Boo’s 3rd Birthday
Hungry Caterpillar Cake:
I made this cake for Boo’s 3rd Birthday based on one of her favourite books (basically I didn’t feel ready yet for attempting a 3D Gruffalo and this seemed a much simpler option).
I used a pound cake recipe, including the chocolate chips to make the sponge more exciting. Although the flavour and texture of the cake was an overall success – it was moist and firm, but not too dense – I found that the chocolate chips all sunk to the bottom of the tin, resulting in a (not too unpleasant) chocolate crust to what would become the top of the cake. If I were to follow this recipe again I would probably try and dust the chocolate chips in flour first to see if that would prevent them sinking. Not entirely sure that would work, or why I thought of it but worth a try maybe?
To make the caterpillar I cut the ring cake into half and then cut one of the halves in half again. I arranged these in the caterpillar shape using the book front cover as a guide before covering and sticking together with buttercream. I had already mixed a combination of green sugarpastes (some with a little white, some with a little yellow) to roughly resemble the caterpillars colour scheme, and had rolled these out and cut out 20cm long triangles. I then covered the cake with alternate colours making sure that the thin part of the triangle was on the inside of the cake ring/bend with the widest part going over to cover the outside of the cake ring/bend. I used some leftover sugarpaste wrapped in clingfilm too rub down the cake and smooth out the joins before cutting off the excess around the edges.
I had purposefully done the construction away from the iced cake board so as to not dent or damage the smooth white surface with all the constructing, smoothing and trimming etc. So it was on attempting to transfer the iced cake onto the board that I discovered my biggest blunder – a mistake that would have been quite obvious if I had just employed some common sense. With the cake in 3 parts (held together only by some overworked and rapidly drying sugarpaste), I realised that I didn’t have an implement bigger than a palette with which to transfer the cake across. As a result, with 90% of the cake unsupported gravity took over. The different cake parts all moved in different directions and the sugarpaste covering ripped all over the place.
I then spent the next 60mins doing a rather bad repair job trying to patch him up and make him look semi respectable (hence the low resolution photo to hide my sins), even managing to gouge a couple of chunks out of my pristine iced cake board with my knuckles in the process.
At this point I had kind of lost the will to carry on, plus it was now heading close to 10pm. But I still had to make the Caterpillar’s head. The original plan was to just whip up a quick sponge?!?!?! But, it was now too late and I was far too tired. So instead I resorted to cheating and covered an upside down mini pie pot, first in a layer of marzipan (left over from Christmas) to smooth out the edges, and then in red sugarpaste. I used yellow and green discs of sugar pasted cut out using cardboard templates for his eyes, and the same in purple for his ears and feet – all stuck on with Grandma White Sofa’s trusty Bacardi.
So the end result was not exactly as professional looking as I had probably hoped. And yes, what I had imagined would be a fun project ended up being one of those jobs where you just had to knuckle down and get it over the line. But I know I am probably my own harshest critic and the look on my little girl’s face when she saw her cake on her Birthday was definitely worth it all.