For the last two years Bryony's birthday cake has involved bees in one form or another. Back in 2009 there were the bees that wouldn't set, and then last year I was actually in China on her birthday but left a tin full of baby beehives for her and my family to enjoy. This year we were away for her birthday at Rob and Rhona's wedding, so she had to wait until today for her birthday cake.
As you may remember, one of the presents I got for my birthday was a book on how to make sugarpaste characters for decorating cakes. Over a few weeks I had fun making pink elephants, pigs, and mice. So my plan was to put these new found skills to use in decorating Bryony's birthday cake.
Among the many cookery books we have in the house there are two on cake decorating written by Debbie Brown (Magical Cakes and Lovable Character Cakes). A quick flick through both books and the cake started to take shape in my head. The magical cakes book included a large dragon wrapped around a castle, and given Bryony's love of dragons I knew that would work well. I was, however, unsure if I could pull of both an elaborate shaped cake as well as a large sugarpaste dragon. Flicking through the other book, I came across a cake in the shape of an open book with Barney (yes, the purple dinosaur) sitting on it. The book appeared to be easy to make and ice and so my idea was to make a spell book from which a baby dragon had just been summoned.
So I set about buying the necessary ingredients and equipment. There was a cake box and board, orange, black and white sugarpaste, some edible glue, paint brushes and a pot of gum tragacanth to help the sugarpaste hold it's shape. As I had hoped, icing the cake was fairly straightforward although I'm sure it could have been neater. Making the dragon, however, was quite a challenge.
I hadn't realised quite how long the gum tragacanth would take to work and so I started to make the dragon's head while the sugarpaste was still too soft. In the end I gave up and scrunched it back into a ball and left it to harden for an hour before trying again. The wings were also tricky as I had to shape them and then leave them to harden overnight before I could glue them onto the dragons back. All told it probably took me somewhere between 4 and 5 hours to fully assemble the cake, but the look on Bryony's face when she saw it for the first time this morning made it all worthwhile. I just hope it tastes as good as it looks!