For my latest commission I was asked to make a birthday cake for a one year old boy called Albert. His bedroom is decorated with woodland animals so his mum asked me to create something along the same theme as the centrepiece for his first birthday party.
I had so much fun designing this one and creating the cute creatures to go round the outside. Here's how it turned out:
I started with a classic vanilla madeira cake, filled with raspberry conserve and italian meringue buttercream which is just the lightest, super smooth and utterly butterly creamy buttercream you can make. I started making it a couple of months ago - it's a bit fiddly but I will never go back to regular buttercream, it pales in comparison.
Once I had covered the cake with a thin layer of buttercream and cream coloured sugarpaste I had a blank canvas for my design. As I was decorating this cake freehand, without any moulds or cutters, the first element I had to get in place was the tree. I rolled a layer of chocolate brown sugarpaste and used a funky new impression mat I bought which gives a tree grain texture when pressed into the sugarpaste. I then cut out the tree shape freehand. I deliberately made the tree longer at the top and bottom so that I could get it in the right place and then trim to size.
Next I added the grass trim round the bottom of the cake using the same technique as in the footballer cake I made a couple of months ago. It's good to have a pattern, ribbon or trim of some sort to go round a cake as it really finishes it off and also hides any little imperfections that you may have from trimming the sugarpaste that covers the cake.
Then I had lots of fun creating all the woodland creatures that went round the side of the cake. I wanted them to be bold and graphic but not too cartoony. I chose a few complementary colours and made everything freehand as I went along, starting with a cunning fox:
You can just about see the wee hedgehogs on the right. There was also a bluebird flying, a few red toadstools and a badger:
And finished off with another bluebird and an owl on the top of the tree:
I created the texture on the owl's belly using the top of a piping nozzle at an angle. I also used a different piping nozzle to cut the circles for his eyes - I find them so handy and probably use them more for cutting out sugarpaste than for piping!
I then finished off the cake with a big number one and Albert's name. I had planned to write Happy Birthday, but I think it would have looked too crowded and decided it was better to keep it simple:
When I came home the other day the answerphone was flashing with a lovely message from Albert's mum saying how much she had liked the cake and that it really made a great centrepiece for Albert's first birthday party. It's so nice when people take the time to say thank you, I put a lot of love into the cakes I make and it makes it all worth it when you know your creations have made somebody happy.