Tuesday, August 21, 2012

This Hobbit birthday cake looks awesome, delicious

My wife and I enjoy a proud, if one-sided, tradition every year for our birthdays. For mine, she goes above and beyond the call of awesome to decorate a geeky birthday cake (Moogles and Tonberrys have both made appearances in the past). For hers, I defer to her mother and let her family handle the cake. It's not the most fair arrangement in the world, but it works.

This year, my wife decided to go all out and move into three-dimensional designs. Because we went to The Shire New Zealand for our honeymoon back in March, and because I love Lord of the Rings more than I probably should, she decided to make a 3D model of Bag End out of fondant and cake. From what I recall of the actually Bag End, the end result was pretty spot on.

Click on any of the pictures for a larger, uncompressed image!

The clue that I should expect this particular design came when I unwrapped the Gandalf Arrives Lego set. Little did I know those Legos would make a cameo appearance on, and provide a sense of scale for, my birthday cake. Sure, Lego is coming out with their own version of Bag End soon... but it won't be anywhere near as tasty as this was.

All of the furnishings to Bag End were done by her hand as well. The walls, doors, and windows were made of white chocolate painted with food dye while the chimneys were black licorice pieces covered in painted white chocolate as well. The fact that she painted an interlocking brick pattern for the chimneys is somewhere between pathological and impressive.

This is a 'raw cut' of the cake, and the fondant spillover around the lawn of Bag End was eventually cleaned up for the presentation. Like the Legos, the tree was also inedible and was made of fake ivy that you can find at any craft store. We toyed with the idea of making a fondant oak tree to overhang the cake, but decided that we valued our sanity too much to even attempt that. Incidentally, she aimed for a 1:1 Toaster Over scale for the cake. I think she did pretty good.

The iconic front door of Bag End. We eventually leveled out the flagstones that formed the pathway to the door although I don't think anyone would have noticed. While the shrubs (grated fondant painted for accents) and potted plants (white chocolate and fondant) were impressive, I particularly liked the fondant retaining wall at the base of the hill. It's an edible attention to detail that any hobbit would appreciate.

The end result, with suitably dramatic late-afternoon lighting. The only problem with making a cake this unbelievably awesome is that many of the guests at the party didn't necessarily identify it as a cake straightaway. Thankfully, we stationed it far enough away from the bar so that no one would be tempted to play with it.