19 June 2010

In which we build Gateshead Central Library out of cake...


It seemed like a good idea, way back in about March when the EAT festival announced that they were looking for people to build Newcastle and Gateshead landmarks out of cake. My friend Kate (who has a collection of cake tins to rival Fenwicks) agreed to help. The kids (M, P and J) will enjoy doing that, we thought.

Part 1

First, you'll need to make 14 birthday cakes. That's right, 14. Obviously not all at once, unless you have a *very* large oven.

We used Nigella's buttermilk birthday cake recipe, and managed to get through 42 eggs, 3.5 kg flour, 2.8kg sugar and rather a lot of butter/marg. And a lot of small people licked a lot of bowls clean.

Thankfully, the cake (a) holds together fantastically and (b) freezes really well.

Part 2

For this bit, you'll need a nice husband who happens to like architecture. He spent a while on Google Earth, took lots of photos of the library, and planned out what we needed to do.

He even built the library out of boxes for us.

Part 3: Saturday pm

We defrosted the cakes, Kate and Adam lent us their dining room, and we got to work. First of all, it was foil time.

Then, Rob cut the cake to size, to match his diagrams, and we glued it onto the foil with melted apricot jam. Sticky, but good.

A couple of hours later, most of the cake was attached.

Now for the tricky bits - porticos, lintels and Tunnocks tea cakes.

Part 4, Saturday teatime

Adam, who had done a sterling job amusing the kids while we played around with cake, went off to BBQ some tea. We attempted to stop eating the offcuts of cake.

And then we started work on the icing. It was ready roll fondant icing, which Kate coloured in three batches: brick red, stone and grey for the roof.

Then, it was time for a BBQ, and, very importantly, a glass or two of cold rose from the fridge (which may explain my slightly wonky icing placement later on).

Part 5, Saturday evening

The icing was quite tricky to get onto the cake, especially as we made the first few slabs quite thin as we were worried we wouldn't have enough. We put brick red went round the sides, grey on the roof, and stone on the porticos and embellishments.

Here's M and P spreading more jam to stick everything together.

And here's us, attempting not to swear as the fondant icing tears or sticks to the table for the 95th time:

Part 6, Decorating

Rob and the kids made windows out of rice paper, and stuck them on with jam. They also made balustrades from curly wurlys, pillars out of cafe curls, and drainpipes out of matchmakers. There was much tasting of the spares.

Then, it was time for the scaffolding...matchmakers and ice cream wafers. And a rather lethal gas lighter, which set light to the matchmakers.

By this point, it was 10pm, and well past everyone's bedtime. But we'd finished!!

Final photos tomorrow, at the grand unveiling in Saltwell Park. Wooooooo!


David said...

Bravo. Looking forward to the grand opening.

Next project - Gateshead multi-storey car park made of meringue?

rach said...

Meringue would be good, especially if sandwiched with cream/chocolate fingers. The architecture practice who did it for the Cakebook event used bourbon biscuits, which I thought was a brilliant idea!