Outlaw Triathlon Birthday Cake

DILEMMA: What do you do when you need to bake a celebration cake, but don’t have the time to bake and decorate a fresh sponge in advance of the event?

SOLUTION: Bake a fruit cake. It can be baked days/weeks in advance and still keeps well. It also provides a firm forgiving base for rushed decorations

In this instance we were all heading up to Nottingham for a long weekend to support my husband in what will be the biggest challenge of his life – the Outlaw Triathlon – the closest equivalent to childbirth in terms of pain and endurance he will probably ever experience (I say without a glint in my eye, honest).

We as a family have all lived (& sacrificed) though the last 30 weeks as he has trained tirelessly in preparation for the 2.4 Mile Swim; 112 Mile Bike; and 26 Mile Run that make up this event. In the process of working towards this goal he has also raised over £2,000 for Charity (split equally between the worthy causes of Cardiac Risk in the Young & Children with Cancer) which is amazing in itself.

But hang on, the Outlaw Triathlon falls 2 days before his birthday – how am I supposed to whip up the annual Black Forrest feast that has become the staple Birthday fayre for Mr Jaques (see earlier posts on Retro BFG and BFG 2 if you want to know more) with no time between returning from Nottingham and his birthday morning.

Hence, why I decided to bake a fruit cake (the weekend before) using the recipe on this site which doesn’t necessarily need to sit for weeks to mature. Hardly the seasonal norm I know (it being neither Christmas, nor Easter or anywhere in between), but along with it’s ability to taste better with age (rather than going dry and stale in 2 days), I thought this dense, rich sponge packed with dried fruits and nuts would also be a good start to replacing the 6,000+ calories he’d have burnt off during the race.

I only left the baked cake a couple of days before covering it in a layer of marzipan. Having only covered a cake with marzipan in the depths of winter or in early spring when there is still a chill in the air, I hadn’t realised how unmanageable marzipan can become when working with it in the onset of a heat wave. Overall the covering was a completely botched job with rips and tears all over the shop as the marzipan gradually turned more into an almond soup than a workable paste. Not to worry though, smooth it down with some leftover marzipan wrapped in clingfilm and cover it in sugar paste when we get back from Nottingham, and no-one will be any the wiser I’m sure.

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Needless to say that all the training paid off and Mr Jaques completed the race in great shape in 13 hours and 8 minutes – an astounding achievement considering the 30 degree heat that day and I am very proud to now be able to call my husband an Outlaw. If you want to find out more about my husband’s Outlaw journey including his own account of the race and his preparation to get there, you can read all about it on his Outlaw Blog. I have also added some photos to this post which I took that I hope in some way capture the amazing atmosphere at Holme Pierrepont that day – my favourite part being watching Paul crossing the line hand in hand with our two girls.

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Which leaves only one thing left to do – decorate the birthday cake (once we got home late on the Monday) in homage of this great accomplishment. First things first, I covered the cake with a layer of white sugar paste (glued down with apricot jam). I then cut the cake top design out of orange and dark grey (made from mixing black and white) sugar paste, using a template I made from printing out and tracing around the Outlaw Logo off of the interweb (apologies for any copyright infringement if any Outlaw folk are reading this). I then cut the letters out using my letter set and I SQUISHED all the wording on the side of the cake in as even and straight a manner as one can muster at 11.30pm at night. it’s a very basic design I know (due to the tight timescales), but I think/hope the thought and effort was appreciated.