I have been hinting at the very special collaboration that I have been working on for some time now, but I had been careful to keep the details under wraps – well, other than a little bit of a preview over at the home of our very lovely and very generous sponsors.
However, on Sunday, I was finally able to reveal the full collaboration in all its glory, going public online a few days later, and I have been thrilled with the response.
A few of you have asked to know a little more about how this came about, so I thought I would pen a little post to let you know the full story of The Greatest Showpiece.
As the son of my very best friend since sixth form college, Jacob is very precious to me and, as he was conveniently born just as I was getting into cake decorating and sugar artistry, I have been very privileged to be able to make all of his milestone cakes throughout his life so far.
Jacob is a massive fan of cake – particularly of eating it – and as his fifth birthday started to loom, he took it upon himself to design his own special cake creation inspired by the vivid colours, dynamic action and stirring soundtrack of his favourite film, The Greatest Showman.
He refused to tell anyone else about his plans, instead insisting that he had to be the one to tell me all about it and, when we managed to coordinate our schedules for a sit down (four-year-olds are busy little bees, you know!), he revealed the impossible confection that only the limitless imagination of a child can dream up.
Naturally we had to watch the film together as he told me of his hopes and as it progress, he pointed out all of the elements that his dream cake would incorporate: his favourite characters and animals, various design elements of the film’s impressive sets and some key inclusions – he wanted Anne the Trapeze Artist to be sat in her hoop – WHICH SHOULD ACTUALLY SPIN – oh, and the cake should play the movie soundtrack too, of course.
I originally laughed off Jacob’s outlandish requests, but on learning that Jacob has been rushed into hospital only a few days later with a suspected asthma attack – coupled with the fact that both his mum and dad were facing redundancy, I decided I wanted to do something wonderful for the family and just see if I couldn’t make this impossible dream come true.
Obviously, I knew that I would not be able to pull off such a huge project single-handedly and so, I decided to reach out to some of my best friends in the world of cake and see if they would be prepared to give me a hand.
Quite honestly, I was blown away by the support I received – this project would not have been possible without the whole incredible team – and my friends Michael and Hayley over at Fabricake Sugarcraft Ltd, who kindly agreed to sponsor the project, donating many of the materials used by the artists involved. I am truly grateful for the hard work and time that everyone donated to the project, entirely free of charge.
Of course, another tricky aspect of the project was to coordinate getting all of the wonderful pieces to me, down on the south coast as my talented team included artists from all over England, Scotland and even Northern Ireland. This is how my Mr Baker’s Blog on Tour road trip came to be, as I embarked on a nine-day cross-country road trip to visit as many of the artists as I could – I am especially thankful though to those individuals went out of their way to assist me in this, either by meeting me partway, or, in some cases, even travelling all the way down to me.
With many of the pieces incredibly well-packed for safe transportation, I was reluctant to unpack them ahead of the party and so, it was until I assembled them all together at Jacob’s fifth birthday party in Southampton last Sunday that I finally was able to see them in the flesh. And in all honesty? I was gobsmacked. They all did me incredibly proud.
The finished cake featured seven hand-created tiers, including the big top featured at the end of the movie; Barnum’s original museum, adorned with intricately hand-painted character banners; the elaborately embroidered outfit worn by the film’s star, Hugh Jackman, along with his unique Prince of Humbug top hat and crown combo; and a box of peanuts.
Oh. and of course, as requested, a topper of Anne the Trapeze Artist, which actually rotated.
The museum part of the design also featured a built in sound system, which allowed the movie soundtrack to be played throughout the party.
Surrounding the main cake was an extravagant recreation of the film’s final ensemble scene, featuring incredibly realistic edible sculptures of lions, horses and elephants, as well as a whole host of characters from the film – and a lifelike recreation of Jacob himself as the ringmaster.
The impressive display features contributions from Angie Harris of Angie Scott Cakes, Claire Anderson of Clairella Cakes, Rob Baker-Gall of Mr Baker’s Cakes (that’s me!), Trudy Smith of The Chain Lane Cake Co., Emma Stewart of Truly Scrumptious Cakes by Design, Hayley O’Beirnes of Gadget Cakes, Vicky Teather of Yellow Bee Cake Co., Zoe Hopkinson of Zoe’s Fancy Cakes, Kelly Alger of Caked Away, Laura Dodimead of Life in Sugar, Julie Rogerson of Julie’s Cake in a Box, Jacqui Kelly of Totally Sugar, Kelly McWilliam of Kelly McWilliam – Cake Artist, Becky Jenkins of Becky Jenkins Sugar Artist, Zoe Burmester of Sugar Street Studios, Etty van Urk of Cake Dutchess and Sarah Bray of Daisy Cakes, and, as I mentioned above, it was generously sponsored by Fabricake Sugarcraft Ltd, in Southend-on-Sea, Essex.
Jacob was completely awestruck by the incredible display, spending most of the party just staring at it and all of his friends and family were equally blown away! They took what was left after the party home with them and I love that their house is now adorned with all of the incredible models and sculptures. I was so very beyond thrilled with the response both at the party and online, and I am already starting to worry about how I will top this next year!
In the meantime, be sure to visit ‘The Greatest Showpiece’ over on Facebook to see more of the mesmerising pieces and to check out the reveal video.