Recipe: Secret Garden Birthday Cake

16 May

For a super special lady.

This weekend gone it was my boyfriend Josh’s mum (Leonie)’s birthday. Leonie’s 60th birthday in fact and something special was in order. So on Thursday, Josh and his sister – Simone – and I got cracking on a cake which we hoped would look just like her garden. Leonie’s garden is beautiful just like the scores of cakes she has made over the years for Simone and Josh’s birthdays.

To say we were scared of ending up with a cake-wreck on our hands is something of an understatement. We assembled at my flat armed with bags of icing, chocolate fingers and enough food colouring to send an entire school class doo-lally. We listened to happy songs, shouted at Question time when it came on the telly and laughed along to clips of The Day Today as we worked and boy did we work. All in all it probably took the three of us about 5 hours to finish the cake. By the end of it Josh looked clinically depressed,  as he made pebble after pebble from icing sugar dipped in silver iridescent food colouring,  I don’t think he has a career in baking.

But by midnight it was ready and we sealed it in a heavy-duty box ready to transport to Winchester the next day for Leonie’s party. The cake went down a treat and much back-slapping between the three of us star-bakers ensued. Leonie deserved nothing less than this dorky cake although Howard (Josh and Simone’s Dad) gets a ticking off for being unable to resist the chocolate fingers post-pub when he was more than a few shandy’s heavier. (We forgive him really!)

I am not sure I can remember how we made each part of this cake so can’t really give a full recipe, but I will summarise what we did below. If you want to make a special cake, all I can say is just do it! It will take longer than you think, but you’ll be better at it than you think. Good luck!

– The cake was a 6-egg mixture made with about 350g of flour, caster sugar and butter. The tin was very deep so it took ages (more than 40 minutes to cook) on about 180Oc.

– We used a block of ready made green icing to cover the cake, Simone used a pin to roll it flat and carefully covered the cake.

– The grass was made from desiccated coconut which we dyed green with food colouring. A beaten egg was used to help ‘stick’ it to the cake.

– The fence, which we placed all around the cake, was simply chopped-up chocolate fingers, stood up in piped-chocolate icing at the base of the cake. We ate far too many fingers so had to space them out widely. But as Howard knows, they’re fricking addictive!

– The pond is simply blue iridescent icing. The tree is a flake and green icing, cut into leaf shapes. The cat (it’s a cat, not repeat, not, a panda) is made from icing – white and black – that has been rolled and shaped.

– The pebbles are rolled balls of icing dipped in silver powdery food colouring and the flowers are icing (dyed about four different colours) stamped into flower shapes and decorated with tubes of icing to make the pollen. The shed was made from chopped nuts and a tube of chocolate icing.

– Although it’s not in this picture, we also used chocolate letters to spell out ‘Happy Birthday’. Bit of a cheat, but hey!

For days before we baked it, Simone and I were super scared of making this cake, but it was such fun. Well done to Josh on some excellent sugar-craft work, high-fives to Simone for pulling it off and once more to Leonie: happy happy birthday!! xx

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4 Responses to “Recipe: Secret Garden Birthday Cake”

  1. Haitchjg May 16, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    Shandy! Wot are you trying to do for my reputation…………er, maybe I should rethink that after Friday night as along with a certain wig and several synapses its already pretty frayed at the edges

    • wouldliketoeat May 16, 2010 at 9:54 pm #

      Ha ha ha! Those wigs were wonderfully classy. I hope you have fun eating the rest of the chocolate fingers – have you tried the flowers yet? Erin seemed to like them enough… x

  2. Judy May 23, 2010 at 11:27 pm #

    Hi Hannah

    Wow – you three are the new fab four. You did a great job and I know Leonie was thrilled!

    See you soon – can’t wait!

    • wouldliketoeat May 25, 2010 at 7:23 am #

      Hello! Thanks so much- it was fun to make (apart from Josh who looked horrendously bored) but took us aaaages. Well worth it though! Can’t wait to see you, take care, Hannah x

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