For my second 60th birthday cake in as many weeks, I was asked to make a cake in the shape of a lifesize record deck, for a man who used to run his own record shop. I was certainly up for the challenge, although I had to admit to Kathryn who ordered the cake that it wouldn't be LP size, as the biggest cake I could make was only 12" square (anything bigger won't actually fit in my oven). Having said that, a 12" cake serves 72 portions which was more than enough for the amount of people going to the party. It ended up as a lifesize 45rpm record player instead:
For this cake I tried a new recipe for Chocolate Mud Cake from my Home Guide To Cake Decorating book. This is a lovely rich moist chocolate cake, and with over half a kilo of dark chocolate, half a kilo of butter and 1.2kg golden caster sugar it's not surprising it tastes good. I added some finely grated orange zest to the cake batter and filled it with my chocolate and cointreau meringue buttercream. Yu-um is all I can say. And I don't even really like chocolate that much. (Just in case you're wondering, there are always trimmings of cake leftover when I level the top of the cake, I don't just cut a sneaky slice out of the middle and hope noone notices)
After I had filled and levelled the cake I covered it with a pale yellow sugarpaste. I worked the edges with my cake polishers to create a sharper edge to look more realistic. I then left this overnight to firm up.
The next day I started off with creating the turntable. I found a cake tin with the right proportions to use as a template for the base. I don't like to use black sugarpaste very much as it has so much colouring in it that it doesn't taste very nice, so instead I created a turntable out of marzipan and covered it with grey sugarpaste brushed with silver lustre to make it look metallic. I then rolled the record as thin as I could make it from black sugarpaste and added it to the turntable with some edible glue:
Next up was adding the label in a nice bright red and the central spoke which was secured with a short length of dried spaghetti:
I left this to firm up before adding the writing and got on with creating the arm of the player. For this I used a cake dowel covered with grey sugarpaste and brushed with silver lustre to create the main part of the arm. I then made the head from black modelling paste and fixed with a combination of edible glue and dried spaghetti. I think I was a little naive or just plain not thinking properly when I added a needle made from floristry wire - there was no way that that this would hold up the weight of the arm and show on the final cake, duh.... Anyhow, here's the completed arm, which I left upside down overnight to firm up with a ball of clingfilm to support the handle:
The rest of the cake came together fairly easily, with some details added made from black modelling paste. I also wrote the label was using an edible pen.
The trickiest bit was adding the arm. I made the arm hinge in two parts with a section hollowed out to fit the arm in between:
The final dial was secured to the back using a couple of short lengths of dried spaghetti:
And with that the cake was finished:
But my challenge wasn't over yet. I seemed to recall saying on more than one occasion that I would never take a big cake up to London on the train and tube again. I clearly need to listen to my own advice more carefully as this was the heaviest cake I've ever carried, let alone during rush hour and standing waiting at Victoria Station for 20 minutes while they closed the entrance due to overcrowding. I had given Kathryn advance warning that the cake was heavy, and to prove it I even weighed the boxed cake on our bathroom scales - it came to 1 stone 2.6 pounds, even I was shocked. It's also darn awkward to carry, I must invest in some kind of cakemobile, at the moment I'm thinking of a suitcase strapped flat to two skateboards and a long handle to keep it travelling level - anyone got any other ideas???
Aside from the awkward journey up to London, it was a sturdy cake and made it there in one piece. Kathryn collected it and took it home on the bus ready for Paul's party. She said it was exactly what she'd hoped it would look like. Paul - I hope you had a fantastic 60th birthday party, sorry we couldn't make it, but hope the cake makes up for it!