Well – this is my ‘tour de force’ in the cake decorating field for this year.
A friend of the family has just recently become the owner of a lovely little cottage and has spent the last few months renovating and decorating it… and it now lays claim to the title ‘Petit Bijou’. I have never actually seen the place but have been given photographs of various bits of the outside of it, from various angles, and, along with a stroke of genius on my part(!), obtained photos of the street view side of the house from Google Maps. And so, with this motley collection of photos to hand, I have set about trying to recreate her cottage in icing!!!
I began by trying to draw out the architectural features on paper, working out the relative proportions and positions of things from the photos. I then used the computer to draw out a fairly accurate template of the elevations of the cottage so that I could create a 3 dimensional paper version of the place to see if it would work and make alterations accordingly.
The next stage was to print out a new sheet of template pieces and then place a piece of acetate sheet over the top of it. I was then able to pipe royal icing onto the acetate sheet knowing that I would be able to flex the sheet and get the dried and hardened icing to peel away from it without breaking. First the outline of each template piece was piped using a very fine ‘writing’ icing tube/nozzle, then when this was dry I was able to fill in each piece with a flood of royal icing, which fills in up to the dried piped line and then settles and dries to a flat solid piece.
Of course, these little icing walls are rather thicker than the paper template pieces I used to make my original paper model so the construction of the 3D icing cottage worked up to be a little chunkier than I had foreseen…and areas like the little gable window were a bit of a headache but the fact that she wanted it to be a snow scene meant that I could hide a lot of little inaccuracies under the blanket of snow!!!
As it happens, I did have a bit of a problem keeping the ‘snow’ on the roof and so have a rather authentic ‘avalanche waiting to happen’ overhang effect!!!!
There is also a magnificent holly tree in the back garden which I was asked to try to include in the scene on the cake. I have to admit that this took me a good long time to work out, and, in this case is not entirely made of icing. The trunk is based around a plastic drinking straw which I was able to cut and flare out to make a substantial starburst style ‘foot’ that could be embedded into the icing ‘paving’ to make a solid foundation. Into this trunk I inserted pieces of floristry wire which were taped down with floristry tape. I then wound pieces of cotton around and between the ‘branches’ of wire to create a web of cotton which would be able to support the icing twigs and leaves. I then set about icing over these structures to create my tree! It is not an accurate holly shape of tree but I am satisfied with the effect…and should I ever have to create a holly tree in icing again I would strive to make it a better holly tree shape!!
I finished off the scene for the top of the cake with a representation of the raised flower bed, which is adjacent to the tree in the cottage garden, and a tiny snowman, complete with hat and scarf.
The sides of the cake bear the affectionate name of their little residential jewel and, in keeping with the French words already written, a suggestion of Christmas.
Sometimes, in the darkness, little things happen to make you smile. After I had uploaded these photographs I noticed that the main photo and photo 3 of the montage have a suggestion that the little cottage is occupied as the lights are ‘on’!!!
I hope you are all having a lovely time in there!!!!