So this is the story of a cake that took WAY longer than expected and used WAY more tools than I ever thought it would (mainly because I wanted it to be easier for myself and I'm lucky enough to have every cake tool known to man ;)
My mother's best friend asked me to make a cake for her daughter's 40th - 'oh something simple, she loves Miss Marple'.. Can you make Miss Marple's Cottage? The truth is, I'm not sure I'd EVER watched Miss Marple in my life so I got straight on to my lovely student group and asked them what it should include! Luckily they were much more clued up than me so they were pretty good at helping with my random questions about the few photos I could find online - like Is that wall a part of the fence???? (no, it's not apparently ;) - why do I get so consumed with such things???
So of course a cake will never look exactly like a specific house, but I like to think I made somehting quite lovely - I thought it would be nice to take you through how I made the cake as lots people are often scared of such cakes and they're really not so bad..
I started with two sheet cakes baked in small roasting tins and cut rectangles from them, stacked them to create a large rectangular building. I then use the left over bits (that weren't big enough) and pieced them together to make the roof, which was then carved into a triangular shape. The cake was ganached and then covered in white sugarpaste. I had a major stress about the upstairs windows and then decided to just make them out of blocks of sugarpaste (maybe a bit heavy but it worked - they weren't as big as I'd imagined).
I then used a strip cutter tool to emboss the brickwork and used a small fold of card to mark the individual bricks (I didn't have a small brick embosser and the bigger one looked wrong on this scale). I used the same method for the rook but did squares instead (I couldn't bear the thought of making a million overlayed strips to make it look more realistic but would probably have done that if I had more time).. I then stuck the sugarpaste windows on and airbrushed the cake. It turned out quite a bit browner than intended but I liked the look of it :)
I'd played aorund with the board as I intended to pipe grass all over it, then made a decision to just pipe grass inside the fenced bit. I would usually use a new stiff brush for marking grass but I didn't have one so I eneded up using a cheese grater (I know, totally random!) to mark the green paste. It didn't matter that it was a bit basic as a lot of it was being covered anyway.. The cake was placed onto the green board and was then ready for it's accessories (my favourite bit!)! (oh, and I don't have a photo, but I made a 'brick' archway to cover the door which you can just about see in the end photos - that was dried and airbrushed separately before assembling).
So here's a breakdown of what was then added:
- Pathway - marbled grey sugarpaste and the FMM cobbelestone mat.
- White Perimieter Fence - (painstakingly) made from florist paste using the smallest JEM strip cutter (I can't even begin to tell you how annoying that was to make, but I feel it was worthwhile in the end as it looked just as I'd hoped!) - the fence was left to dry overnight so it was hard and easier to handle.
- Door - brown sugarpaste and the FMM wood embossing mat and little square cutters to cut the holes out.
- Window Frames - JEM strip cutters again
- PME Blossom Cutters - I'd cut lots of tiny blossoms (using a PME plunger cutter) in a few different colours
- Tiny Roses - mould (Alphabet Moulds) in the same colours and wanted these to surrond the door and fill the garden.
Using green royal icing, I filled two bags - one with a Jem No.2 Round Tip and one with a Wilton 352 Leaf Tip. I used a comnbination of both tips to pipe a massive amount of leaves and twines around the windows, door and up the sides of the house. I then piped layers of leaves to create little rose bushes. I stuck the pre-made flowers on as I went along. I piped grass using a Wilton 233 Tip and stuck the fence straight into the grass to hold it in place.
I completed the cake with a couple of edible prints for the newspaper and the 'St Mary Mead' sign and of course personalised it for the birthday girl.
Here's the finished cake:
I hope you've found it interesting - let me know your thoughts!