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Making a giant cake for the local area’s street party

When the Queen celebrated her Golden Jubilee in 2002 I made a large long cake for a street party in our road, with the position and number of each house iced on it.

In 2011 a friend and I made a huge celebratory cake when we had a bumper street party for the royal wedding.

It therefore seemed an idea to offer to make a giant cake this year for our local residents’ association street party, particularly as there was the Platinum Jubilee to celebrate.

My first step was to talk to one of the organisers to ask if they would like a ‘giant’ cake – ‘yes’ was the answer. So in late April I started baking using a standard Victoria sponge recipe. Over a few weeks I made six sponge cakes, each one in a large roasting tin (4 eggs per cake). The first question was whether I had space in our chest freezer for each cake as it was made. It’s surprising how much volume the six cakes took up, and of course to avoid bending or cracking the sponge they had to freeze on a flat surface.

The shape and size of the finished cake was dependent on the design on top of it. As the party was for a group of seven local streets I decided on a map with each street named. I wanted to get the street names sorted well in advance of drawing the actual map on the cake so bought rolled fondant and wrote the names in cocoa flavoured icing a few days before the event (enough time to see if writing in icing was still something I could do!).

It was then that I discovered my assorted icing tubes and nozzles were not really up to the job although I managed as the photo below shows. Thanks to Amazon, in 24 hours I had a new set of icing equipment ready for the actual map.

Google maps was a good starting point to give me the road layout and I produced an enlarged version on paper. For what seems a relatively simple task there was a surprising amount of measuring and calculating (size of the board that the cake would sit on, size of the finished cake based on the dimensions of the ‘roasting tin’ cakes, and the size of the map when drawn on the giant cake). The next rather hazy photo shows part of the paper map.

Blocking together the six cakes, as in the next photo (taken two days before the party) gave me the right shape for the cake.

I stuck the separate cakes together with ‘butter’ cream (made with sunflower margarine as I kept to dairy free throughout). Whipping together the margarine and icing sugar was too easy producing a fairly soft mix and I wondered whether it would set properly.

Luckily the following day it was quite firm enough for the next stage which was to cover the cake with white water icing. After a short time, the white icing was dry enough to pipe on the basic road pattern.

Then I added the street names.

As you can see below, I doubled up the lines indicating the streets, and framed the map with chocolate chips. I also decided to add a ‘baby marshmallow’ palisade round the outer edge of the cake which involved lightly painting the edge of the cake with boiled water so the marshmallows would stick. I added a random collection (the whole packet) of dolly mixtures in a convenient space at the ‘south’ end of the cake which children might enjoy. They did!

These sweets and decorations were part of a collection that I had great fun buying. The photo below was taken after the party, a reminder of what I used.

The next stage was to complete the decorating…. Again I lightly painted each area with boiled water before adding the sprinkles, choc chips etc so they stuck onto the cake.

It was impossible to make a map look like a pretty cake (no home-made marzipan roses, crystallised flowers etc). In the end I realised that what it most resembled was a land-use survey map! Not a problem luckily.

Before driving the extremely short distance to the street where the party was to be held I added an ingredients list, which you can only just see at the bottom of the photo below, and covered the cake with cling film.

Just before 3pm I whisked off the cling film and the cake was cut, as part of the party’s opening ceremony, by the oldest resident.

It went down well with the partygoers throughout the afternoon. People chose where they wanted me to cut them a piece. Can I have a piece from my street? That’s where my garden is – please may I have a piece from there? What’s happened to my house – someone else has eaten it! Please can I have a piece with chocolate on top?

By about 5.30pm most of the cake had gone.

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