Alice in Wonderland

After a quiet winter cake season has rolled around again. An early start this year as I saw mention of a local charity event for PAC (Positive Action on Cancer) which included a cake decorating competition. The event was a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party and the cakes all had to be designed on the theme of Alice in Wonderland. Having checked this was an entirely amateur event (I wasn’t fussed about winning but I didn’t want to be embarrassingly outclassed) I was good to go.

Now, what to do? There are so many brilliant images in Alice in Wonderland. I thought about the caucus race but thought it might be a bit obscure. I had almost decided on making a dormouse in a teapot on a table decorated with other characters and images when a last peruse of Google images for inspirations led me to the idea of a teapot cake with a dormouse on top and images from the book decorating the teapot. I decided to make fruit cake rather than sponge as it would keep better giving me longer to do the decoration and made it in 2 pudding bowls to get nicely rounded cakes. I hoped it would rise enough to let me trim it using the edges of the bowl as a guide and it surpassed my wildest expectations.

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I sandwiched the two halves together with apricot jam and covered in marzipan, now for the interesting bit. As I have said before, life is too short to colour fondant icing and Sainsburys do a fabulous shade of purple so that was the base colour. The cake was covered in a plain layer of purple with a trim around the bottom and a rim around the top.

The next step was the dormouse and I have to credit Sadbiscuit for some brilliant instructions which I have only modified very slightly.

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Procrastinating hard on the difficult bits (spout and handle) I moved onto the decorations. I estimated 6 pictures would be necessary and chose the Top Hat, the Cheshire Cat, the “Drink Me” Bottle, the Mock Turtle, the Pocket Watch and a pair of playing cards. This sounds fiddly but was probably the most straightforward bit. The pictures were made of thinly rolled fondant which could just be stuck on with water and the fine detail was drawn with a combination of writing icing and icing pens.

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There was a small disaster with the top hat succumbing to gravity but this was overcome with some propping up.

Onto the trickiest bit, the spout and handle. The picture above shows the final version but this was the second spout and third handle. The key to getting these to work was a balance of weight v. strength plus solid attachment to the body of the teapot. The first effort used dried spaghetti as dowels but this turned out to be completely ineffective. As shown here cocktail sticks worked well together with royal icing as glue.

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The royal icing was a bit messy, particularly as matching the purple wasn’t easy. I tidied it up with ribbons of the purple fondant wrapped around the joints and finished off the whole thing with a lid propped against the side. (I had planned to put it on top but it obscured the mouse too much). Ta daa!!!

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On the day competition was tough and I was pleased to come third. Just look at the well deserved winner with its fabulous attention to detail.

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