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This bespoke 1st birthday cake was quite different to any we have done before. Our dear friend wanted one that was woodland themed, with woodland animals and toadstools. The inspiration photos with the animals, tree logs and leaves she sent me though were all of fondant covered cakes. They were cute, but it’s not our medium.
Another complexity was that the whole cake was to be made of 8”, 6” and 4” layer cakes but not in tiers. Instead they would be individually decorated as logs and placed on a board to set the woodland scene. Decorating fondant cakes and placing them on a board is straightforward. However, doing it with buttercreamed cakes wasn’t quite as! Queue lots of finger splashing, awkward handling, and swearing.
I hand-modelled the fondant animals earlier in the week on prep day so they have time to set. Prep day is a day in the week when I don’t do any orders as such but work on all the bespoke cake decorations in advance for the week. This is why we need at least two weeks’ notice for confirmed bespoke cake orders. One week to get any tools, moulds or special ingredients delivered. And another week to schedule the preparation and any fondant modelling in.
I made a raccoon, a fat fox, a bunny, some burrowing bunny bums and a few owls. I also made a bunch of toadstools.
Decorating the freshly baked cakes was always going to be done the day before delivery. But as with all bespoke cakes, there is that feeling of unrest and anxiety that things might ‘eff up’ and there is no spare time or spare cake to re-do or fix. So yeah, the PRESSURE each week ages me by a year at least.
I mixed all the buttercream colours I needed - a light beige for the logs’ cross section, a dark chocolate for the bark exterior, green for grass. I layered the vanilla and chocolate cake sponges with the beige buttercream. The outside was covered with the dark chocolate buttercream. I then etched the grain and knots of them with a modelling tool. I had to do each size one by one. They look great!
But now came the issue of how to move them onto the board without smudging the buttercream. Ideally, I would’ve chilled the cakes for the buttercream to set before moving them to the board. However, our fridges and freezers were full and so I had to move them all soft and squishy and my heart was in my mouth.
Using a palette knife I carefully lifted each decorated cake and placed onto the big cake board. I won’t lie, there were a few blemishes. But I quickly fixed them with a bit of buttercream patching and they looked pristine again!
I piped grass all over the board. By sprinkling a bit of crushed cookies along the edges of the board gave the woodland-scape a bit more depth.
Placing the animals and toadstools was the most fun bit as this is where the cake comes alive!
Technically, the brief was met but there was something missing. The logs looked a little bit bare so I went back to mixing a few more autumnal colours of buttercream and piped fallen leaves on.
I think I’m going to have a hard time letting go of this cake because I absolutely love it! I hope Solaris does too (but she’s just one so probably won’t even know!).
Lots of love,
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