Thursday, 25 April 2013

A Cake fit for a Princess!

Well, we did it. We actually managed to bake a cake that a) looked pretty good, and b) was edible.

To my knowledge, no one who ate a bite of cake ended up either in hospital or face down in the toilet for several hours, and no police officers called on our door to arrest us for attempted bakery (i.e. pre-meditated mass poisoning), so on all accounts it could be considered a pretty good first attempt.

I wrote last week about my trepidation as we braced ourselves to plunge into a world of sugar frosting and cake-carving chaos (see To Bake, or not to Bake...). I really was not looking forward to the task, given our complete lack of experience in baking anything other than pre-made mixtures of bog-standard "cake-in-a-box" goodies.

As it turns out, I need not have been so worried.

We had already decided to make a cake in the form of one of Lydia's favourite CBeebies characters, IgglePiggle from In the Night Garden. IgglePiggle is a more or less man-shaped creature who is entirely blue from head to toe, save for some sprouty bits of red hair, and completely naked. This meant we didn't have to fiddle around with multiple colours or worry about different layers. In essence, it meant making a blue cake and sticking some hair on it.

The Night Garden is a strange forest world populated by characters called IgglePiggle, Upsy Daisy, Makka Pakka, the Tombleboos and many other bizarre things. To be honest, I'm not really a fan of In the Night Garden. For me, it's a little too much like the Teletubbies in that it's main characters are weird creatures that cannot speak properly or even say anything other than their own name. Each episode is also incredibly dull as they seem to do the same thing every time. However, Lydia loves it and gets excited at the sight of Makka Pakka pushing his odd little tricycle around or Upsy Daisy "singing" into her megaphone, so it seemed like a good choice for the cake.

Just before the end of last week, I raised the possibility to Chris of making a simple cake and then shaping an IgglePiggle out of marzipan (or icing) to sit on top. Fortunately for both of us, she agreed with this idea and we set about making the cake on Saturday afternoon, the day before Lydia's birthday, while my parents kept the little monkey busy.

I made the cake itself earlier in the day, using a simple Victoria Sponge Cake recipe I found on the Internet. I actually made two cakes and sandwiched them together with a layer of jam and some home-made buttercream, before coating the top and sides of the double-decker cake with more buttercream.

Chris had been to a specialist baking goods shop in Lausanne on Friday and picked up some white, blue and red packs of ready to roll icing. Using my watching mum's advice, we carefully rolled out the white icing and placed it over the top of our cake, then carefully folded the sides down and chopped off the jagged corners.

The making of IgglePiggle
Having made our simple cake, we then took on the task of making IgglePiggle.

This was the toughest part as we were using blue icing instead of marzipan, which is very fiddly to shape without cracking. Eventually, we managed to piece IgglePiggle together on top of the cake, sitting down clutching his red towel. We added some cubes made out of more blue icing and drew Lydia's name onto them (in edible ink).

Finally we rolled out a red ribbon to go around the cake and added a red star with a 2 on the front (Lydia's age), then hid the cake in our room where Lydia's curious eyes wouldn't find it.

The finished cake
When all the guests were gathered in our living room on Sunday, with Lydia - in full princess regalia - sat comfortably on the sofa, we brought the cake round and sang "Joyeux Anniversaire". To my delight, not only did she join in with the song and look happy doing so, but she also recognised IgglePiggle straight away. Phew!

It was great that Lydia liked her cake, and that it looked like what it was supposed to look like. At the end of the party, there was still more than half the cake left over and I hadn't bought any party bags to hand out to the guests, so the cake has formed part of my daily diet ever since.

I think it should be finished by this time next week.

Just for those who don't know who IgglePiggle is, this is him (left) compared to our version (right):

OK, so it isn't perfect, but I'm pretty proud of it!