It was Melissa's birthday way back on 19 October, but the week of her birthday we had so much leftover cake from the Indulge Sussex stall we held that at the time it seemed crazy for me to add another to the cake mountain. So finally, six weeks later I was able to make Melissa's birthday cake, and I wanted it to be extra special as she had waited so long. It was also an opportunity for me to really push myself to try something new and I had the perfect challenge in mind.
Anyone who knows us will probably have noticed that Melissa and I live in Converse boots. I'm a little embarrassed to say that between us we have at least 8 different pairs of Converse in the house. Well I decided that 8 wasn't quite enough and for Melissa's birthday cake I would make her a pair of edible Converse made out of carved cake.
Here's how they turned out:
I was so pleased with this cake and think it's probably the best one I've done yet. Here's how I made it:
I started off with an 8" square lemon madeira cake which I filled with lemon curd buttercream (I didn't bother to level the top as it was going to be carved anyway). I put the cake in the freezer for about an hour to firm up for carving.
Meanwhile I found a picture on the internet of a Converse sole and adjusted it in Photoshop to the right size. I then cut out a template from baking paper and used it to cut around for the left boot:
Using the same template I flipped it over for the right boot:
I created bases from a cereal box covered in foil using the same template. I used buttercream to secure the cake to the bases:
Then using pieces of the leftover cake I added the top of the boots and secured with buttercream:
I pushed a couple of dowels down into each of the heels to secure the back of the cake while I was carving it. Then using a sharp paring knife I started to sculpt the shape. It's best to go little by little as it's easy to take away but much harder to add back on if you take too much. Here it is about half way through:
The toe section is still too high so I need to be a bit braver . Must try not to eat all the cake trimmings while I'm doing this....
Done. Now I'm happy with the shape they are ready for a layer of buttercream:
Getting the buttercream smooth was really time consuming as all the surfaces are curved. I used a small pallette knife dipped in a glass of hot water and lots of patience! At this stage they look more like wellies than converse but I have faith. The cakes then went into the fridge to firm up the buttercream before decorating.
In hindsight, I wish I had left the cakes in the fridge a bit longer as I decided to make the sugarpaste sections freehand as I went along, using baking parchment held up against the cake to create templates. The parchment kept sticking as the buttercream was still a bit soft. I had to be really careful when placing the sugarpaste on as if I got it wrong it meant resmoothing the buttercream before trying again.
Using a real Converse boot as a guide (as you know we have many kicking round the house), I figured out the order for which layers had to go on first, and started off with a piece to cover the top of each boot:
Next came the tongues. I made a template with parchment first and cut out the shapes with a cutting tool - this looks like a mini pizza wheel and helps to cut the sugarpaste evenly without pulling out of shape (which can happen when you use a regular knife):
You can't really see it in the picture, but I used a teatowel to make an imprint to give a fabric texture but rolling over the towel onto the paste with a rolling pin. I also added some detail using a knife making small indentations round the edge to look like overlocked stitching:
Then I added the tongues to the cakes and trimmed the sides at the front once they were in place:
Next I made another parchment template for the sides, using the same template I flipped it over for the other side of the boot. Once I had cut the shape I used my new quilting tool to make the stitching:
I then used a piping nozzle to cut out the eyelets:
I used some silver lustre dust mixed with a little vodka to make a silver paint and painted the inside of the holes before securing to the sides of the cakes:
It's now starting to come to life and look like a Converse trainer. Next up I added the toes and the trim round the edge, which I did in two pieces to make life easier.
Time for some colour now and the red trim makes all the difference. I also texturised the piece round the toe by making a criss cross pattern with a small knife:
Another bit of colour was added with the blue trim and the All Star logo on the heel. I didn't have any deep blue royal icing so I made the lettering with a very thin sausage of sugarpaste fixed on with edible glue:
By this point the end was in sight but I had been on my feet for hours and needed a break. So I sat on the sofa with a tray in my lap and made the laces in front of the TV. I rolled a rectangle of thin sugarpaste and texturised it with a criss cross pattern made using the side of my small pallette knife. I then cut thin strips of this to make the laces. Back at the work top I attached the strips using edible glue starting from the bottom, placing one end in the eyelet hole and then trimming to the edge to make it look as if it went underneath the side piece:
Then the final detail was to add the round Converse logo to the sides of the boots. This called for the tiniest piping work I've done to date. Strictly the logo should have gone on the inside but I used a little artistic licence and placed them on the outside so they would read better:
Converse boots cake - done!
All in all I think this cake took about 9 hours to make, carve and decorate, but I was so pleased with the finished cake. There's plenty of detail and I think they look pretty close to the real thing. Melissa was really pleased with them too - I hope they were worth the wait :o)