Yesterday we had a little birthday dinner party for my son Jethro who turned four.
Usually my kids pick a theme for their party and that helps me decide on a cake, but this time it was the other way around.
Months ago when quizzed about what he wanted for his cake, Jet waivered between being quite specific and rather vague. He wanted the exact same cake as last year, but could he have Lightning McQueen on it? Hmmmmm.... I didn't really like the idea of making the same cake twice, nor trying to make a red race car seem congruent with a prehistoric world full of dinosaurs :).
In the end, I decided that his cake would incorporate several of his favourite things, and the best way to do that was to make a toy box cake.
It was a labour of love, and whilst I am glad I made it, it's not a cake I would want to make again because of the time put into it. Several weeks ago I began making toys - nearly all of them - miniatures of Jethro's favourite toys.
There was Stephen the Stegosaurus, his cuddly bedtime friend, made of fondant with gumpaste spikes.
Thomas the Tank Engine, also made of fondant.
Lightning Mc Queen on a puzzle:
This puzzle was made from mexican paste - a modelling paste which dries very hard (recipe here). I then cut it out using this nifty sandwich cutter, before painting the image on with food colouring paste diluted with vodka. The outlines were done with an edible marker.
A simplified version of his favourite stacking rainbow:
The Lego blocks were made from Wilton Candy Melts which I set in a Lego block ice cube tray. I also made some juggling balls, a wooden block, and Chick Hicks, from the first Cars movie.
A couple of weeks ago I covered the cake board in grey fondant and fondant dots so it would look like a Lego board. This is a good thing to do well in advance as you really do need the fondant to dry a bit, and so long as you cover it loosely in clingfilm to keep the dust off, it is OK to be stored for about a month.
The hardest part of the cake was definitely the actual toy box! I baked two chocolate celebration cakes in a roasting tin I had (recipe at the end of this post). I then cut the edges off and stacked them on top of one another. I iced them in chocolate buttercream before decorating with chocolate fondant on which I created a wood-grain effect with a pointed modelling tool.
It was a fun cake to make, despite all the work and despite stretching myself a little too thin whilst doing it!
All this talk of chocolate is making me hungry. Is 10am too early for tea and cake?