Pumpkin’s birthday party was booked at our local Soft Play Centre. You may remember the invitations I made a while back. Coming straight after show-week, we’d booked it there to keep the organisation to a minimum for us, whilst the kids still got maximum fun. They provided the venue, the fun and the food. All I had to do was bring the cake!
We’d picked up on the castle theme for the invitations, and so the cake followed suit. I began with my usual chocolate cake recipe and baked two square cakes and two loaf tin cakes to get the shapes I needed. The square cakes were both levelled, cut into quarters and then stacked to make the towers, whilst the two loaf cakes were trimmed and buttercream-glued together to make a neat oblong which formed the centre part of the castle.This whole structure was placed on a thick cake board and plastered in a chocolate buttercream crumb coat. I ended up making enough cake to feed around 50 people! With hindsight I probably could have planned a bit better and worked out a smaller construction, but given the time constraints and post-show exhaustion, it turned out pretty well nonetheless, even if we were eating cake at every meal for about a week afterwards!
The trickiest part was covering the whole thing in fondant. I covered the middle section first as that was the easiest, just a long strip laid front to back, and then I contemplated the best way to cover the towers, given their awkward shape and height and their taunting sharp corners. It’s probably a piece of cake (hah!) for an experienced cake decorator, but I’ve pretty much only covered round cakes in fondant before.
I tried to cover the first tower in one piece, but trying to get the corners neat and work in the extra folds of fondant without it tearing in the process was a real fiddle. I ended up with a couple of folds and creases that I wasn’t terribly happy with but it was just about ok. The worst of it was at the back anyway.
I took a different approach with the second tower. I cut a square for the top and then a separate long rectangle to wrap around the sides. I pinched the join together tightly and it looked a lot better than the first tower. Thankfully the whole thing was tidied up a lot when I then added the crenellated strips around the tops of the towers and across the centre.
I mixed some white fondant in with the grey to make the door and window frames so they’d look more like stones and stand out a bit against the uniform grey walls. I made a drawbridge using melted dark chocolate which I spread on some baking paper and then added a wood-like texture using some modelling tools.
I wanted to break up the plain grey walls a bit, but didn’t want to mark on every individual stone in a brickwork-like effect, so I looked back at the invitations and the printed stonework. I took a simple number cutter and used the square end of the number 1 to make indentations into the fondant in small clusters to give the effect of the stonework. It was really quick and easy and I think ended up looking quite effective.
I finished the whole thing off with some blue fondant to make a moat and piped green buttercream to make grass, using a grass piping nozzle. It was still missing something, so I made up a cake pop mixture with cake crumbs from some of the trimmings and leftover buttercream, and modelled a small dragon shape. Once it had set in the fridge I used red fondant to cover it and add details. He was pretty cute!
With more time, I would have liked to add more details, but as it was, I was very pleased with the finished cake. Pumpkin was delighted with it, which is of course the whole point, so I was happy. The other children at the party loved it and I got some lovely compliments from the other parents too.
I will certainly try to keep my cakes to a more sensible size in future, but it was rather delicious too, so there weren’t too many complaints in our house about cake galore!