I am a great believer that when it comes to doing cakes that look like other objects they should look as realistic as humanly possible. This cake was for a lovely gentleman celebrating his 80th birthday with family and friends and he wanted to be able to include all their names and have some sort of family tree in there. Between us we agreed on doing an old-fashioned writing desk with a family tree on parchment on top with all the plaques of his family members being removable so he could give them to them as keepsakes. The cake itself was a rich fruit cake, steeped in brandy and carved into shape before being covered in white marzipan (I can’t stand the yellow stuff, just don’t like the look of it) and chocolate brown fondant icing which had been mixed with a touch of beige, black and red icing to give the mottled wood effect. The writing desk itself was modelled on one owned by my wonderful late Granny and which is now in my sister’s safekeeping. As well as being very ornate, it is inlaid with a leather pad upon which to write. This was achieved by rolling out a thin piece of brown fondant, cutting it into a square and inlaying it with decorative line moulds that were then painted gold and black. The whole thing was then varnished in edible glaze to give it a slightly leathery shine. The cake board was rolled with a wood grain effect rolling pin and airbrushed brown but no before “res ipsa loquitur” (happy birthday in latin) was scrawled in it, much like a naughty schoolboy might have done. A close up of the family tree in sugar The family tree itself was entirely edible and made from pastillage. The parchment piece was rolled out then curled up, cut and allowed to dry before being airbrushed to look old. The plaques were also cut and left to dry. The tree itself was drawn on using a combination of Sugarflair edible pens and painting using paste colours. The names were all hand painted in calligraphy style and overpainted with gold embellishments before being attached with a small amount of royal icing so they could later be removed. The seal was red fondant painted with edible glaze and there is even a seal just to the side and fake wax – also out of fondant. Around the the sides of the cake are the scales of justice, a gavel and a judge’s wig as well as important initials as the gentleman was a retired solicitor. The only thing not edible was the pen although the stem was wrapped in black fondant. All in all a very beautiful and satisfying cake to make.