Sunday, August 29, 2010

Melbourne cake!

Tomorrow marks the 175th anniversary of the settlement of Melbourne. In 1835, John Pascoe Fawkner found out that John Batman and the Port Phillip Association had signed a treaty with the elders of the Kulin nation. He promptly loaded a ship with people and supplies and sailed across Bass Strait. On 30th August 1835, Fawkner's party sailed up the Yarra River, unloaded their supplies, and began to build a settlement on the place that would become Melbourne.

Right. History lesson done with. I figured that seeing as I'm curating the Melbourne exhibit in the gallery, I should commemorate this historic event in some way (doubly so considering I forgot about the 175th anniversary of the Batman Treaty in June...). And I figured I may as well do it with cake!

So I started with my standard fudge cake, baked in a 22cm square tin.

I printed out a line map from the interweb, and scaled it appropriately.

Then I traced it onto baking paper, and realised that while the template was wide enough, it wasn't high enough. So I made up about an inch of Tasmania's coastline on each side. I think I did vaguely okay!

A couple of weeks ago, I spent a ridiculous amount of money ($45) on this food colouring. My mum had a similar set when I was a kid, and our birthday cakes were always awesome colours as a result. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to give them a test run!

I cut out the baking paper template, and pinned it to the cake.

Okay, technically I needled it to the cake. Because apparently I've managed to leave my pins in Melbourne...

Then I made a crapload of buttercream icing:

I divided it between two bowls, and started with the blue:

This is the amount of Wilton colouring you'd usually need. But considering I had about three times as much icing as usual, it took way more than this. But I forgot to take photos... Also, the icing wasn't really that yellow...

Then it was onto the green:

Aaaaaand I apparently neglected to take photos of the bowls of icing once it had been coloured. Oh well...
Anyway, I iced the sides of the cake, and Bass Strait.

Then I un-needled (de-needled??) the baking paper template, and got out the piping bag. After a bit of piping to mark the edges of the green bits, I went back to the palette knife and filled in the gaps:

Then I got this stuff out of the cupboard. It's a bit scary, and I sure as hell wouldn't use it as the ONLY icing on a cake (it smells positively toxic!), but it's handy for decorating:

Then it was out with the red food colouring:

And these, which I bought at the same time as the food colouring:

I hacked off a chunk of ready-made icing, and kneaded it on icing sugar as directed.

Then it was what felt like an hour of mixing in the red food colouring. I gave up once it got to this shade, even though I wanted it to be much redder:

And cut out a couple of stars to mark the locations of Launceston (where Fawkner's party left from), and Melbourne.

The Melbourne one was bigger. It seemed important, somehow...

Then I grabbed the black food colouring and some more fondant to make a boat representative of the Enterprize (and no, that's not a spelling mistake).

I made a sail out of a a toothpick and some baking paper. The boat's a wee bit out of proportion, but frankly, if it were in proportion, it would be the size of a hundred and thousand, if not smaller. So if it has to be out of proportion, it may as well be dramatic!

And the final touch was the little white blob of fondant in the boat, which is Fawkner. I thought about making a little man out of fondant, but my hands were dyed black and red from the food colouring, so I gave up and made a blob instead.

So there you have it. A very happy 175th birthday to my beloved Melbourne in cake form!! Here's hoping it makes it to work in one piece, and that it tastes as good as it looks...
K xx
PS. The spellchecker just told me that Launceston isn't a word, but Landsteiner is. WTF??

4 comments:

  1. The cake is very cute! I'm sure it got a good reception at work.

    I love your boat. And I'm glad you represented the little man on board :-)

    I've never attempted decoration on that scale... or used anything other than Queen's colouring. So I am highly impressed with your result!

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  2. Hmm, perhaps you ARE the cake queen... I haven't had the reason, time or motivation to play much with sugarpaste, let alone modelling black (=notoriously hard to colour) ships out of it! I want more of my friends to have kids so I can make them groovy birthday cakes and practice, before I have my own kids, so that my own kids' cakes are far nicer! :)

    ~* Ness (at work, can't sign into Google account)

    PS - check out my blog - it's got a new look and I happen to think it's rather groovy
    PPS - "groovy" is the word of the day

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  3. Totally awesome cake. Well done chief cook! I hope that at work they were all very impressed. The bus driver was right this morning.

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  4. Yes, the cake got a very good reception at work. And, as Mumsy said, I got praised on it by a random bus company employee at the interchange this morning - he was particularly impressed by the boat!

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