Anyone For Cake? How to….

Well! What a weekend. The first Looe Literary Festival was a tremendous success! Plenty of people turned out and took themselves down to this pretty Cornish town on the sea. PLUS it was extra interesting being ‘out of season’. There was a different vibe – and this weekend it was definitely a Literary vibe!

I was delighted to have my very own one hour Author Event slot arranged for me in The Old Boathouse Cafe, on the quay-side facing the river just before it emerges into the sea. My audience had a few extras, a small free draw AND CAKE. DSCF7593

I propped the cake up on my book stand – and, to my surprise, it wasn’t until I went to cut it that some people realised it was a cake!

So I’m going to give you a ‘how I made it’ here 🙂  and I hope you like it as much as others enjoyed eating it!

cooked cake

First I printed off a large picture of the book cover and used this as my template, it meant I needed to cook a cake 12″ by (about) 8″. I happen to have a nice cake tin that allows you to vary its size by inserting two interlocking dividers, with the largest at 12″ x 12″ reducing in size down to 1″ x 1″ (Though you’d probably not use it for that!) You can also make 4 cakes at once, each 6″ square. Anyway – I created the right size cake tin size and made a Victoria sandwich mix that I had calculated would fill it. (in this case cracked the 7 eggs into a jug and weighed the total, then used the exact same weight for the flour, sugar and butter) I dolloped about half of this mixture into the tin, then added 250g melted plain chocolate beating well as it was added to the other half of the mixture, then dolloped this in between the  plain mix, finishing it with a swirling motion to smooth it out then baked it at 180 degrees until cooked (about 35 mins) I wrapped it well and froze the cake.

Now to the decorations. First I mixed about half a teaspoon of gum-tragacanth into about 150g ready-made roll-out icing (Regal-Ice) This means the paste will harden. I rolled it out and carefully cut the rectangle out – placing it on a tray covered with a sheet of cling-film dusted with cornflour, covered lightly, to prevent dust, with greaseproof paper.

I re-rolled the remainder and by resting the paper sheet on top and using a cocktail stick to press on the line, marked out the shapes of all the dark rocks in the picture. DSCF7566DSCF7568

I removed the paper and using the cocktail stick drew lines on the rocks to give them texture. I also cut a long narrow rectangle to put the author name on later. All these I also placed on a tray as before and set them all to dry in a warm place.

When these were all dry I mixed food colouring to make the colours I expected to need. I marked out with a pale food-colour pen, the lines for the layers of cliffs in the distance, the sand and the sea. Then I painted these in with the food colours giving the larger areas a water wash before applying the colour as you do for water colours, but otherwise it was a bit like painting by numbers 😉 DSCF7583DSCF7586


The rocks were given a dark wash so that the textures still showed through; all this was left to dry. When the ‘paint’ was dry I assembled the pieces and hand-painted the title with a red food colour.

I cut the top of the defrosted cake and trimmed it to the perfect size then turned it upside down onto a cake-board with a little icing spread on it to prevent it slipping. I rolled out another 200g of Regal Ice and cut 4 pieces long enough to cover all the edges then rolled the rest very thinly and covered the top and sides with this thin layer, held in place by a brushing of heated-up jam. DSCF7585

Three out of the four strips were textured to look like pages, the fourth I hand painted to look like the spine of the book.

NOW! The assembly, The cover was stuck on with icing, as were all the edges… and lo! the book should have been finished. Unfortunately I forgot the extra thickness of the cover when I cut the spine…. and had to add a bit to fill in the gap!! So now you know what to look out for if you do the same .. and I will know for next time too 🙂 DSCF7594 Crop

All in all it may have made my author slot a little different … if you were there – do tell… if you were unable to come .. well I hope to get out and about more next year – maybe to a festival near you! DSCF7604 crop

As always I love to hear your thoughts – do leave a comment 🙂




8 thoughts on “Anyone For Cake? How to….

  1. Wos Ann
    Not just a pretty author but a pretty cake baker too. What a fantastic cake, wished I would have seen it.
    The litary festival sounds like a great success – hope more of these will spring up.
    Over the weekend I attended a “Goodread event” question and answering session held by a number of authors. It was great to be able to get a bit more insight and I really enjoyed it. It a nice way of doing if for the fans living that bit further away but then your blog allows the readers to do that. It was held by the ALLi Group (Alliance of Independent Authors) and I wondered if you heard of them or are even a member.

    • Hi Susi,
      Thank you so much for your lovely comments 🙂

      I have heard of the Alliance.. but am not a member at this time, however,I am a member of Goodreads … and they have a ‘ask the author’ function running all the time. As I understand it if someone ‘asks’ me a question it will be emailed to me so I can answer. I have answered a couple and they are up there for everyone to see now.

      “Ask the Author
      Readers can ask questions and receive answers from their favorite authors. To ask a question, visit the author’s profile page. (Use the search box at the top of the site to search for any author.) Scroll down the author profile, and if the author is a member of Goodreads who is accepting questions you will see a space called Ask the Author. You can also select “More answers from…” to view all of the questions the author has answered in the past. If the author answers your question, the question and answer will appear on the author’s profile as well as in the newsfeeds of the author’s followers, and you will be notified on your Goodreads homepage and by email.” – from Goodreads pages

  2. What a clever lady you are!

    The cake looks lovely and the decoration is AMAZING! Such an unusual idea, thanks for sharing the how to…of it.

    Glad to hear the Looe Literary festival was good, and all the best for the 2015 Literary Festival season!


    • Hi Christine,

      I do enjoy cake decoration when it is a one-off. Strange, both the sand-sculpture that I do and the cake decorating are very temporary art forms! At least the novels have a longer duration!

      Thank you for your good wishes for next year!

  3. Hi Ann,
    I read about the book and Looe Festival whilst I was in the States. Liked the link which took me to your session on Radio Cornwall. I so enjoyed listening to the whole thing. Unfortunately I was not home in time for the festival, it sounds as though it went really well. Congratulations on the new book and that amazing cake!
    Nice to be back in Cornwall.

    • Welcome home to Cornwall, Jean. Hope your states trip was good :). Thank you for your comment about the radio interview. The festival went so well and was so well received in Looe, with any luck it will just have been the first of many and you’ll be able to go next year!!!
      best – Ann

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