Sometimes I think the best cakes are those with lots of details - often it's not the intricacy of each item but having lots of simple details really makes a big impact. This cake I made for my very good friend Laura I think illustrates this really well:
As you may be able to tell from the theme of this cake, Laura loves making crafty things, particularly bold and striking cushions - take a look at her blog Always Have A Plan B to see some of the beautiful creations she makes. When her boyfriend Slim asked me to make her 30th birthday cake, we both knew that there had to be some kind of crafty element involved. I also had to make part of the cake cake gluten free so I suggested a cushion and a gluten free sewing box and Slim agreed it sounded like a great idea. He sent me some pictures of the cushions she has made but we agreed that rather than copying one exactly, it would be nice to do one in her style. I was placing an order for some edible butterflies (incidentally for Laura's mum's 60th birthday cake a couple of weeks before) and I saw these edible mexican skulls. As soon as I saw them I knew I had to find a way of using them in a cake. I sent the link over to Slim and he said it was just like some material Laura had used in one of her crafty projects as I added them to the order and waited patiently for them to arrive from America.
To carve the cake I followed a tutorial on Cake Central. I started with a 10" chocolate and Baileys cake which I cut into just two layers and filled with Baileys buttercream - this would give me a handy guide for the halfway point when carving the cake. The first step was to mark the cake with cocktail sticks one inch in on each side:
This gives you a guide to score a curved line to mark the basic shape:
Then using a large serrated knife held vertically, cut out the curved edge:
From this basic shape I used a serrated knife again to carve the edges to make nice domed top. Then, carefully flipped the cake over and carved the other side to give a cushion shape:
I was surprised how much smaller the cake ended up once it was carved - if in doubt, start with a bigger cake than you think you need.
Once I was happy with the shape, I covered the top of the cake with a layer of buttercream and covered this with teal coloured sugarpaste and trimmed to the half way mark round the edge- this would be the underside of the cake:
I then carefully turned the cake over again and covered the rest of the cake with a layer of buttercream and the pale yellow coloured sugarpaste for the top:
Using the line of the teal sugarpaste underneath as a guide I trimmed the edges to match and eased together to make a neat join. I could have used a thin sausage of sugarpaste around the sides to look like piping but that's not Laura's style so it was slightly trickier to make the join clean but it just needed a little patience.
Then to finish the cake, I brushed over the top with pearl lustre dust (anyone that knows Laura knows I had to get some glitter in somewhere!). I also added a strip of teal sugarpaste which I went over with a quilting tool to look like the stitched hem of the opening for the cushion. The final touch was to add the skulls using a very thin brushing of edible glue:
Once it was finished I added it to my custom made board:
Next I turned my attentions to the sewing box. This was a 6" gluten free chocolate and Baileys cake which I cut into two to make the box and lid. I put the lid on a separate board and covered it to look like a pin cushion top. I made a ridge round the edge of the box from marzipan and covered this with chocolate sugarpaste to make it look like the inside of the box for the cotton reels to sit in. I covered the sides with teal sugarpaste and some edible butterflies for decoration:
Then to bring everything together I made lots of cotton reels and buttons to fill the box. The cotton reels were very straightforward, made from fat sausages of sugarpast that I rolled a knife around to score a pattern to look like thread, then ends were added on using edible glue and short lengths of dried spaghetti. To make them look like they were inside the box I cut them at an angle before sticking on to the middle of the box. I rolled a long length of white sugarpaste and drew on numbers and rules to make the measuring tape. My favourite bit of the whole cake was the scissors that I modelled on my mum's old dressmaking shears - I think they turned out really nicely and looked quite realistic.