Ted's favourite book was one of the Ladybird 'Baby Touch' series of books, which feature a cheerful tiger called Tickly Tiger. I rashly decided that I would attempt a Tickly Tiger birthday cake. Not only would I be making my first attempt at using fondant icing, but I would be creating a stripy sponge cake beneath too. AND I had invited 22 children (plus their mums of course) to a birthday party. What could possibly go wrong?!
In the event, thank heavens, nothing went wrong. The cake 'worked', and was actually pretty tasty, the sun shone, and we all had a lovely afternoon.
The finished cake, complete with the book that inspired it.
I ordered the orange and black fondant from a seller on eBay and actually found it remarkably simple to use. It's just like playdough! I also had a couple of cake-decorating-experts on hand (via FB messaging) to help me out with the technicalities such as putting a 'crumb coating' of buttercream around the cake before icing to stop any crumbs getting into the fondant (thanks Kirsten and Kath!).
The stripy interior.
I had spotted a recipe for a stripy 'Zebra Cake' in a Lorraine Pascale baking book I'd had out of the library, so looked it up online. I found it on this blog post, for which I offer my thanks to the author. It was perhaps the messiest cake I've ever made, as I filled piping bags with the different batters and dolloped blobs of each on top of each other... and blobs all over the kitchen table too! However, as you can see, it was brilliantly effective. I flavoured the paler cake mix with orange oil and the brown one with cocoa powder to make a chocolate orange cake. The buttercream around the edges was also chocolate flavour.
Ted and his little local friends are real country lads and lasses, and are all completely tractor-obsessed. Their DVDs of choice feature Little Red Tractor (follow link for youtube episodes, it's actually really funny!) and the beloved Tractor Ted, full of real-life farm footage; I've learnt a lot myself from them! So what else could I make, but a tractor cake? I went for a pretty simple option: a very easy chocolate cake (an Ed Kimber recipe from BBC Good Food) made with oil instead of butter which made it moist and a good keeper, sandwiched together with half a tin of dulce de leche. The other half of the tin went into the chocolate buttercream with which I covered the entire cake. Two Cadburys Flake bars were then crumbled on the top in an approximation of a ploughed field (a very abstract approximation!) and a fondant-modelled Tractor Ted was placed on the top.
This Tractor Ted took me HOURS and I still wasn't quite satisfied with it...
But the birthday boy seemed happy! His face lit up when I brought the cake out.
I finished off the chocolate dulce de leche buttercream by putting it onto some very simple vanilla cupcakes and topping them with edible gold stars and rice-paper tractors (purchased again from an eBay seller) to add to the general tractor theme.
So half of this blog post is very belated, but I'm quite impressed with myself for managing to blog the second birthday only a week after it happened...