I have always been a huge fan of books and even more so of beautiful illustrations. I grew up loving Cicely Mary Barker’s ‘Flower Fairies‘ and the detailed illustrations she created, so many other artists caught my eye such as William Nicholson who illustrated the ‘Velveteen Rabbit’ and Jill Barklem, who illustrated Brambly Hedge series that I simply adored. I always favoured the muted tones and the detailed, magical illustrations as opposed to the bright, simplistic illustration that you would also see.
On receiving a card from a friend congratulating us on the birth of our daughter, I was instantly drawn to a lovely illustration by Mandy Sutcliffe and instantly a search followed with me trying to find some other cards that I could frame and use as nursery decoration. It was on this search that I discovered that as well as cards there was a huge range of ‘Belle and Boo’ products available as well as beautifully illustrated childrens books so I purchased one and while others were reading baby books with bright, garish, over stimulating illustrations I would sit back with my daughter and enjoy ‘Belle and Boo’.
Every night the ‘Goodnight Kiss’ is read to my daughter, even if we are reading something else, it’s become part of our routine and as she grew, she slowly started to interact more. I’d ask where ‘Boo Bunny’ was and she’d point to him, the same with ‘Belle’ and many other lovely characters or items in the book. We started to use these books as not only a nice way to wind down before bed but also to teach her what certain things were instead of the books targeted at teaching children animals and objects. My daughter started to love Belle and Boo more and more and I started to see that it wasn’t just because I enjoyed them, it was because she was growing attached to the story and the characters.
Belle and Boo has become so special to her I decided that for her second birthday I would make a Belle and Boo themed cake. I am no baker, but as you will see from other birthday cakes I have made for family, I enjoy a challenge, however as a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to things like this I knew this would be the trickiest cake to date so I prepared myself and my poor OH that things were about to get very tense in the kitchen in the run up to A’s birthday!
How I made a Belle and Boo Birthday Cake
I knew the image I wanted to feature on the cake and despite my OH telling me that creating a ‘flat’ sugar decoration would be easier, I decided to set about creating a sugarpaste model.
I wanted a simple looking cake, with beautiful details so that it would do the illustrations and book justice. So, I ordered a multipack of ready to roll icing from Renshaw in both naturals and their primary colours multipack too as well as a huge pack of white and light green sugar paste. I knew if I had the naturals, the primaries and a good amount of white sugarpaste, I could create the tones I was after.
I started by modelling each half of Boo as I couldn’t think of another way to do it as a 3D model; the front was an easier task as I obviously had the illustration to work with however the back wasn’t quite to easy. Once I’d made the shape with all the contouring, I then used fine bits of sugarpaste to blend into the model to create the colours on his coat.
I then did the same with ‘Belle’, creating two halves so that Boo could sit within her arms. The head I decided to model just the face and then build up the back of the head with Belle’s bob hairstyle.
I then glued ‘Boo’ together with edible glue, followed swiftly with ‘Belle’, wrapping her arms around Boo. I then had to pop a toothpick into ‘Boo’ so I could attach his ears securely.
I rolled then cut a strip of brown sugarpaste and laid it over ‘Belle’s’ head to give myself a guide of where her hair would go. I then cut fine strips, rolled them then placed onto the brown base guide to create strands of hair.
The next step was to roll the sugarpaste I’d mixed up to create the right colour and roll it as this as I could to create Belle’s clothes. I added the skirt first and then moved onto her top. Belle’s skirt had a lovely little pattern in it and although I did think about leaving it, I decided that making lots of little holes in the paste, I would then be able to plug the holes with white sugarpaste to create the pattern.
Adding the pattern to her skirt was a very laborious task. Whilst I have lots of modelling tools I found a tooth pick to be the easiest thing to use to create the small holes and then plug with the white.
All main elements were assembled, the next step was to place Belle’s head and Boo’s ears onto the base I’d created.
Once Belle’s head was on I started work on the rest of her hair as her head was just a flat model. I made a large ball and then molded it carefully into shape. Then, just as I had done with her fringe I set about cutting and modelling each strand of her hair.
My daughter is dairy and gluten intolerant and as I had a few people coming for her party I made a chocolate sponge, buttercream icing and with sugarpaste icing over the cake for the bottom tier.
The top tier was for my daughter as it was the smaller of the two so I made a dairy and gluten free vanilla sponge cake with dairy free buttercream icing, covered with a green sugar paste icing to look like grass. I then cut out white picket fencing to decorate the side.
Belle and Boo were then placed on top to give me an idea of where I wanted to position them.
In Belle and Boo ‘The Birthday Surprise’ they have a birthday picnic, so it was this I wanted to create. I mixed some white sugarpaste with blue to get the colour about right and then modelled it on the cake. The pattern detail I then marked up with a toothpick.
To add some finishing touches I then piped dairy free buttercream which I had dyed green around the base of the top tier and around Belle and Boo themselves. I also made some tiny flowers to look like daisies in the grass.
Using Belle and Boo Mini Bunting & Twine pack and some plastic piping I then made some bunting to go over the birthday picnic and the final touch was the Belle and Boo badge from the Belle and Boo birthday badge card we gave our daughter.
The finished Belle and Boo birthday cake in detail.
Thank you Clare and Mandy for a really lovely Blog post on their Belle and Boo!