It’s taken us nearly 10 months, but we finally decided to do something to celebrate LB’s arrival and set upon a naming day. We wanted a day without a formal ceremony where we could say thank you to a handful of close people who have been there for us over the last year. The people who received facebook messages in the early hours of the morning asking for help and advice, the people who reassured, the people who didn’t judge us on our parenting choices, the people who turned up with M&S Dine In deal and took LB for a walk, the people who fueled us with Boost bars.
We decided to treat the 18 guests to a meal at one of our favourite places to eat – Bulls Head in Repton. We were seated on a giant table in the beautiful Garden Room. Bulls Head is an ideal place to eat on a Saturday lunch time. We had 6 children/babies in our party and the menu catered for all tastes. I went for my usual pizza, some people wanted a simple soup and sandwich and quite a few went for an amazing looking belly pork dish. LB seemed to have a taste off everyones plates. After starters and mains we then headed back to our house for a table laden with pudding and an all important glass of pink fizz.
Of course all events like this need cake. I decided a dessert table would be the way to go with one centrepiece cake. For over a year baking hasn’t been high on the agenda so to allow me to have time to make and bake this cake I needed to plan ahead. I baked the fruit cake a couple of months ago to let it mature then a lot of the decorating was done in the fading light once LB was in bed. This explains some of the slightly dodgy mid-make photos. To cater for some dairy-free guests I used my usual Christmas cake recipe, but substituted butter for Pure sunflower spread. Note: dairy free alternatives make fruit cakes bake quite a bit faster so if you are using one of these spreads keep a close eye on the cake.
I haven’t decorated a cake since Christmas 2013. I’m certainly out of practice! For previous cakes I’ve covered them with Satin Ice, but my local cake decorating shop has stopped selling it so I went for Renshaw professional icing instead. While professional icings are more expensive they are far better than the icing bought off the supermarket shelf. Supermarket icings have a higher icing sugar content and less glycerine meaning the icing dries out quicker and is more likely to crack.
The invitations for LB’s day featured bunting so I continued this theme on the cake. This meant making some sugarpaste edible bunting. You can use a star cutter to make the triangles or be mathematical like me. Using the strip cutter from my tapit cutters I cut a strip of coloured sugarpaste, then made marks 1.5cm along. On the opposite edge I then made marks 1.5cm along starting 7.5mm along the strip. I then used these marks to cut parallelograms which were then cut in half to make isosceles triangles. I warned you I was a bit of a maths geek. I stuck the bunting and flowers on with gin. I use gin (or vodka) rather than water because it is stickier and less likely to leave water marks on the icing. Also if your icing goes wrong you have gin to drink to drown your sorrows.
I made the striped and polka dotted icing by using the same method that I used for the Jubilee cupcake bunting. It’s as simple as rolling dots and long pieces of sugarpaste into a base colour or sugarpaste before cutting in to triangles. The cake was then topped with a green sugarpaste ribbon that featured LB’s full name using letters made using a set of alphabet Tappit cutters.
To top this cake I knew I needed something special. I met Gail from Little Them at a Fabulous Places Fair in Derby a few years ago. She’s an illustrator by day and Little Them started a few years ago when she painted a bride and groom for friends. I loved her wooden figures, the detail was incredible and only now did I have a reason to buy one. Gail’s attention to detail was impressive. As I’d bought LB’s naming day dress from M&S Autograph range back in February, Gail was able to use photos from the website to help her paint the dress and even included one of LB’s favourite toys – Monkey Bear. When I saw the final painted figurine I was astounded by the detail she’d included. I’ll certainly consider Gail in the future for other projects.
A big thank you to our special guests who joined us to toast LB and eat lots of cake.