Wednesday, 11 January 2012

The Cake That Groaned

Usually January is a pretty miserable month - everyone's dieting, cutting down on the booze and the party season has been long forgotten as we all try and figure out how to make it through to the end of the month after overspending at Christmas.

Well last Thursday night defied convention with a cracking launch party for the new graphic novel, The House That Groaned by the super talented Karrie Fransman.  The party was held at the Gallery in Foyle's, the iconic independent bookshop on Charing Cross Road in London and the room was full to bursting.  That Miss Fransman sure does know how to throw a party.  There was a magician, animations, characters from the book were working the room with big papermache cartoon heads, delicious canapes handmade by Karrie's mum and lovingly carried down from Edinburgh in her suitcase, and a room buzzing with fascinating people.  I was thrilled to have been asked to contribute to the festivities by baking a cake in the shape of the house itself.

Here's how it turned out:

Photo (c) Sabrina Dallot-Seguro
I was really excited that while Karrie was busy signing books, for once I actually got to cut the cake!

Photo (c) Susan Yan Mach
Although it could never compete with the multilayered, twisted adult fairytale that is The House That Groaned, I would like to share with you the story of The Cake That Groaned.

One windy afternoon, two days before the party, a couple of chubby packs of butter made friends with some golden caster sugar, a few eggs, some real vanilla and a cloud of flour.  Once they had thouroughly gotten to know each other in the bowl of a shiny red Kitchenaid, through the magic of bakery these ingredients gently rose in the warm oven of a basement kitchen in Brighton and a delicious 10" vanilla madeira cake was born.

As with all my cakes, I left it well wrapped overnight to settle, and the next day I split it into 3 even layers ready for filling.  The book itself uses different tones of blue throughout, so I thought the perfect choice would be a wild blueberry jam for the filling, which complemented very nicely with the real vanilla cake and Italian meringue buttercream.

I cut a two inch section from the side of the cake and fixed it to the top of the cake with a smear of buttercream, trimming at an angle to create the shape of the roof.  I then gave the whole cake a thin covering of buttercream and covered it with blue sugarpaste:

I then had some fun with my new brick texturing tool to create the brickwork pattern over the top and sides:

Next up I created the texture of the roof slates using the end of a piping nozzle.  I also added the chimneys, secured in place with a short length of dried spaghetti and some edible glue:
For the windows I had cut out rectangles of yellow modelling paste and left them to dry out before drawing on the room scenes with edible pen.  Once the ink was dry, I fixed them to the cake using some edible glue.

Karrie - if you're reading, don't look too closely at the drawings, I am definitely not an artist!  As with all my cakes, it's about capturing the essence of the object I am recreating, not an exact depiction...

I finished off the cake by adding the window frames and doors and it was ready to travel 50 odd miles up to London to the party.

Here it is, next to the book itself:

And I'm pleased to say that I had some great feedback on the cake.  Most of it had gone within about 20 minutes so that's got to be a good sign.

If you've not bought the book yet I can highly recommend it.  It's a cracking read, exploring the themes of body image and desire through the larger than life characters that live in a crumbling down house.  Take a look at the book's website to meet the characters and order your copy. 

Enjoy xx

No comments: