Ever since Megan and I started doing cakes I’ve wanted to do a fairy cake. I’ve been fascinated by fairies my whole life. In the magical world of childhood, there were many times when I would lay in the grass, very still and very quiet, hoping to see one of the magical creatures. Even though I grew up and left childhood behind, I still hold my fascination with fairies, as many people do. In my heart I know that they are not real but there is just something enchanting about the idea of these gentle, fragile, magical little beings.
I’ve tried to never lose that sense of wonder and fascination of the whimsical. I know that fairies don’t really exist but I’ve never seen the harm in pretending that they do. C.S. Lewis once said, “You and I who still enjoy fairy tales have less reason to wish actual childhood back. We have kept its pleasures and added some grown-up ones as well.” I have never lost the pleasure of fairies. When they were little, I taught my three daughters to lay in the grass the way that I did when I was a child. As an adult, I have tried to fill my house with whimsy. I have Cupboard Keepers hanging in my kitchen (wooden fairies who help me with my baking). I don’t know if they help with the cakes or not but I just like having their company.
So, recently, when we were asked to do a fairy cake, you can imagine that we jumped at the chance!! What fun!!! Just think….a chance to create a magical, whimsical world of fairies on a cake. We had sort of had a fairy garden in mind when we did the competition cupcakes but, with only being allowed to do six cupcakes in that category, we couldn’t fully expand the idea. This would be an entire cake, and not just a single layer….a three tiered cake! Yaaaaayyyyyy!!!
A sweet friend wanted the cake for her little twin girls first birthday. The cake would be a fairy garden. We were excited because, other than a few specific requests, we were allowed to use our creative freedom to craft the miniature garden. My head was exploding!! Can’t you just see Megan rolling her eyes?! I know what she was thinking……..”Oh no, Mama is going to go nuts with this one!!!”
Our friend wanted her little girls depicted as fairies on the cake. We would do flower petal dresses and flower garlands on their heads. It would be fun to do the baby girl fairies. One would be dressed in lavender, the other in yellow. She also asked if the top layer of the cake could be a tree stump with the girls sitting on the stump. Some of her other requests were to include gnomes, woodland creatures and toadstools……oh, the toadstools!!
There were two weeks between the cake marathon weekend and the time that the fairy cake was due. As soon as the cake marathon weekend was over we got to work. As you can imagine, with so many components on this cake, it would take hours for us to think through the logistics, carefully craft each miniature piece, and allow plenty of time for it all to dry. We rolled up our sleeves.
We started with the toadstools. I had done the toadstools for the competition cupcakes but since I was spending so much time on the fairies, Megan took on the toadstools. They were going to be light pink, pink, and red, and as the toadstool forest began to take shape, we started to fall in love with this cake. Ferns were added, snails, dragonflies, flowers and, lastly, a hedgehog.
One of my biggest concerns was the crafting of the fairies. They were so delicate that I was even afraid to handle them to work on the tiny details. The twins had brilliant blue eyes so, of course, the fairies had to have bright blue eyes. One of the girls was a redhead, one was a brunette, so tiny little curls were painted on each head with food coloring. Garlands were added to their hair and skirts and tiny little, curly-toed shoes. I carried them around with kid gloves so as not to damage the fragile creations.
We decided to add a teapot, teacups and cupcakes so that the fairies could have a tea party. Megan really went to town with these. Tiny flowers were shaped into teacups. They made me want to shrink myself to the size of the fairies so that I could join them.
The big day for the party came. It was one of those rare occasions when we were actually invited to the party that the cake was for. We always have mixed feelings about that. It seems a lot easier to deliver the cake and leave, rather than stay and watch people eat our cakes. Don’t misunderstand, cakes are meant to be eaten but baking and serving food has always been a very personal thing for me. It’s just a little unnerving for me to see a room full of total strangers eating our cake. I know……it’s kind of silly.
We arrived in plenty of time with our tools, components, and, of course, the cake in hand. There was a lovely table set up with an adorable toadstool-spotted tablecloth and two miniature topiaries. It was all just soooo cute. Our friend had a fairy tent set up with toadstool chairs and a little table inside. There were paper flowers and butterflies everywhere. It was absolutely magical!
We knew that construction would take at least a half hour so we didn’t waste any time getting started. We had several boxes of components because there was just sooooooo much that had to go on the cake. We were setting the cake up outside in the breezeway, between the house and the garage. We were somewhat concerned about the weather since the day had started out humid, and fondant really doesn’t like humidity very much. We had a reprieve, though, and there was a pleasant breeze that was starting to blow. There were some empty tables set up that we could put the boxes on as we worked on construction. I put the box with the fairies on a table and turned to work on the cake. We stacked the cake and secured it.
Suddenly, we heard a crash and turned around to find that the box with the fairies in it had blown off the table. The breezeway was indeed a breezeway and the breeze blowing through had really picked up. While it was helping to break up the humidity, there wasn’t enough weight to hold the box down and it blew off the table.
Our crowning components to the cake, our precious fairies were in that box.
I wanted to cry. I had worked so hard on the details of the fairies. We wanted them to be perfect. I barely had the heart to turn it over. This is one of the disasters that Megan and I had always feared. We had had some stressful times with cakes, things that went wrong at the last minute, but we had always been able to pull things off. Would that be the case now?
I opened the box…..
4 out of 6 of the delicate dragonflies were broken. Okay…..it’s okay. A few flowers had lost their petals. Okay, still okay. We had made lots of extras. If there is one thing that we have learned along the way, it’s make more components than you will need. The cups and saucers for the teaset were broken but we felt confident that we could glue them back together.
I looked at the fairy with the yellow dress. The only thing broken, surprisingly, were a couple of petals from her dress. I was pretty sure that we could glue them back together so that you would not even be able to see the break. The fairy with the lavender dress was, AMAZINGLY, in one piece…….that is, until I dropped her after picking her up. There went some of the petals on her dress.
We pulled ourselves together, knowing that we had a cake to finish so we went back to work.
Ferns in place. Check. Gnomes in place. Check. Dragonflies, snails, and flowers in place. Check. There wasn’t enough room on the cake for the hedgehog so we just put him on the table beside the cake, kind of like he had wandered off the cake. Sometimes, we make so many components that we end up not using all of them. After all, there is a fine line between having enough visual interest and overkill.
We lifted the fairies out of the box, put them in place, and once they were in place, glued their petal skirts back together. Duff Goldman always says that if you see something on a cake that looks slightly out of place, it’s probably covering up a crack or a hole where someone put their finger through the fondant. We had plenty of miniature flowers and we put a tiny flower on one of the cracks on the skirt that was especially bad. I don’t think that anyone ever noticed.
In the end, our friend cried when she saw the fairies, she cried when she saw the cake all put together and she cried when it was time to cut it (because she didn’t really want to cut it). She said that she almost cried when she tasted it because it was so good. That’s all that mattered to us. That’s why we do cakes.
These fairies must have been magical. They flew into the party for two precious little girls, on a magical afternoon, landed on the cake and entertained everyone for the whole afternoon.