Last summer I asked the friend who had offered her house as a venue for a cake club meeting if she would like to choose the theme. She chose “Novelty Cakes”. I have to say my first thought was “oh heck” as personally I have never made a novelty cake of any kind (unless you count the cakes that turned out looking rather peculiar). Having never had children or grandchildren to bake for I have never made a cake shaped like a teddy bear or fire engine. I’m not even very good at icing – I can slather butter cream over a cake or drizzle fairly neatly but as for fondant or piping………
I decided to make a cake that resembled the Eiffel Tower and thought the easiest way was to make a nice, ordinary, round cake and plonk a model or ornament of the Eiffel Tower on top – a bit of a cop-out I know. So the weekend before the meeting I went to a local vide-grenier where I thought I would have loads of Eiffel Towers to choose from. For those who don’t know, a vide-grenier, or brocante, is the French equivalent of the UK car boot sale. There is usually a mix of dealers selling antiques or bric-a-brac and local people selling their unwanted stuff – “vide-grenier” means “empty the attic”. There are usually plenty of Eiffel Tower ornaments or souvenirs for sale.
This particular vide-grenier takes place every year in a nearby village and is huge, with hundreds of stalls. On the day it was raining on and off but undeterred I scoured every stall and there was not a single Eiffel Tower to be seen. Oh heck. Back to the drawing board.
I anguished over how to make a cake look like the Eiffel Tower and quickly rejected the notion of making one that stood up. Instead I went for a cake that lies down and is shaped and decorated to look like the Eiffel Tower. I chose a Mary Berry tray bake recipe as I thought it would be firm enough and big enough to cut into shape. My GCSE dressmaking skills finally came in handy in cutting the shape and with a bit of internet research I came up with a way to make the cake look vaguely like the iconic structure.
The cake itself was delicious and I have made it a few more times since then. You can see the recipe here or here. Other club members also had to dig deep for inspiration in order to bake something that complied with the theme and the resulting show on the table was amazing. You can read all about it here.
In case you’re puzzled about the champagne bottle tops at the bottom of the cake…..I was pondering how to represent the grass around the base of the tower and was reminded of the New Year’s Eve we spent in Paris for our honeymoon, all those years ago. We went to the Eiffel Tower on New Year’s Day and the grass around the base was covered in a sea of discarded champagne bottles.