Tour: The Icing on the Cake

Occasionally – three times a year, to be precise – I divert away from yarnie crafty-ness to confectionery! (The making of, I mean – the eating of I do all-year-round!). A tradition has grown up in the family, that each kid is allowed to select their theme for their birthday cake; and I endeavour to bring this vision to life – or at least, to mould it in sponge and sugar. 

I’ve blogged previously about some of them. Here and here and here!

Next Monday DD will be eight (I can’t believe it either! Mind you, she’s 8 going on 18, judging from her attitude and self-confidence) Anyway, her party this year will be in Funtasia Waterpark, Drogheda. She’s been hankering after this for at least two years now, but we’ve held off until now. It suited us, this year, to not have a party in our garden; as we’ve done for the past few years. It also meant that I could “get away with” (for want of a better phrase) only inviting the girls from her class – of which there are only 11; versus inviting the whole class of 25! 

The cake she chose this year was very in-keeping with the “theme” of her party: 

The Finished Article

I thought – for today’s blog post – you might enjoy a tour of the process: 

People say to me “how do I manage it” or “it must be very hard”. My answer / secret is investing in the right raw materials. 

The Right Gear

I’ve learned this the hard way. The first cake I tried to ice, I used ready-to-roll icing from my local supermarket. It was a disaster! Now, I invest in sugarpaste and paste colourings from Kitchen Compliments. They have an online shop – for when I’m organised enough to think about it the week before I need it! 

For the rest of this post, I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking: 


I baked a basic chocolate-flavoured sponge in Pyrex bowls to give hemispherical shaped “moulds” to work from. I trim the crusts. Then I start dividing up the sugarpaste and kneading it.
To colour the sugarpaste, use a toothpick to add a little bit of the paste colouring at a time. (I think I got a bit carried away with the pink!) Then slowly knead the icing until the colour is consistent throughout. 

Cover the cake in buttercream, mould sugarpaste padding pieces into required shape and stick on. 

Roll out the icing and lift it up using the roller. Cover the cake and smooth it all over. The heat from your hands helps to relax the icing. Add a few finishing touches and you’re done!


The Racing Post

Sorry for missing out on posting yesterday – I was busy dealing with an invading horde. There was at least twenty of them, all under the age of seven. It was nerve-wracking, I tell you! How we, or the house survived, I don’t know; but thankfully I dispatched each of them back to their makers  – after two hours of filling them up with sweets and fizzy drinks. Revenge was mine!

And the cake for the occasion:

Star Trek 5: The Hat of Kahn

It’s my son’s birthday today. He’s five. It’s such a lovely age. He’s riding the crest of the wave of childhood innocence and curiosity; he has not yet developed the “world-wary” cynicism of his sister who’s two & 1/2 years his senior. He’s also gaining independence and self-confidence daily; he suffers much less frustration than his pre-verbal brother who’s almost three years his junior. For him, being in the middle is juuuuuuust right!

As is the tradition now in our house I made him a birthday cake of his choice:

My husband said it looked like a hat and came up with film title “Star Trek 5: The Hat of Kahn”. I feigned umbrage for a while before reluctantly admitting that I had thought the same while I was making it. Still, my little Man-in-the-Middle loved it and was excited about showing to his pals in his after-school club at the crèche. And it was in keeping with a theme for many of his other presents. 

DS is already 3

Where did the last three years go to? Our cheeky monkey was three last Sunday. It’s just so lovely to see him grow into a little boy.

Anyway, since DD’s birthday in May he’s been obsessing about his Birthday Cake. It had to be the “Knights Castle” from the book of easy party cakes that I made DD’s pony stable out of. So last week, biting off more than I could chew, & working until the wee hours (allowing even my knitting to suffer) I produced this:

It was sooo worth just to see the thrilled look on his face.

He was not so thrilled about his new jumper, however: “too sparkly!” his word for spiky / scratchy. I’m hoping that it will soften up after being washed and tumble dried. But I’m very impressed with it & with myself!

Inspired by Elisabeth Zimmermann I worked out my guage & using her Percentage System re-sizing the original pattern to fit him was easy. I knit it in-the-round, as a yoked sweater with grafting for the underarms – so saved myself at least two nights of sewing seams. Technically, it isn’t really the Chaos sweater from Knitty anymore, it’s so heavily modified, but I still call it that because I like the rolling of the dice for the random cable pattern.

I’m looking forward to adapting more patterns in the future. I’m thinking I could make the Tomato into a nursing top fairly easily… Elizabeth Zimmermann is VERY empowering.