It was cake time again this week! Wondering what I"m blethering about? Check out the cakes we've done in the past at this blog post and - for more detail on how each came together - throughout this blog.
This time, I proposed to the team a pattern based on red. I've had a bit of a red obsession the last couple of years. We settled on William Morris's iconic Strawberry Thief pattern (see left), available as wall paper and fabric, and - er - featured on my newest handbag. It comes in different colourways, but red it was.
The first challenge was deciding what elements of this very dense pattern were going to be rendered, and how. Then, what other elements might be alluded to. Then we split up to do the pieces of icing decoration that could be created ahead of time. The last two weekends were spent on that.
Items like the birds and larger flowery/leafy elements were made with the colour flow technique. A royal icing outline is then flooded with a softer royal icing. More royal icing work is painted or piped on. The colours were tricky but we finally found a Wedgewoody sort of blue and green which were pleasing to our eyes. The green was moss green food colouring gel with a hint of black. The blue was cornflower blue, again with a hint of black.
On Thursday night, I stayed up and baked layers of chocolate cake, three layers at 18 inches square. My place smelt like heaven. On Friday morning, Laura and James showed up with their stuff and we began to assemble. The previous week James (the strong man of the group) had covered the cake board with lightly tinted fondant (so it wasn't glaringly white). We put a chocolately frosting between each layer, trimmed the edges, and then spread a thin coat over the entire cake to help the red rolled fondant stick to it. That was a big job, trying to manouveur the layers around without cracking them, and ditto for the large piece of fondant.
With our more complicated patterns in the past, we've used buttercream as a background which is like a frosting, soft and spreadable. But with fondant, which is pliable and which you roll out, we were able to place all the pieces gradually, and when we were pleased with the layout, to stick them down with dots of royal icing underneath, working like cement. We made fondant leaves and piped more royal icing to make stems, birds' legs, leaves, etc. Small three-dimensional fondant strawberries were placed at each corner, and a twisted rope of green and red fondant finished off the bottom of the cake. We waited till we were at the venue to apply the dark green ribbon around the base of the cake board. That Friday we worked from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
And once again, it was a calm and relaxed process. There's never any worries or tension. Thank you Laura and James for your collaboration once more! Eleven cakes later, we're pondering taking a break. Perhaps waiting for retirement to take on another? Who knows. What this space! Oh, and by the way - it tasted great! Moist and very, very chocolatey.