The challenge for this cake was to create it for my housemate, Clê, without her knowing. Clê is wonderful to live with; she is clever, witty, caring and just the right amount of bonkers, but she is also one of the most single minded people I’ve ever met and thus it is very hard to get her to do something she doesn’t want to or she hasn’t thought of herself.
For her birthday last year, my other housemate and I decided to throw Clê a surprise birthday party. Now, in principle it was a great idea and we secretly invited the guests while buying and stashing party accoutrements like squirrels preparing for hibernation. Then came the real challenge – we needed Clê out of the house, not only on the day of the party so we could set up but also the night before, so I could make a cake. As I mentioned, it is not easy to make Clê do anything she doesn’t want to and so it happened that a web of lies ensued to create a fanciful story to get her out the house. We had to enlist a mutual friend and together we managed, just, to get her out with the lure of Nando’s chicken, her Achilles heal.
When not being stubborn, Clê likes to fill our house with all sorts – pretty trinkets, Victoriana and interesting books. I once came home to find a mirror decorated with skulls hanging on our wall; she had found it on the street. Another time I refused to let her bring home a stuffed beaver, but, I digress… It was hard to know where to start with a theme for her cake, she has a lot of interests and a lot of them are striking and visual (great for cakes) but there were so many options to choose from. After some careful thought I decided to do something with a Babushka doll theme due to her large collection of Russian dolls that have made it into almost every room of the house.
My initial idea was to make several doll cakes in different sizes going right down to a cupcake for the smallest. In the end I could only guarantee that she would be out of the house for a couple of hours so I had no time for multiple bakes. I set about with a standard 8 inch circle cake and with red and yellow fondant icing and a bit of writing icing I came up with this:
The lovely thing is, despite Clê’s stubbornness, we managed to keep the whole thing secret. She had no clue. She was shocked, surprised and grateful. And she loved her cake – it was worth the hassle in the end.