Boat building for beginners!

So, as promised, here’s excerpts from the weekend’s baking – beware, long post alert…

First, the boat.  Now, I tried to remember to take pics at all stages but  missed a few out (as I do) but bear with me, I will try to get better at this part of the blogging process!

Setting sail on peaceful seas…

Now, I have learned a valuable lesson with this one. Firstly, have a very clear idea of what you are creating, DO NOT print out lots of different images of boats and then end up working on two different pictures. Sounds obvious I know but there we go 🙂

So, firstly, as I knew it would need to be a pretty solid cake (no fluffy sponges allowed here) to withhold the carving and modelling and various fixtures and fittings I would be decorating it with, I made a madeira cake flavoured with some fresh lemon rind and baked in a large rectangular baking pan.

There are numerous recipes to be found on the web – I couldn’t remember the one my mum used to make – but I chose which very handily gave quantities to make a 23 cm (9 inch) cake which gave me enough to model the bottom of the boat with bits to spare. By the way, the punctured surface is not some mysterious cake disease but made with a skewer to soak up the vanilla syrup (made with sugar and water and half a vanilla pod) and hopefully keep it a little moist.

Carved madeira sponge for main boat tier

I left this to cool and then when cold enough to be shrugging on a warm little woolie  if it so wished, I sliced in half and filled with vanilla buttercream and blackcurrant jam. I know most people would use a strawberry or raspberry but I thought the blackcurrant might go quite nicely with the lemon.

Buttercream and blackcurrant filling.. though not the neatest paint job!

I then made a second smaller cake for the second and third tiers (ok, this was originally a kind of basic boat which was now turning into a luxury sea vessel) and followed the same process, leave to chill and then slice and fill.  I then stacked one on top of the other… simple!

Two out of three tiers

What followed next wasn’t quite so simple. I don’t know about you but I have a problem with the crumbing process before covering with fondant. I know from reading the experts that the whole point of it is to de-crumb but even with my tough as old boots madeira, alarming balls of crumb were falling. I also know the finished result should be completely bump free so as to have a completely smooth fondant surface ahem… let’s pretend the following pic shows the before, rather than the after 🙂

Smooth as silk… not!

I did the same to the second tier and then put both in the fridge for at least an hour so as to be as stiff as possible before applying the fondant. Whilst waiting for them to cool, I made the male figure requested by my customer.  I coloured the white fondant with a tint of flesh/paprika paste and then rolled a basic head, two little ears, a nose and hands before forming a top out of red fondant and trousers out of blue until my little man started to come together. Ok, I admit, not the most sartorially elegant!

Looking a little glum right now…

By now, the cakes were nicely cooled so I rolled out the fondant, making a template out of baking paper first and in order to stop this post being the longest in blogging history… this is how it looked when covered, one cake on top of the other and black fondant windows applied. I wasn’t completely happy with the bumpy surface to be honest but I managed to improve this a little  with my cake smoother tool.

Cutting out the boat shapes

Getting there…

Now, it was definitely coming together but there was a way to go because I decided it needed a third tier! Using some of the spare cake, I cut out a little triangular shape to form a top seating and steering area, covered with buttercream as before and then, when chilled, with fondant.

Starting to come together

As you can see, I made a steering wheel and dials from black fondant and then named the boat in edible black pen!

Nearly there folks….

All that was left to do was add some character to the captain of the ship with eyes and mouth, make a big i-phone style device (please note this did not have to be in any way identical to a real i-phone!) phew…. I added a back seating area out of black fondant (wrapped around yet more cake) and added a banner birthday message with edible rice paper stuck on two poles (ha ha, very handily taken from friends’ lunchtime posh burgers the day before.. and washed first she says hastily)…

View from above…

Last but not least, I added the final touch of an anchor made out of fondant and sprayed with some edible silver lustre and then set the “Persian Noor” sail on seas of blue made with royal icing tinted with a tiny amount of blue coloured paste, ruffled it up a bit and when dry, added a few (in)edible shells picked up on a recent jaunt to the Kent coast!

Setting sail on peaceful seas…

I then heaved a big sigh of relief and sat down with a much needed cup of tea 🙂


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