For my daughter's fairy tale themed birthday party, at first she wanted a castle cake. But then decided it should look like a big open storybook with a fairy tale castle on top!
I could have gone 3D with this Fairytale Book Birthday Cake but ended up trying a new decorating method and it worked out really well. The castle, horse and carriage, prince and princess, and shrubbery figures on the cake are made with candy melts. Being flat, but upright, they were meant to look like the illustrations in a pop-up book!
I drew these figures on paper first, then put the pictures on a cookie sheet and covered them with waxed paper. The melted candy was piped on top of the waxed paper, using the drawings underneath as a guide, and then put in the fridge to set up. This took a while as the candy must harden in between each color, so it was done over the course of several evenings beforehand, one figure at a time.
I made multiples of the people, so that I could choose the best-looking one for the cake. My kids didn't mind being allowed to eat the extras! I "drew" the candy right-side up, rather than the more common method of doing it upside down and showing the perfectly flat underside on the cake, because it was easier that way but also it was nice to get a little texture; for example, the bricks and parapets on the castle stood away from the "grout" and the people had a suggestion of chins and noses.
When I was ready to put the figures on the cake, I flipped them over and attached Popsicle sticks to the backs with more candy melts; the sticks were inserted into the cake. Some bits of the horse and carriage broke off in the process of assembly and couldn't easily be reattached; if I do this again I'll avoid narrow lines and curls, or reinforce them with toothpicks or something. But it looked okay even though the harness didn't actually attach and part of the carriage seat was missing! Incidentally the color in this photo isn't great; the prince's clothes are purple.
The cake itself is a deep half-sheet (12x18) rectangle with the top and sides carved into the shape of an open book. (I cut a V-shaped notch in the center; carved a downward curve - shallow U shape - in the outer half of each "page" and then flipped the cut-off piece over onto the inside half, forming the sideways S curve without wasting so much cake; cut the top corners off of the outside ends.) Then covered a cardboard base with rolled fondant for the book cover and crimped the middle to look like the binding. Put cake on top of fondant and frosted with buttercream. The page edges were created using the toothed (basketweave) side of the large icing tip; unfortunately the BACK came out better than the front, should've done the back first!
Smoothed out the top of the pages, used spray food coloring to add the green "background" for the pop-ups, piped on the calligraphed text and flowers, inserted the "pop-up" figures.
This all took *hours* but my daughter loved it and everyone at the party was suitably impressed!
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