Rugby Union 70th Cake

Last year a friend asked me to make her Dad’s 70th birthday cake in February. Can you believe that there are only 3 days left in February? I definitely can’t. But it means I have made my second cake in 2015! And this cake came with its challenges!

I love how with each cake I seem to learn something new, or need to research a new technique or a solution to an issue. I always ask my family or friend what they would like the cake to look like and this time my friend came back with quite a specific cake – a blue 7 and a yellow rugby ball as a zero so it looked like a 70. The blue and yellow were to be the colours of Nedlands Rugby Union Football Club. That didn’t sound too bad until she mentioned that it was for approximately 60 people! Michelle's Labyrinth Rugby Cake

My biggest dilemma was how to make a 7 and a rugby ball feed 60 people. I went into Cake Tinz and Things and they had cake tins for a 7 and an American rugby ball, but looking at the tins they looked like two normal sized cakes, in other words would feed about 15-20 people. So I asked the lady what I should do to turn the cake into one that fed 60 people – would I need to put the 7 and rugby ball on a slab of cake? She said 7 and ball would feed 30 (coffee* serve) and that I would just need to make a 7 inch square cake for the additional 40 servings – I have learnt this spare cake is called a ‘kitchen cake’. A kitchen cake is an undecorated cake that looks exactly like your cake when cut and is cheaper than a decorated cake. By also making a kitchen cake, it would save me from the hassle of using cake supports in a stacked cake. But what would my friend think? And would she be happy with coffee serves?

I gave my friend 3 options and sheMichelle's Labyrinth Rugby Cake decided on dessert* serves and she was happy to have a square kitchen cake too and asked for a birthday message on it as well. With the 7 cake I also decided to carve it from a large square tin, because I didn’t think the 7 tin looked very wide and I also wanted to ensure the height of the 7 matched the length of the rugby ball. I would like to thank Tanya from Coxie’s Cakes for suggesting that! So my next challenge was baking, carving and covering!

*Coffee Size: 1 inch x 1 inch x 4 inches (2.5cm x 2.5cm x 10cm)
*Dessert Size: 1 inch x 2 inches x 4 inches (2.5cm x 5cm x 10cm)

I was very happy with the baking and carving. I was surprised I carved the 7 so straight! And I also carved a layer under the rugby ball tin cake and shaped it like an actual ball. The covering of the rugby ball was also a success and I was happy with how smooth it was – until 30 minutes later when a bubble appeared in the fondant with a diameter of approx. 7 cm! I couldn’t believe it. So I pricked it and tried to squish the air out and it didn’t look too bad. But then a little while later another bubble appeared! This time when I pricked it the air wouldn’t come out so I tried to smooth the air out of the bottom of the fondant, but it caused creases in the fondant. A frown appeared on my face! As this was happening I was also trying to cover the 7, which of course had issues itself – it was hard to get a smooth fondant covering on the inside of the 7 without splitting the fondant. I was so close, but no cigar. I got a tear in the fondant. I think at this stage I decided to put my feet up because they were killing me. When I got back up there was another bubble in my rugby ball! It was well past bedtime and I couldn’t stay up all night popping air bubbles, and I couldn’t leave the bubble overnight because the fondant would harden and wouldn’t be pliable – so I cut a slit into the bubble. I got all the air out, but it didn’t look pretty at all. I left it to morning to sort out.

Michelle's Labyrinth Rugby CakeMichelle's Labyrinth Rugby Cake

When I was first imagining these cakes I was unsure how to ensure the yellow rugby ball would be identified as a rugby union ball. So I Googled – my saviour. What did we do before Google? And decided I would make it a Gilbert brand, which is the brand used by Nedlands Rugby Union FC. To keep it to theme I put blue strips on the ball – the strips are wider than the actual balls, but it sure hid the bubble flaws well! I thought the ball turned out quite well. Phew!

The 7 was a bit of a dilemma. I was unsure whether I should leave flaws on the 7, or try to cover it with a square on fondant – which would identify I didn’t do the best fondant covering. I finally opted for the square covering and depending on the angle you look at the cake, it wasn’t terrible. I can say it was a huge relief when the cakes were picked up! I also got a lovely message from my friend when she saw it – I was so relieved! But yesterday I saw a photo of the cake and the fondant looked a little worse for wear on the outside of the 7! Ahhh!! My friend and her hubbie still seemed so happy, and her hubbie even said the cake was “created by the ever so excellent cake creating master sculptor funky icing artisan Michelle”… how nice is that!? :)Michelle's Labyrinth Rugby Cake

So I learned some new termsMichelle's Labyrinth Viking Cake about cakes, I had some happy friends but I also had left-over cake! I was having lunch with an old friend on Monday so I decided to make a simple cake and I put some Viking Helmets on it – for two reasons, the first being my friend’s sons (‘B’ and ‘C’) love Horrible Histories so I thought Vikings would go down well, and the second reason being that one of my sister’s friends has asked me to make a Viking cake in March. I am so excited! I love Vikings, so I had Vikings on the mind and thought a couple of helmets would be cute. My friend’s boys loved the cake and the helmets and they even put the little helmet on their heads! Seeing kids loving my cakes and hearing my friends really appreciating my efforts makes the long nights, stresses and sore feet worth it! So here is to some exciting cakes in my the near future! I also hope you have some things to look forward to in your lives, it is so important to have something to look forward to – it is a key to happiness! That and cake is also a key to happiness! :)Michelle's Labyrinth Viking Cake





My First Wedding Cake: Part 1

Friday night I finished my first weddingMichelle's Labyrinth cake. It was epic! Am I allowed to say that? In epic I mean it was great in size, the duration of time invested was extensive and I was a little heroic attempting a 3 tier cake with lots of flowers!

I’ve been through all my photos including the photos I took during theMichelle's Labyrinth creation of the cake and I want to share about thirty photos! So this blog post may be in a couple of parts (I don’t want any of your web browsers crashing!). We’ll see where my writing takes me, like my cakes I only plan to a certain extent and then see where my imagination goes!Michelle's Labyrinth

I was so excited when I got the phone call from the bride-to-be asking if I would make their wedding cake. What an honour! And even more excited when she said she would like fruit cake. I love fruit cake, but it seems that the younger generations like it less and less. I love dried fruit; I love cake… so what’s wrong with combining them! Add brandy, a chocolate frosting and then fondant icing and are you still not tempted?!

I spoke to the bride and her daughter in November about the cake to see what she had in mind. I knew the wedding was to be Hawaiian themed and was really hoping the bride liked frangipanis as I can make them! I had spoken to my cake decorating instructor and she recommended 3 tiers for the number of people attending the wedding – a 6 inch, 9 inch and a 11 inch. So I browsed the internet for tiered frangipani cakes and took some pictures to show the bride. I also took my pink frangipanis and purple roses and her daughter (who turned 4 this Michelle's LabyrinthJanuary) was very impressed with my frangipanis! Phew I had one tick of approval! The bride pretty much said it was up to me and a yes to frangipanis as she already had some arranged for the tables. She also showed me this head-piece as she was thinking of something similar for her daughters.Michelle's Labyrinth

I had planned on starting to make some frangipanis in December in preparation, but just ran out of time with work, Christmas functions and even Christmas cakes (and I am still yet to show you all of them!)! When we got home from our UK trip the end of January I was a little inundated with work again. It’s always the way after holidays, you take 3 weeks off and it takes 3 weeks to catch up! So the end of the first week of February I made the fruit cakes and then each day going forward I made flowers, leaves and some ribbons to go with my flowers!Michelle's Labyrinth

I proceeded to make a lot of frangipanis and I would have them sitting in an egg carton filled with cornflour for a couple of days – cornflour dries the fondant out quicker so then you can colour the frangipanis and use them! When I had a couple of dozen done I attempted some roses. It was May 2013 when I made 3 roses in class and haven’t done any since. I was going by my notes – which made sense at the time! So I was a little dubious if they would work out. Roses need to be made in 5 stages so you can let the petals harden and ensure they have attached to the bulb, and then the next row of petals attached to the inner ones and so on. At each stage I made a few more frangipanis in 4 different sizes, just in case the roses didn’t work I would have plenty of frangipanis.

Each time I had to go out everythingMichelle's Labyrinth would be moved from the kitchen table to the kitchen bench to ensure 2 little furry ones did no damage. Each afternoon I would move everything back to the kitchen table so I would not get into trouble if hubbie had no room to make dinner! Plus working from the kitchen table was so much easier on my back and feet. It’s easy to do flowers sitting down!

The puppies always sleep with us. Hamlet has taken to sleeping between our pillows. I think he was sick of us kicking/moving him in the middle of the night when we couldn’t straighten our legs. Macbeth is even more sensitive and sleeps under the bed! Hamlet is a very good sleeper and since we have put an anti-bark collar on Macbeth he is not so sensitive to noise (small noises are not worth barking for!). They usually do not get up until we do so I have been leaving my cake stuff on the kitchen table overnight.

However the Saturday before the wedding we must have had a little lie in and I heard some barking downstairs. Like a good Mum I know their different types of barking and knew they were playing – but with what? So I quickly got up, and I do not do anything quickly first thing in the morning… I got to the bend in the stair case and saw flour on the bottom two steps and leading across the timber flooring to the kitchen, so without panicking too much I followed the mess and found two puppies who looked like they had been snorting cocaine (we had just seen The Wolf of Wall Street so cocaine was fresh on my mind), an egg carton the right way up and with most of the cornflour still in it – but with no frangipanis! To make it worse it was my 18 egg carton and you don’t get them too often and it was perfect for my frangipanis! So I am not sure if I was more upset with the 18 more frangipanis I had to make again, or that I had to get a new 18 egg carton and more cornflour! But it was pretty much a night wasted as I needed to make more frangipanis. Darn those puppies – I am not sure where their sweet tooth came from!Michelle's Labyrinth

I have been asked how long it took me to make the cake and it would have been over 30 hours. I knew it was more than 20 hours, but figured I might as well try to work it out. Of course as I made each stage of the cake I had a movie or show playing. So I added all the hours from the DVDs and it came to over 30 hours – that’s not including some Mork & Mindy I watched nor any shows I may have forgotten. Just as a side note – Robin Williams is just hilarious in Mork & Mindy – there would have been no show without him and his hilarious diatribes!

I do try to watch shows that are along the theme of the cake I am making – so of course I tried to think of shows with weddings and also about love. I started my journey with BBC’s 2008 version of Sense & Sensibility – which is a beautiful version of it even if I doesn’t have Hugh Grant & Emma Thompson. This was followed by BBC’s 1972 version of Emma which is lovely and you get to know the characters well after 4 hours, but Emma comes across as quite stuck up compared to Gwyneth Paltrow’s soft funny portrayal, but I know the story so am quite happy to listen to it in the background.Michelle's Labyrinth

At this stage I really wanted to watch BBC’s 1995 version of Pride & Prejudice – well I love Colin Firth and it ends with 2 weddings! However 2 little furry guys have eaten my DVD remote and Pride & Prejudice’s DVD doesn’t automatically start with “Play Movie’, it starts on ‘Scene Selection’ and you just end up in a loop if you press the Play button on the DVD box. I was devastated! It was the perfect movie for this cake! I made up for it and watched Bride & Prejudice that night instead (Bollywood’s version!) and then the American 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightly today while I was choosing which photos to include in my blog!

As you can see I am Jane Austen fan! But after 3 Jane Austen type shows I needed a change and decided to find some love stories. First up was Ever After: A Cinderella Story – Anjelica Huston is the perfect wicked step-mother! Then The Princess Bride which is such a favourite of mine. Whenever I think of this movie I think of Cary Elwes and Robin Wright’s characters and true love! However I always forget Fred Savage’s part of the movie which is just beautiful and how wrapped up he gets into the story even though he wasn’t interested in hearing it to start with. If you haven’t seen it for a while I highly recommend it! And then you’ll have a huge chuckle over the many humorous characters (“Anybody want a peanut?“) and how well the story is portrayed! (I even more so recommend reading the book as it goes into the background of all of the characters and Inigo Montoya’s (Mandy Patinkin) story is enchanting. “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.“)

I think by this stage I was startingMichelle's Labyinth to ice my cakes – which is a long enough process as it is with fruit cakes. To get the perfect fondant cake the frosting underneath needs to be perfect, which means you should fill in any holes of your fruit cake with fondant so you have a flat surface to frost. As you can see fruit cakes have lots of holes! And I just had a thought, I should have covered the fruit cake with a thinner layer of frosting. This time when I covered my cakes I ended up with a few bubbles and also some cracks the night before the wedding and I am wondering if that was because I put on too much frosting. The purpose of the frosting is so the fondant sticks to the cake and really for no other purpose (except chocolate takes yum!). This thought only occurred to me right now, because as I was writing how I filled in the holes and I realised that the cake’s surface should then be quite flat! I think this needs further experimenting…

I am ending Part 1 here, but I thought I may get in big trouble if I didn’t show you at least one photo of the finished cake – so here it is and a close up on the flower topper!Michelle's Labyrinth

Michelle's Labyrinth






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