Three of my friends’ dad turned 70 on 3rd August, and they asked me to make a birthday cake for him for the day before when they were having their family celebrations. He loves cricket, so they decided that would be a good theme for the cake! Other than instructions for it to have ’70’ on it and be two tiers, they let me come up with a design (cricket based, obviously 😉 ) and were happy for me to go ahead and surprise them.
I decided to try and incorporate his date of birth and age into a cricket scoreboard, and googled images of scoreboards to make sure it was as accurate to the real thing as possible. There are obviously loads of variations, but I used one that kept coming up that just had four things on; ‘Total’, ‘Wickets’, ‘Overs’ and ‘Last Innings’. I used tappit cutters for the letters, but the ones I’ve got have little extra flourishes on the tops and bottoms of the letters that weren’t in keeping with the simple font used on the scorecoards I’d seen, so I took the extra time to carefully cut those bits off so that they looked more like the font on the actual scoreboards. His date of birth is 3/8/44, so those were the numbers I used along with the 70 for his age. Coincidentally, we later realised that his date of birth numbers also stand for the number of children he has, the number of grandchildren, and his house number!
I made the scoreboard, cricket bat, stumps, bails and pads all out of fondant a few days before so that they had time to dry. I left the pads to dry on a piece of kitchen paper on a cardboard tube so that they would dry with a curve to them. I attached each of the numbers for the scoreboard to a small black rectangle before attaching them to the scoreboard to look like the real numbers that they change depending on the score.
The bails were quite fiddle to do as they were so small! I scored some lines down a rectangle of fondant and then wrapped it around a thin pipe of fondant that I’d made using an extruder. I made four in case any of them broke, but ended up using the two spare on the top of the cake also.
The cricket ball was made from Rice Krispie treats. I’d never used them on a cake before, but decided to make the ball out of them so that it wouldn’t be too heavy, and also as most kids love Rice Krispie treats! I used the recipe from the Kellogg’s website, but added some melted white chocolate to it to give them a bit more stability. I made the ball in two halves, shaping it in two mini hemisphere pans that I’ve got. Once it was set, I then lined the pans with cling film, put ganache into the pans and then pushed the halves back into the pans and wiggled them around to push the ganache up the sides and coat all of the hemispheres. I put ganache on the top (the bit that would end up being the middle of the ball) and then levelled it off across the top of the pan and left it to set. Once it was set, I covered each half separately in fondant, so that when I put them together you would still be able to see the join, just like a real cricket ball. I joined the two halves using a little bit of ganache in the middle to stick them together. For the stitching, I piped four long lines of white fondant, attached them round the ball, and then pushed into them with a piece of acetate every few millimetres to dent the white fondant and make it look like stitches.
I usually make marshmallow fondant to cover the cake in. I love the taste of it, and on the whole it has been really good to work with. However, I’ve found it a little inconsistent and have had a few issues with the texture of it on occasions, and with light coloured freckles appearing in the colour a couple of times. It is also quite time consuming to make, which would be fine if it came out with perfect results every time, but its frustrating when it just doesn’t go quite right. I’ve read rave reviews all over the place about Carma Massa Ticino Tropic fondant. It’s not very easy to get hold of in the UK (I could only find two distributers in the whole country) but I finally got my hands on some the other week, so this was my first chance to try it out. It was great to work with, just like everyone says, and the taste was really similar to the homemade marshmallow fondant. The only slight issue I had with it was colouring it. It took FOREVER to work the colour in, and because I was colouring a large quantity to cover two cakes and the cake board, it was hard work! I ended up roping in my hubby to knead it in for me after I was ten minutes in! I struggled to achieve the exact colours that I was aiming for, so next time I need to dedicate more time to colouring it, or go for a much paler shade (or even white and not have to colour it! 😉 ) But having said that, it did go on the cake really easily with no elephant skin or tears, so I’m definitely looking forward to working with it again!
The cake had to travel from London where I live, to Wiltshire where the party was (about 85 miles), and was being transported by my friend Jo who is one of his daughters, so I had to make sure it was really stable so it would get there in one piece! I stuck the bottom cake to the cake drum with some ganache, used bubble straws (extra large straws) in the bottom tier to support the top tier so that it wouldn’t sink into the bottom tier, and used a wooden kebab skewer in the top tier to keep the cricket ball in place. I made the ’70’ out of fondant with plastic food-safe sticks in to attach them into the cake, and stuck all the decorations on with water, with the exception of the two cricket pads and bat which I put into a separate box to transport so they wouldn’t get damaged, and could be placed on the cake once it arrived. Once the cake arrived at its destination, they stood the pads and bat up, leaning them against the bottom tier which looked really good – I laid them down for the photos as I was worried about marking the cake before it left! Well done to my friend Jo for getting it there in one piece, and a very Happy 70th Birthday to John! 🙂