Early February a friend of my youngest sister asked if I would make a cake for her friend’s birthday. When she mentioned that she wanted a cake with a Viking ship on the cake I was sold! And to seal the deal the birthday girl has her own shield design that I was asked to put on the cake, possibly as a sail. I was also happy she wanted the ship to be on the cake (as opposed to being the cake), I have seen many carved cakes and I wanted to do something more delicate and without the worry of cake carving!
We decided to put the shield on the sail and that I would make the sail out of paper (due to time and cost constraints). Because I am always in front of the computer I started playing with the shield early. I am glad I did because it didn’t print very well on my printer, so I made the black blacker and the red more red. I also didn’t want the sail to be white – I didn’t think Vikings ship’s sails stayed white for very long, if ever at all! So I made the white part of the shield transparent and then tested printing the shield on various backgrounds to hopefully get a sail-like look.
My next decision was what figurehead should I give the ship. I automatically thought of a mermaid, but after some research found out that Viking ship figureheads were menacing in their appearance with bug-eyes and gaping jaws. The figureheads were seen as having a more protective function of warding off spirits rather than just being ornamental. So after browsing through many photos I finally found this photo of Floki from the TV Series Vikings hugging his boat, so this is where the inspiration of my dragon figurehead came from.
I had fun making the other little parts of the ship. I made the oars from skewers and the mast from a couple of dowels and I even painted them (and the string on the mast) with some food colouring to make them darker. I then painted the shields. I really wanted to have the shields on the side of the ship because they added a bit of colour. The shields would only have been tied over the oarports when the ships were in port, and not when the ships were actually sailing. The shields were essential for protection in battle and Vikings would not want to risk dropping them overboard! I told this to my sister’s friend and she said she acknowledged the shields weren’t entirely correct, but it looked cool anyway!
Time came to make the cake and cover it in water. It was then that I realised I made the ship a little bigger than I originally thought I would, so the ship sat over the edge of the cake a bit. This made my original idea of the waves splashing up the front of the ship a bit hard, plus I still hadn’t worked out how I was going to do that and I didn’t want to hide any part of my figurehead. So I thought I would marble the blue fondant with white so it looked like the ocean, but I was wasn’t having a good day and the fondant just would not marble. So I just covered the blinking (yeah I was getting frustrated by this stage) cake with blue fondant. Then I got a tear in the fondant that I just couldn’t fix so I needed another plan!
I put the tear at the back of the cake, but it didn’t look great and I knew people would be looking all around the ship. So I had an idea of covering up the tear with the wake of the ship. I had better luck marbling smaller amounts of fondant and then I added some bubbles. I thought it looked pretty cool so I added some waves on either side of the cake to finish it off. I hope you like my waves!
I originally toyed with the idea of making a couple of Viking men for the ship, but really didn’t have the time to make them. So I played with a couple of Viking Lego men and took a few photos. I then had fun with photo editor!
Last month my Dad said he didn’t know how I had the patience for cake decorating, but I find it quite calming sitting there, moulding or painting with a movie on in the background. I think it is has been quite good for me because I sometimes need to think of ways to cover up mistakes, or new ways to do things if they don’t work the first time. There are no mistakes in accounting, you just have to get it right (although that can take some time reconciling!). So it is a new type of thinking for me, which is exactly why I wanted to do something creative in my life – to help me think outside of the box!