Mr. Kitchen Hand had commissioned a cake to farewell a couple of colleagues who were moving to a different department. We decided on the idea of “jumping ship”, with the guys being left on a dry, boring island (new dept), as the rest of the group sailed away on the party boat (old department). Nothing like sticking the knife in ☺
To save time, I decided to build a diorama rather than a proper ship. I used one square cake, two loaf cakes and a sheet cake to complete the whole scene. The cakes were just simple pound cakes (vanilla and chocolate) baked from recipes in The Cake Bible. I use these cakes because they’re quick and easy to bake, store well, hold their shape under the weight of the icing, and most importantly – taste good!
Here’s a bit of a peek into how I went about making the cake.
I used modelling paste to make all the figures, the palm tree and the “railings” on the boat. Everything else is covered in RTR (ready to roll) icing, also known as “plastic” icing - doesn’t sound very appetising does it? Truthfully, the taste of the icing is too sweet and I always urge folks to peel it off before eating the cake but most people eat it anyway (probably for the sugar rush).
The starting point for the figures, and my tools
Usually, I just cover the cake with the RTR icing, but recently, I came across the fabulous book by Paris Cutler – Planet Cake. In the book, Cutler reveals the secret of achieving a supersmooth finish is a ganache layer first under the icing. So I gave that a try.
I made the "sea and sky" separately from the "boat" shape. These have been covered in ganache and left to set
After covering each part separately, I put them together with more drinking straws to hold them in place
I do think I should have put on a thicker ganache layer, but it certainly helped with the smoothness. The only drama I had was when I accidentally rested my hand on one part of the cake, melted the ganache underneath and took away a chunk of icing (yeah, I’m hot stuff). And it was a bit of a pain trying to keep the chocolate from marking any white icing, but I’d definitely use the technique again.
Once I was satisfied with the overall cake, I used royal icing to pipe on the finishing touches.
Pa-Dah! One farewell cake. We ended up calling it the “Paradise Lost” cake. Yes, it’s wonky and my piping skills need work, but I had lots of fun, and the recipients were very pleased with it!