Beatrix Potter Baby Shower Cake
The Story behind this Cake
I started with, what I consider the easy work, the covering of the cake. I hand make my fondant from scratch and let it set up over night before I rolled it out to cover the cake.
At this point I set it all aside and started working on the mice I would need. I started out with a blob of white fondant that had tylose added to it, which helps it to get harder faster, and just started to work it with my fingers until I had the body shape I wanted for each mouse. Then I took bits and created arms and feet as well as tails. These I smoothed onto the body with a bit of water to act as glue and then let it dry for about an hour. After letting it set up a bit I took a scoring tool and started marking "fur" marks on the body. Then came the painting. This is just food color gel mixed with a bit of clear alcohol till it is a paint consistency. In this case a watercolor consistency. I mixed up black, dark brown, golden brown and golden yellow paint and started painting the mice in layers of color. I began with the golden brown and then, with a spiky paint brush, added in the dark brown, black and golden yellow bits to create the fur. At this point I added dark brown fondant for eyes and let them sit up over night to dry.
The next morning I covered the cake with the light blue fondant and then trimmed it with white fondant for a clean look. Next came the hand painting for the background. For this I used the same spiky brush I had used for the mice fur.
For the next part I added color to a couple of balls of fondant, making one a darker green than the other, so I could cut out the leaves. Most of these were scored with a fondant tool and added right onto the cake. The leaves needed for the umbrella had a bit of tylose mixed into the fondant first so it would dry nice and hard and then, after they were cut out and scored, I allowed them to dry in a flower form for a few hours. I wanted them to be stiff but not to the point where if I wanted to bend them a bit they would break. At this point I also rolled out the strawberries and let them dry in flower cups. Next came the vines. Once they were on the cake I decided where I wanted to set my mouse and where I wanted the, now dry, strawberries. I set the mouse in place and then added the strawberries to the cake with toothpicks to hold them into place. Then it was time for the part I knew was going to be the hardest...the umbrella. Truth be told, it took me three tries and sets of leaves to get this right. The stem is just floral wire covered in fondant that goes about a quarter inch past the end of the wire and flattens out into a platform. I tried to use this to hold the three leaves but it just wasn't sturdy enough. In the end I used two totally dry leaves and one fresh one that I glued to the side of the cake to help hold it up. The last touch were adding the mini leaves in dark and very light green fondant just to give it a little more texture.
The sleeping mouse was a bit easier. I painted him at the same time as the other mouse and let him dry on his side. The cabbage and pea leaves around him were a bit harder. I needed them to be stiff but not so stiff that they would crack when I tried to place them on the cake. Finally I put down fresh fondant for the cabbage leaves and let one hard taco shell shaped leaf to dry around the mouse for most of the afternoon. Once that was dry I set it onto the cabbage leaf covered top and added half rounds of leaf shaped fondant to the outside of the "shell". Then I tucked in the "peas" and the pea leaves to finish it.
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