Ok – this may seem like a weird post. Bear with me though, friends.
Last night, I was hosting my first book club. This made me feel very excited, and also very intelligent and bookish.
Therefore, I began racking my brains over something suitably bookish to serve.
So, I thought, why not make a cake? With books on it!
It’s surprisingly easy, I promise, and there are so many things you can do. All you need is a bit of patience. Why not make some book cupcakes? A birthday cake with someone’s favourite novel on it? The possibilities are endless!
Please Note: This is a post on decorating your cake, not making the actual cake. However, tomorrow I will be posting a really quick and pretty much foolproof sponge cake recipe, so you can use this if you wish.
What you will need:
A packet of plain white fondant icing. You can buy this in most large supermarkets, including Waitrose and Tesco.
Food colouring, in the colours of your choice
One plain iced cake (tomorrow I’ll be doing a quick foolproof sponge cake recipe, if you need a hand with that)
A rolling pin
A sharp knife or flat-edged spatula
Decide on the size of your book. This does not have to be exact but if you have space limitations – for instance, if you are putting these on cupcakes – you don’t want to make them too big.
Now, take your piece of white fondant and cut a little off the end. The first thing you are going to do is make the pages of your book.
Sprinkle your worksurface with icing sugar; in this case, icing sugar works the same as flour when rolling dough, in that it stops the fondant from becoming overly sticky when the heat of your hands warms it.
Roll out your piece of fondant to approximately the thickness of a pound coin; this is just a rough guideline – your books can be as thick or thin as you like.
Now, trim your rolled out piece of fondant until it is in a neat rectangle. This will be slightly smaller than the eventual size of your whole book.
Now you have the pages, you are going to make the cover! Take a piece of fondant roughly twice the size of your pages. Don’t worry about taking too much; fondant is very versatile and can always be re-used.
Now, decide on the colour of your jacket! In my case I went for pink.
To dye your fondant, pick up the fondant in your hand and gently dab a small drop of food colouring onto the fondant. Start to squish and roll it together in your hand – don’t worry, the colour will wash off your hands.
Keep rolling, squishing and kneading the fondant until the colour starts to distribute evenly throughout your block of fondant. If you want to make the colour more intense, just add an extra drop of food colouring.
After a couple of minutes, your fondant will begin to look marbled, like this:
You can make different shades by mixing food colouring exactly as you would using paint – for example, add a tiny drop of blue to a bit of red to make lilac.
Keep kneading until the colour is nice and even, and it is the shade you want.
Sprinkle a little more icing sugar on your worksurface and gently roll your coloured dough out until it is nice and thin – ideally, a couple of millimetres, or whatever thickness you are happy working with.
Make sure it is more than twice the size of your block of ‘pages’.
Place it next to your white block of ‘pages’.
Before you go any further, carefully tidy up the edges of your ‘pages’ by gently pressing the flat end of your knife or spatula into the fondant and moulding with your fingers until the edges are as neat as possible.
Now, carefully pick up your block of ‘pages’, and place it into the centre and slightly to the right of your rolled-out piece of coloured fondant.
To make the jacket, simply cut around the white fondant leaving a millimetre or so each side.
Carefully fold the left side of the jacket over the pages, mark the edge, fold it back and trim it off, so that it is the same length as the underneath side.
Now, gently lift the left side of the ‘jacket’ up and fold it over your ‘pages’.
Hurrah, you now have the basic shape of your book!
Before you proceed, neaten the edges of your book up as before, using the edge of your knife or spatula.
When you are happy that it is as neat as possible (not easy, I know, when you are working with something this small), you are ready to make your spine.
Using the edge of your knife or spatula, simply press into the left hand side of your book shape very gently, to create an indentation to resemble the binding.
Now, gently pick up your book (a metal cake slice works well for this) and place it carefully on a plate. Leave it here for about thirty minutes until it has hardened slightly and is no longer quite so squidgy. This will mean that it keeps it shape when you put it on your cake.
Repeat as many times as you like! Be creative – make different sized books with different coloured jackets.
You don’t have to make them all closed, either; you can have lots of fun making them appear half open, such as my slightly poor (and rather rushed) attempt below:
Now for the final step – you need to give your books titles! Obviously you can choose whatever you like.
Short titles are the easiest – I chose Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ and Jilly Cooper’s ‘Score!’ (amazing book) because they were one-word and easy, and Waugh’s ‘Vile Bodies’ because that it what we were reading in book club that evening (although, ‘Vile Bodies’ did resemble ‘Vile Boobies’ a bit which was highly unfortunate).
You can pipe these on with writing icing, which is easiest, in whatever colour you like, or you can use melted white chocolate (which I did; however, this did prove to be extremely fiddly and I wished I had used icing instead).
When your lovely books are all finished and have hardened slightly, and you are ready to decorate your cake, simply pick them up very carefully and stick them to the top of your cake using a blob of slightly cooled, melted chocolate (a little bit of jam or buttercream also works well).
Now, sit back and admire! Yay, you made a book cake!
See you tomorrow.
Do you have any questions you’d like answered? Ever wondered how to make a bed properly, how to cook easy bread from scratch, how to make the perfect cake, how to get tough stains out easily and quickly? My friends, I am rubbish at many things but due to a strange addiction to Mrs Beeton in my early teens and a very accomplished group of friends and family, I have access to a fairly sizeable amount of domestic knowledge. Test me – send me your domestic conundrums and we will see what we can do!