I really enjoyed making the shoes for this cake.
I wanted them to look as realistic as possible with the blocky toe.
I bought a pair of cheapy ballerina pumps which I could then cut up to produce a template for the sole and upper.
I began by cutting out the soles of the shoes and setting them aside to harden. I placed them on some foam for this as it would allow the air to get to the underside of the sole too.
I try to do bits like this a week or two in advance.
The first reason for this is so that they have sufficient time to harden and dry out and the second reason is that if anything goes pear shaped there is time to start again.
If I was to start the sole two days before delivery and things went wrong I would be doing a couple of nightshifts!
This is where planning your cake really helps. I always look over my orders for the coming months, order whatever I will need and plan for decorations that need to be made in advance.
If there are problems with stock or delivery there is then time to get it sorted. On a weekly basis I sit down on a Sunday evening and plan my week ahead and make a schedule in my diary.
This is essential to make sure cakes are ready in time but is also really useful for someone working from home. When I am busy and make a plan I get lots done but on the occasions when I have a quiet week workwise and have more free time I get far less done.
I wasn’t so good with planning in the early days of my business and did a few nightshifts as a result which was gruelling and made me question what I was doing. It wasn’t the work but simply the lack of planning.
So there you go. Make a plan!
Back to the shoes. Once the soles had hardened I made some little blocks of sugarpaste to sit at the toe of each sole. I used my template to cut out the shoe upper. I rolled out my sugarpaste so that it was thick enough to be firm and support itself but thin enough to look like a fabric shoe. I brushed some edible glue around the edge of the sole and put the upper in place. I did not put any glue on the block because this would have made tweaking the sugarpaste difficult.
Once I had the upper stuck to the sole I need to make two vertical cuts in the sugarpaste at the toe end.
Having looked at ballet shoes on Google (would have been a trip to the library before this) I noticed that the real ballet shoes had seams around the toe so I wanted to create this.
Once again I set the shoes aside to harden and then did some other stuff for 3 days. I now needed to line the shoes inside to cover joins.
For this I rolled out the sugarpste finely as I did not want to end up with bulky ballet shoes. The next thing to do was to add a trim around the top edge of the shoe. I brushed a small line of glue around the top of the inside and outside of the shoe and applied the strip of sugarpaste.
I had to leave a glue free gap where the ribbons were going to be inserted. I made a cut on the inside of each strip to insert the ribbons. Once the ribbons were in place I could brush some glue in the gap and secure the strip and ribbon.
I chose to use real ribbon because the shoes would make a really nice keepsake but sugarpaste ribbon would snap as soon as the shoes were removed from the cake.
There was just one thing left to do with the shoes and this was to make them not quite so square shaped where the upper joins the sole. I did this using one of my clay shaping tools which is very much like a ribbon insertion tool.
I used this to create more of a curve at the bottom of the shoe to give them a more rounded look. The tool I used works better than cutting with a craft knife as it enables the user to cut downwards and take little sections away at a time. Even though the shoes had hardened by then the parts underneath the cuts I made were still soft enough to make into a nice rounded shape.
All around the base of the cake was an Art Nouveau border as this was one of the themes my client wanted to include. I also decorated the side of the tier with a foam rose. Foam flowers are a great alternative to sugar or fresh flowers as they have a very realistic look.
The last thing was the greeting in an Art Nouveau font which good old Google provided me with. All I had to do was re size it and transfer it onto the cake drum.
I had some great feedback from my client who said that his wife was thrilled with her birthday cake.