I was asked to make an anniversary cake with a difference, something that really reflected them as a family and would be totally personal to them. We decided upon recreating their sofa, with the family and all their dogs just enjoying a relaxing time together.
I was provided with photos of the dogs and the family, plus a couple of their sofa. I started with the dogs to allow them to dry while I was making the sofa. I would build the people in-situ on the sofa.
Animal models are quite easy when you break them down into their simple components, which are really just a mixture of oval, round & sausage shapes. These are a couple of the dogs ready to assemble.
I started to make son separately as he would be stretched out on the sofa (he was a teenager after all!). His jeans were basically one long sausage of blue paste, a mixture of sugarpaste & modelling paste, which allows you to reshape as necessary, but it still stays soft enough to eat. I creased the jeans at the knees and positioned the legs with one knee slightly bent. The shoes were two elongated ovals flattened at the bases, and inserted into the bottom of the legs.
The jumper was a larger oval, flattened and hollowed slightly at one end to fit over the jeans. The arms were two yellow sausages, and the collar was a flattened ball with a “v” cut out for the neck. This was then left them to dry so it would retain its shape.
To make the sofa I drew a template on paper, positioning it on a cake board.
I had made a 10” Madeira, which I first split & filled before sculpting – it is much easier doing it this way rather than trying to split & fill the individual pieces later. To ensure you replace the top in the same place, mark one side with buttercream before splitting it – you can then see where you need to place the top.
By making the template I was able to place it onto the cake to see how best to cut out the sofa shape to reduce waste.
After cutting out the seats I used the rest of the cake to make the back rests, then I butter-creamed the whole sofa. To get a smooth finish to the buttercream I use a slightly damp brush all over the cake. I then left it in the fridge for 15 minutes for the buttercream to firm up before icing.
I applied the sugarpaste in sections to mirror how the sofa was made. To create the stitched effect in the sofa I used a small wheel tool, which gives a realistic finish to the sofa.
I then began making the rest of the figures using the same methods as for the son – sausages for the legs, ovals for the shoes / feet, then flattened ovals and thin sausages for the bodies & arms.
For the heads use ovals, with tiny balls shaped into teardrops for noses, flattened teardrop shapes for ears, and make the mouths by using a knife to make a small cut, then turn up the corners to make a smile.
Make two small indents for the eyes, the cut white circles out using the ends of a size 4 piping nozzle; use a size two to cut out the coloured iris, then make the pupils using a black icing pen. For the hair I use strips of sugarpaste which I attach strip by strip – this lets me create the desired style in more detail.
To finish I positioned the dogs around the sofa, gave the adults a cup of tea, and the family scene was finished!
The family loved it, and you really couldn’t get a more personal cake!