My daughter had previously had a Gruffalo cake and had recently fallen in love with the new (at that time) Julia Donaldson stories – Tabby McTat and Stick Man. She couldn’t decide what she wanted for her birthday so we hit on a ‘Julia Donaldson story’ theme party.
I started her Homemade Gruffalo and other Julia Donaldson Stories Cake with a flat, square sponge for this and cut one side off so I could add it to the other and make a rectangle. I then made a slight indent in the middle so it looked like the center of a book. I covered this totally in white sugarpaste and then added a single sheet of white sugar paste to each side to make the top page.
On one side I folded the page over. I put small semi-circles of black in the middle of the front and back side to make the center of the binding and then added a trim for the outer cover of the book.
I made the characters simply by copying the pictures in her books. The cats are small balls of sugar paste (for the head) balanced (and supported internally by small pieces of dried linguine) on top of ovals for the bodies. I gently teased the nose and the ears out and then added small bits of other colors for definition. Tabby McTat’s stripes are just painted on food coloring.
The Gruffalo works in much the same way. I shaped his legs and feet, put a very large ball of sugar paste on for his body, added another ball for his head and two sausages for his arms. Then I used a knife to make the ‘fur’ markings and added detail. I usually just use water to stick bits on but I found with the tiny claws, purple prickles, tusks etc that sugar glue dried more quickly.
The whale is a large shaped bit of gray sugar paste sitting on top of a smaller white bit for his tummy. As the back view photo shows, I had to support his tail with dried linguine because even drying it over an icing color pot for a few days it was just too heavy to stand up on its own.
For Charlie Cook I made the armchair all out of yellow and then painted the parrots etc on. Charlie is again balls and sausages of sugar paste with detail (stripes, socks etc) painted on.
Stick man was a challenge! He ended up being mottled brown sugar paste wrapped around dried linguine because there was no way he would stand up otherwise! Again as you can see from the back view photo I had to support him on the cake too.
Finally I used an icing pen to write the most familiar lines from the books next to each of the characters.