The Tyneside is clearly blessed with good taste as its birthday celebrations include a cake competition, with filmgoers invited to represent their favourite film through the medium of sponge. My dad had plenty of suggestions as well as no concept of how difficult these would be in practice. “How about seven cowboys? Or a sledge with ‘Rosie’ on it? Or a hollowed out cake with a rat in it saying ‘whatever happened to baby Jane?” How about going out with your mates to drink upwards of two pints?
A little while back, my cousin Helen saw a photo of a rainbow cake and made one this month for her friend’s birthday.
I thought it looked great and wanted to try making one too. I wondered if there was a well known film about a rainbow, and after a couple of seconds remembered The Wizard of Oz. The seed was sown.
|Helen is a kitchen wiz AND a very talented artist|
Stupidly, I decided to start baking at 11.30pm. I like working uninterrupted through the night. I listen to 6music shows on iplayer so I can at least pretend it’s daytime. A few hours later, and having mumbled “Richard of York gave battle in vain” at least a dozen times, I had a set of colourful cakes in the correct order.
The reason there are two sets is that I wanted to take a photo of the stacked cake showing the colours before it was iced, and decided the easiest way to do this would be to make two cakes.
It was only later that I realised a far easier way would simply have been to have taken a photo of the naked cake before I iced it. Not to worry, the extra cake has been successfully rehomed in Manchester with a loving family and garden access.
The offcuts looked pretty and I kept some blue sponge to make cake pops. One day soon a child is going to bite into a cake pop to find that the inside is bright blue. Then he'll fancy running about a bit.
The taller the cake, the harder it is to cover and knowing that I was going to try something slightly tricky, I covered the cake first in marzipan. Not everyone’s cup of tea but I bloody love marzipan. It means “March bread” and makes for a smoother finish once the sugar paste is put on.
I wanted to do sky blue icing with clouds, something that is relatively easy - you roll out the blue, then drop chunks of white on top and re-roll. It means that you only get one shot at rolling. The marzipan barrier means I could at least whip off the sugar paste and try again without it getting all claggy with buttercream, and I did have to have three attempts. I’m not that happy with the way the cloud effect turned out, but it was 1am and time to press on.
I’d made the shoes in advance and used half a pot of lovely red glitter on them. The shoes presented their own special problem in that when I unwrapped the special cutter I’d bought, clearly labeled Lady’s Shoe, it turned out it did not create a shoe at all but a strappy sandal. Maybe in the cutter’s homeland of Seth Ifrica a strappy sandal counts as a shoe, but it doesn’t in my book and it certainly doesn’t in Dorothy’s. So I had to make the shoe upper myself.
The lettering was fairly simple, just the slow work that tappits involve. Less tapping and more winkling out the letter with a pin. My tappit set only has letters and no punctuation, clearly distressing for a pedant who has to write “we’re”. For the eagle-eyed reader, or any eagles reading, you might spot that the apostrophe is a piece of the letter r.
Lastly the bluebirds. It was 3.30am and I couldn’t decide if I liked them or not and decided to sleep on it while the wires dried. My dad came round the next morning and I asked him straight – “do these look like fish? Or mice with funny lips?” Maybe he’d been primed, maybe he's spent most of his life living with highly strung women, maybe his pub quiz training kicked in, but he hit the jackpot with “they’re bluebirds, aren’t they?” The cake was finished.
I can’t be at the Tyneside Cinema on Sunday for the filmcakefest, but I hope it enjoys all of its cakes. Happy 75th Birthday, and many happy returns!