The Bolton Elephants
Picture by Richard Holton Newsquest(Bolton)
And of course….for a food festival…why not team an elephant up with a stack of food. Simples huh?
With the Mayor of Bolton
But it is a little more thought through than that. We want to cover a whole lot of objectives with our li’l old cake. We want good PR, we want good press and most importantly….we want the cake to be enjoyed by the people of Bolton. So yeah….a great big elephant with the added height of a food tower….that’s gonna get good press. TICK.
But then it gets a little more complicated. We’re not going to deliver the cake and dish it out. No no no! We are going to hang around for a few days. (four days to be exact). We are going to feed hundreds of people…..and then (no, it’s not over yet) we’re going to transport it to a charity so that it will be enjoyed by the whole community.
So are you seeing the pitfalls yet? We have a cake (a massive cake) that is going to take a LOT of work (and more importantly time) to make….we are going to transport it (good luck with that one!!!). We are going to keep it hanging around (did I mention it’s summer?) and we are going to eat it (eventually!)… OH!…and do you remember the bit where I said it was CAKE???
So yes….TIME is my enemy. AND I KNOW IT. I know it from the start. I know it BEFORE the start. I know how much I want to do…..and I KNOW there isn’t enough time to do it. But let’s face it…. it’s me…..I’m gonna do it anyway! (Yeah….I have issues!)
So therein lies the problem my friends. We are dealing with perishables. We know that the moment that cake goes in….the clock starts ticking (and boy does my clock seem to tick super fast!).
So planning becomes everything. (Or should I say planning AND COFFEE become everything?).
Time is ticking
The cake structure deserves it’s own blog….In fact….watch this space….I’ll bring that to you in much more detail in my next post. (I know people wanna see.) In the meantime it stands to reason that the structure is a WHOLE lotta work in itself …I am TOTALLY making it all up….from sketches and ideas…to a 2.2m frame to the final sculpture….all from my messed up little brain. The process isn’t one I could explain to myself….let alone to anyone else!
Thank you Renshaw
So to the cake nitty gritty: I have to plan when to start exposing the cake. It’s great cake…bought in from a specialist and I’ve used it before….so I know what I’m dealing with and how long it will stay fresh. I allow 6 days before delivery to start loading the perishables….The cake, the chocolate ganache, the buttercream etc. With generous sponsorship from Renshaw baking I have a pallet full of goodies to work with. And I’m gonna need it!
But yeah….the perishable issue….it’s a minefield…and again…I will cover that properly in my next post….but suffice it to say…planning, hygiene, storage, transport….it all needs to be thought through meticulously.
So how much stuff (aka ingredients)? I’ll be honest….I lost track a little. My bad! I had 150kg sugarpaste and there aint much left, 20kg chocolate and as for rice krispie treat?? Well I know I made 45 batches, each of 500g!! So yup….the Elephant was no featherweight.
And ooooh…did I mention the food tower? Yeah….let’s not forget the whole OTHER cake sculpture that had to be done. I will admit…when I planned it all I very much assumed that the spaghetti wouldn’t happen….the grapes…the strawberries (all cake by the way) – I figured they were a nice option which I wouldn’t have time for. And yet…..you guessed it….when faced with not doing them……or not sleeping….sleep lost! Of course it did! Hence my 5am Periscope broadcasts to anyone who fancied propping me up at that ludicrous hour!
Pancake Cake Stack
So I said I’d fill you in on the ‘Scoping’. What’s the deal with that? Well Periscope is pretty new. It’s like Twitter and YouTube and Facebook….but kinda rolled into one. You register a free account (just like the other social media) and then you can broadcast live….or just watch! Watch anyone….and anything….anywhere. People walking down the pavement (yeah…that’s as dull as it sounds) or crazy people making cake elephants (that’s more like it!).
So I dived into Periscope head first….and let people watch my progress from start to finish. And let me tell you….it made a sometimes lonely job a WHOLE lot more fun
And the proof of the pudding? Unveiling a 2.2m elephant to the town of Bolton with a whole Periscope family behind me felt as though I had a whole bunch of people who ABSOLUTLEY understood what I’d invested into that creation. It was fantastic to have them there. From the celebrity chefs who came to cut her….to the people of Bolton joining in the fun and dishing out the cake.
With Masterchef’s John Torode
And the ultimate acclaim…..it was my Periscope Family who named Kimmy the elephant. Why Kim? Well ….because she had a ‘peachy’ bottom! Why else. #TeamKimmy
Kimmy finally went to Urban Outreach, a local charity that ensured that children and families in need got to share the cake and enjoy the community spirit. Well done Bolton.
Pop back next week when I’ll bring you all the secrets behind the construction of a mega-cake.
You can find Rosie on Periscope at @rosiecakediva