Music Cakes

Until recently, I worked for an orchestra, and having studied music at university, I am a little wary about overusing musical symbols in decoration.  Once upon a time I had a colleague who absolutely hated musical paraphernalia and so it was drilled into me that using musical notation for anything other than music was distasteful.  In my opinion there is always place for a musical sticker or treble clef pencil, but, each to their own, I appreciate that for some, it can seem gaudy.

Three years since working with the lady who hated all musically decorated things, I was asked to make a party cake to serve over 50 people for a retirement party for three professional musicians.   And while her voice was firmly in my head, I had to do it.  I had to go there.

My brief wasn’t too detailed– it had to be a big cake.  I knew the retiring trio and set about making a cake that would include their nicknames – Cat, Jan and Koggy.  This was the result:

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The ditched music stand (next to a blob of black fondant)

Originally, I wanted to place a sheet of music on an icing music stand in the centre of the cake. I made the music stand but decided it didn’t look quite right so I made the ‘Peters Edition’ style front pages to include their names and instruments. I hand drew all the manuscript using rice paper and edible ink before chopping it up to put around the outside.

I was really happy with the choppy manuscript effect – the front pages of the music were a little messy for my liking but without an icing printer it was the best I could do.  Also, in my slightly tired state, I managed to write ‘violin’ for Koggy where she is a viola player.  I still kick myself to this day.

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The Three Disgraces (self named) and their cake

 

A while after making this cake, I volunteered to make another for a charity fundraising evening called Made in Mind.  The organisers asked if I could do something piano related and immediately the old music paraphernalia decoration issue popped into my head.

Eventually, I decided to use the same idea for the edge of the cake as I liked it so much the first time. This time I even remembered to take a photo of the edible manuscript before chopping it up:

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To finish the cake off I made a keyboard to on the top (a handy colour scheme as I had been making a lot of penguin cakes around the same time…). IMG_1895So there we have it, a few musically inclined cakes, which I hope are tasteful enough not to offend… I’ll have to go back to my old colleague and find out.

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Trumpet cupcakes

I’m ashamed to say it has been over a month since I last blogged.  That is not to say it has been over a month since I last baked, on the contrary the oven has barely had a rest, I just have had no time to sit and write.

Stories still to come

Stories still to come

I’ve already mentioned that I have a day job, alongside which I do this which leaves little time for the baking cupboard to be opened and the creative cake muscles to be flexed. However, in the last few months I have squeezed in midnight baking sessions, the result of which are many unwritten cake stories – an ice-cream cake, hen party cakes (although one set of hen party cakes is perhaps too tasteless for this blog), Airfix cakes, 1-hour challenge cake, French dark chocolate cake, owl cakes and an amp cake, but today I am going to tell you about my friend Angie and the cakes I made for her birthday last year.

Angie and I met during an internship when I was fresh out of University.  We quickly bonded over a shared love of big hair, music and Marmite. We only worked together for a few months but have stayed in touch ever since, meeting up to share stories, drink gin and play music.  Angie has many interests and is very easy to think of cake themes for, in fact the challenge was to decide on which theme to go with.  As she is a fantastic trumpet player (she plays in the brilliant band Patch and the Giant) I decided to recreate a similar idea to the trumpet cupcake I had previously made on a much larger scale to take to her birthday picnic.

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I decided on cupcakes rather than a big cake covered in trumpets as it is always easier to transport and distribute cupcakes. The little trumpets were made from marzipan sprayed with edible gold paint finished with little gold sugar balls.

I also originally wanted to include little accordion cakes as Angie is the only person I’ve ever seen play trumpet and accordion at the same time:

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But unfortunately I ran out of time to figure out how to make convincing little accordions… there is always next birthday!

I can highly recommend Patch and the Giant, for many things including wonderful music, a multitalented trumpet/accordion player and just a bloody fun gig.

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King Porter Stomp Cakes

In a previous life I had a job at the Globe Theatre where I worked on the music in the shows. It was a mad and brilliant time where I lived and breathed the Wooden O.  The last show I worked on was The God of Soho (yes, the Globe doesn’t just produce Shakespeare) which was a weird and wonderful new play set in Heaven and Soho; a witty commentary on our obsession with celebrity culture.  Anyway, this show was unusual for us in the music department as we hired a pre-existing band to play in the show, rather than putting a band together.  This band was none other than the amazing King Porter Stomp, a fantastic 7-piece band from Brighton who were incredibly fun to work with.

KPS had requests so far away from the usual Globe music requests  – ‘can you get a piece of wood for my guitar pedals?’, ‘I think we need a movable platform for the drum kit…’ rather than, ‘have you seen my sackbutt?’ or ‘can you help me move the viginals?!’.  They also wore some of the most brilliant musicians costumes to grace the Globe stage – Hells Angels inspired full leathers in white and black – these guys plus lots of questions and comments the production threw up made it one hell of a fun show to work on to say goodbye to my time there.

So, anyway, cake? Well, Press Night is a big deal in the theatre and typically we would get the musicians a little gift to say thanks and ‘break a leg!’.  The instruments the guys play in King Porter Stomp are sax, trombone, trumpet, guitar, bass, drums and vocals and I had an idea to make a little personalised cupcake for everyone based on their instruments but also on their costumes.

This:

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Became This:

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I had to make the marzipan instruments about 4 days in advance of the cakes; my day job was brilliant but left me with absolutely no free time when there was a show just about to open.  I remember being in the kitchen around midnight getting frustrated with the little trombone as I really needed to sleep and the slide wouldn’t stand up straight. I got there in the end, with the aid of a cocktail stick.

The cakes went down well – it was a while ago now but I remember being told a story of finding the crushed remains of a cake in a pocket the next morning as one of the band hadn’t wanted to eat his… then over indulged at the party… then forgot about it…

King Porter Stomp are an amazing band – go and see them if you have a chance and take your dancing shoes.  You won’t regret it.