Here is the result of what a bit of bullying and some faith can do. Lil Lassie’s classmate invited her to her birthday party. Her Mum was and is in the midst of settling in the happy chaos that are one month old twin boys, making her the ma to four kids under six years of age. She has my complete admiration! While chatting with her, she mentioned having to scramble for a cake as the woman she asked previously couldn’t do it. The words were out before I could even think, ” Would you let me make her cake?”.
She had only ever seen Lil Lassie’s birthday cake last year and so didn’t have much of an idea of what she could expect. But, being a gentle and gracious woman, she gave in to my enthusiastic pleading. The only stipulations were that it had it to be vanilla and have a pony on it.
I knew exactly what I wanted to do. Thing is, the whole project would be a series of first-time tries for me. Somehow though, I quite relished that challenge and decided to give it a go.
Four 20cm vanilla sponges were baked, coloured in varying intensity of, what else, pink. A standard vanilla buttercream helped sandwich the layers and cover the cake, ready for the sugarpaste.
Covering a 5 inch plus cake with sugar paste proved pretty tricky and there were some cracks in places. Luckily a dark green, cut out grass border covered a multitude of sins. Next the brand new Wilton moulds were dusted with cornflour and put to good use to create cherry blossom trees and branches as well as birds in flight. Teeny flower cutters created blossoms in two shades of pink and royal icing helped them stick as well as provide them with simple white centres. The same shades of fondant were used to cut out the lettering required.
The pony, bless him, was hard work! There is a delicacy of touch required to do figurines I found out and I only got to grips with it on the third attempt. This ‘pose’ of pony or indeed any animal figurine is by far the easiest style to do. Since this is my first go, I thought I’d stack the odds in my favour and not get too ambitious. I loved his face and white muzzle. Anatomically, he is complete incorrect, but I am going to call on artistic liberties in this case!
Then came the lettering…I tried putting it every which way across the face of the cake. It just looked messy. If I had thought things through before hand, I would have probably covered the cake board with fondant so that the lettering could run round the bottom of the cake. But, the fact is, I am so glad I didn’t because this bit of a lightbulb moment came to me, with the clouds. I didn’t have time to make it out of fondant and have it dry sufficiently, as it was now, the night before the party. And it would have been far too heavy. But I did have foam board! I cut out cloud shapes, covered both faces with fondant and shoved a bamboo skewer into the middle. The lettering was pasted directly onto there and the whole placed carefully in the cake.
I was extremely nervous taking the cake in. Her mum had given me complete design liberty, I could do whatever I wanted. What if she didn’t like the cake? What if the girlie wanted more ponies? (I would have liked to have gone down that route, but didn’t have enough time) And the cake? Would it be too dry? Not vanilla enough? Did the cake colours work properly? OH, Goodness! Did I stack the cake in the right order?
Panic while trying to carry a 8 inch high cake box on an escalator is terribly inconvenient.
Their response was so touching. Birthday girl’s dad was genuinely touched and her Mum loved the design. The girl herself, threw her arms round me for a long, looonng cuddle while saying ‘thank you’, ‘how much she loved the cake’ and ‘could she eat the pony?’ Lil Lassie was terribly proud when all her friends asked her if her mummy made that cake and she could say yes.
That huge hug was the best part of the process. It really gave me all the satisfaction I wanted out of this project. And thanks so much, to the Mum, for running with a grain of faith. She didn’t need to, but she did and for that I am grateful.