Last week P turned two. Since his birthday was on a weekday we had a shop-bought cake on the day itself, which went to nursery with him so he could celebrate with his friends, and a family party the following Saturday. For this second second birthday celebration my brother manfully took on the challenge of helping me make a cake in the shape of Postman Pat's van.
Aiming for a fairly solid loaf cake to use as a base, we hit upon the idea of banana cake. Sadly, the resulting van was not perhaps as tall as it might have been since it took 20 minutes longer to cook than the recipe suggested, and once you have opened my oven door and established that a cake is not done, the only way to shut it again is to slam it hard. However, once it was jammed and marzipanned, and covered in brightly coloured royal icing and then repainted with yet more food colouring*, it began to be fairly recognizably a red van, even if it did look as though someone had slashed the tyres.
Postman Pat himself presented more of a challenge. Unable to buy or create convincingly flesh-coloured royal icing my brother constructed his face and hands from marzipan. This left him looking rather as though he had had a nasty shock,** but we decided it would do. We had reckoned without the effect of holding the party outside on a sunny day, however.
Shortly after being put in pride of place on the table in the sunshine, Pat's already pallid features acquired a sweaty sheen, as if he was suffering from the effects of a really bad hangover. An ill-advised attempt to draw on his glasses with black icing added to the effect by making him look as though he'd put his shades on. An hour or so later and Pat's condition was clearly terminal. Shortly after the lighting of the candle his head lolled to one side and his right hand dropped off.
However P seemed to be pleased with his cake, even if by this time it did appear to be decorated with the decomposing corpse of Greendale's favourite postie. Mercifully he didn't ask to eat any of it.
* Given the less-than-buoyant texture of the central cake, and the alarming number of E numbers in the icing, we established fairly early on that this was to be a cake for looking at and blowing out candles on, and commissioned my mum to make another one that was actually edible.
** Coming out to find his tyres slashed, perhaps.