Pills, Powders, Lotions and Potions

Victorian medicine cupcakes – yes, I’ll admit, it’s a fairly niche theme, even by my standards, but this Halloween I found myself furiously researching Victorian medicine aesthetics to come up with designs for Kill the Beast‘s Halloween party.

My first foray into dramatic baking is documented here where I created a Victorian wedding cake for their last immersive theatre party. Well, this year I was challenged to come up with something fitting for the ‘Black Market Ball’ where guests were told to dress up as Victorian aristocratic plague victims and to come to the ball to try and find the cure from the mysterious Talismen… With that in mind, I set up shop as ‘Patisserie Pharmacie’ offering an array of delicious cupcake-cures available exclusively at the ball.

After much googling of Victorian medicine, I wanted to offer four ‘cures’ in different forms – pills, powder, lotions and potions and to use blue and white as a colour theme to make sure the cakes looked good together. This was the result:

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Medicine cupcakes


Yes, I did make the man in the sweet shop count out all the blue Smarties from the jar…

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These were my favourite to look at and the most time consuming to make – you try sticking on little pill sweets to 25 cupcakes, making each one different and see how long it takes! I think perhaps they were the most obvious cakes but pleasing none the less. I should add that I also made the posters for the ‘Pharmacie’, inspired by ridiculous posters from that era where one dose of anything often claimed to cure all your ills.


Half way through making these, adding the bubblegum sherbet, I did think ‘it’s all gone a bit Breaking Bad…’ unintentional, I assure you.

PowderThe powder holders were teacakes wrapped in icing coated in blue sherbet.


I was inspired by Neil’s Yard products for these ones:

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These were my favourite flavour wise – the ‘cream’ was cream cheese frosting atop a vanilla sponge.


You must take the dose all in one, appreciating the refreshing solution but do not consume the vessel with which it is contained.

black market-0737I agonised long and hard about these ones – I really wanted to make potion cakes and to put a shot on the cake (they contained sherry, if I was being all Heston I could refer to them as ‘deconstructed trifle’…!) but I fretted about putting the inedible bottles on the cakes. I did quite a lot of research into edible glass bottles and sugar sculptures but didn’t have the time or skills to make what I wanted. I decided to use the little plastic bottles, to put a warning on my signs, and to tell people not to eat the bottles (but the bottle tops were edible). These turned out to be the most popular cakes – it seems the unmarked potion is irresistible to the curious mind.

I’ve certainly never made so many cakes at once; it was exhausting but I really enjoyed the challenge. My favourite part was researching Victorian medicine, reading about all the weird and wonderful ‘cures’ and coming up with the designs that could be translated to cake.

Here are selection of cake related photos from the evening, but I should add that the cakes really were a very small part of a much bigger, delightfully gruesome and theatrically decadent affair, which I was very happy to be a part of.

Black market ball

With thanks to Andrew AB for the fantastic photos.


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