The cake was going to be picked up on the Friday, so I had to work backwards when everything should be made:
Friday morning - final decorations to be added
Thursday - make buttercream, fill cake, cover with marzipan and sugarpaste, make decorations, cut and cover 3D numbers
Wednesday - bake cake and leave to settle overnight, make rice krispie cake and refrigerate overnight, shop for ingredients
Although it's not flat out work all day, some people are surprised that it takes 3 days to make a cake, which is why it's important to give any cake maker as much notice as possible so that they can plan to be free for those 3 days!
Making The Cake
Slim has an intolerance to wheat, so I had the opportunity to try out a new recipe for this cake - something I love to do, but always requires a bit of faith and finger crossing to ensure it turns out right! The recipe I had chosen is for the Autumn Wedding Cake in Harry Eastwood's Red Velvet & Chocolate Heartache which handily is already designed for a 10" square cake so I didn't need to worry about scaling up a smaller recipe. It wasn't perfect though, as the flavours are Orange and Elderflower which was just a bit too girly for this handyman cake. So I adapted the recipe and changed the flavour to lemon with a hint of orange thrown in for good measure. Perfect.
The slightly annoying thing about this recipe is that it requires the zest of 12 lemons and 2 oranges which becomes quite grating (excuse the unintential terrible pun) after about the 4th fruit. Plus you're left with all those zested lemons to use up, but being the frugal housewife I am, I made them into a lovely batch of homemade lemon cordial which I used in the cake and some zingy sorbet - yum.
What I do love about this cake (and other recipes in Harry's book) is that it's much better for you than your average cake, without comprimising on flavour. It contains no butter, less sugar than normal and very little (gluten free) flour, instead replacing them with ground almonds and a small mountain of grated vegetables.
The result is a very tasty, moreish, super moist cake that is sturdily perfect for the job of being covered with sugarpaste icing. Whilst I'm sure I can convince you on the taste, there's no denying that cake batter itself looks like was beaten with the ugly stick:
Still, don't let this put you off - have faith and you will be rewarded with a delicious cake in a couple of hours's time.
Once the cake is baked I always leave it overnight, well wrapped, to settle - this makes it much easier to cut the horizontal layers the following day.
While the cake was in the oven I made the Rice Krispie Cake for the first time since I was about seven - it was a tip I'd seen on the TV show Cake Boss where you can use layers of Rice Krispie Cake to create trickier shapes than you can create with cake. It takes just a couple of minutes to make then it must be pressed down firmly and refrigerated to make it nice and firm for carving the 3D 30 for the top of the cake. Easy peasy.
Assembling The Cake
The following morning, rearing to go, I whipped up a big batch of lemon buttercream to fill the cake. I levelled the top, then flipped it upsidedown so that what was the bottom of the cake gave a nice flat top. As it was quite a moist cake I wimped out of cutting into 3 layers and just split it in half and filled with an extra generous layer of buttercream:
And then smoothed a thinner layer of buttercream over the top and sides:
The cake was then ready for a covering of marzipan, which adds flavour and helps give a good base for the final layer of sugarpaste. I smoothed down the sides and trimmed the edges, then brushed with a little lemon cordial to make it tacky:
Then to colour up some sugarpaste - I used Sugarflair Egg Yellow:
I was always told to use just a very small amount on the end of a cocktail stick. Well this colour needs a lot of cocktail sticks' worth of colouring to give you a nice yellow. I got a little frustrated with it so I moved onto the red instead to see if that was any better. In hindsight I might have been better using a shovel than a toothpick for the red - it took me more than an hour of kneading, adding way more colour than I thought it would need each time and then it still turning out a very disappointing pink. Tip for next time - buy red ready made! It will save an enormous amount of time and frustration.
Still I got there in the end and finally covered the cake with the yellow paste and added a red trim to finish it off:
Making the 3D 30
The Rice Krispie Cake had firmed up nicely in the fridge overnight and was ready to be carved. I made a template out of paper and cut out the numbers:
I did a base layer of white sugarpaste over the numbers to make it smooth, then brushed with a little cordial to make the next layer stick and added pieces of red on top:
I wanted to make it look like Mini Slim had built the 30 so I added some extra cuts to look like it had been made from pieces, then made some screws from grey sugarpaste with the end of a piping nozzle:
I made small indentations with a ball tool and secured the 'screws' in place. I couldn't find any edible glue in my cake supplies shop so instead I used some vanilla extract and a fine paintbrush. I then used a small knife to add line for the head of each screw:
Making Mini Slim
I've not made a person out of sugarpaste before but I was really looking forward to this bit. I thought my original idea of having Mini Slim sawing some wood was a little ambitious for a first attempt, so instead I decided to have him sitting on top of the 30 holding a screwdriver, having finished his handymanning.
Having coloured up some modelling paste in a denim colour (I mixed Sugarflair Liquorice and Ice Blue) I rolled a long sausage shape, cut a triangle out of the middle and folded in half to make the legs. I made some trainers from white sugarpaste and fixed these pieces in place where he was going to sit:
Then I made his top - to match the blue hoodie Slim was wearing the last time I saw him (the cocktail stick helps keep it sturdy and is for attaching the head):
I then followed this very handy video for making the face (if you do watch it I highly recommend turning off the sound - don't say I didn't warn you...):
I then added some hair (made using a garlic press as I don't have a clay gun), a teeny pencil for behind his ear and a screwdriver for his hand:
I made a few more tools and a toolbox which I secured with a little more vanilla extract the following morning, and the cake was complete. I then went mad taking dozens of pictures from every angle. It's a good job Mini Slim is a natural in front of the camera and a very happy model.
Despite being decapitated in transit to the party (darn cake box wasn't tall enough) I hear Mini Slim survived being eaten and is still alive and well back in Preston Park, with his toolkit at the ready for his next DIY job.