 January 2013

Ship ahoy

Justin's fourth birthday party was pirate themed so I decided to make cake in the shape of a pirate ship.

I didn't have anything suitable in any of my cake books so I searched online and saved some of the images I liked best. Luckily in my searching I also found a template for the shape of the cake, which I resized to the size of my rectangular cake tin and printed out; this helped quite a bit with carving the cake into the right shape.
The cake took a full day to create this year as I wasn't able to prepare much in advance; I really didn't know how big it was going to turn out so had to pull it all together on the day. I did manage to bake the sponges a few days before and to cover the board with some fondant icing that I coloured blue - I didn't blend the colour totally leaving a marbled, wave-like effect - and edge it with a perfectly matched blue ribbon I already had.

I baked three large rectangular Victoria sponges and cut and carved the cake from this. The bottom of the cake was made up of two layers sandwiched together with blue buttercream. I covered this with ready coloured brown (chocolate flavoured -yum!) fondant and pressed a wood effect embosser into it. I then made up the bow of the ship with another two layers of sponge and the stern with two large layers and a smaller layer (again all sandwiched together with buttercream). I covered each of these with brown fondant: the bow I covered around the sides with a single strip and cut a piece for the top then pinched the edges together; the stern I cut a piece that went up the back, over the top and down the step-like layers, then cut two pieces for each side and again pinched the edges together. I then placed the extra parts onto the base.

I hadn't used an embosser before and found that I needed to press the pattern into the rolled out fondant before I put it onto the cake to get a good effect. I then added lines for planks and "nail" holes at the end of each plank.

Then came the fun bit, adding character and bringing the ship to life:
 - I used Curly Wurly's for the railings along the decks: I cut them to size which was a bit tricky as they were quite brittle and then dipped the cut ends into some melted chocolate, fixing them onto the cake with more melted chocolate and dusting with gold powder.
- I used half a Crunchie for the plank (cut horizontally and dipped into chocolate) which I fixed onto the ship with two cocktail sticks and some melted chocolate.
- I added portholes cutting an oval out of white chocolate; this was perhaps the trickiest bit as the chocolate kept breaking and in hindsight I should have used fondant which would have been much easier to work with. I then put the candle holders into the middle of the portholes.
- I piped blue buttercream for waves along the bottom of the ship.
- I moulded the very front of the ship out of more fondant (I had thought to do some sort of figurehead but time and inspiration weren't on my side).
- I added some pirates (I cheated and used plastic figures as I didn't have the time to make some little pirates - these had so much more character than anything I could have made, plus there were four for the four year old!)
- I piled up some Cadbury Snowballs, sprayed gold, for canon balls (fixed together with white chocolate) and lots of gold chocolate coins for loot.
- I cut Justin's name out of red fondant and added to the board, decorating it with shimmering marzipan shells/starfish.
And finally, I added sails. I had planned to use rice paper for the sails but it all went horribly wrong when I tried to paint a red cross onto it, going sticky and ripping, so I resorted to regular paper which I printed with a red cross for one sail, red stripes for another and a skull and crossbones for the last one. I used a chopstick for the back mast and a piece of bamboo for the main one (as the chopstick wasn't tall enough).
The very finishing touch on the day was adding the candles to the candle holders fixed into the portholes and lighting them for the birthday boy to blow out.
Arrrrr matey, raise the Jolly Roger!
© 2013 Nicola Noble: Please observe the rules of copyright and blog etiquette. If you use my ideas or images, please link back to my blog. And do let me know - I'd love to take a look

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