The housewarming cake

This has to be the most difficult cake I've ever done. I haven't had much practice with making the cake itself into a 3D shape, and this house is an awkward shape to start with. However, I'd decided that I wanted a cake in the shape of our house, and once I've decided something, I don't like to chicken out of it!

The basic house shape. The main house is fruit cake, the extension is sponge cake. It took quite a lot of marzipan padding to get the rather irregular pieces of cake into anything resembling a house-shape...

I tried to use ready-to-roll icing to cover the cake, but it soon became apparent that this was doomed -- the cake was too high, and the sheer quantity of icing required was too heavy, with the result that the top corners of the cake just ripped straight through the icing. Oops. (I don't seem to have any photos of these intermediate disaster stages, probably because I was too busy flapping around like a headless chicken.) So I realised I'd have to use royal icing, something which I've avoided doing ever since my mum first let me have a go at icing the family Christmas cake -- no matter how hard I try it ends up looking like a rough surface that's been hosed down in whitewash. ... Fortunately, the outside of our house is a rough surface that's been hosed down in whitewash.

I did consider just using grey icing for the roof, but then decided that seemed a bit too easy, so I decided to make individual slates out of coloured modelling icing -- I just rolled out a thin piece of icing on to baking parchment and sliced it into rectangles, then left it to dry so that the slates were at least half-firm when they were placed on the roof.

Nearly there! ... Well, roof finished, but still no windows or doors, and not much of a garden either -- although you may notice that the patio is finished, right down to the blades of grass (angelica) between the paving-stones (icing). By this point it was starting to look like a house, though, and I was just about getting over the oh-god-it's-never-going-to-work panic that I always get midway through these projects.

I briefly considered making proper windows out of boiled-sweet 'glass', but decided that was far too much hassle. (Lazy? Me? Surely not...) Instead I just drew the windows on rice paper with a licquorice pen, and stuck them to the side of the house with a little water. I was glad we'd kept the estate agent's house-details, as it meant I could use that to get the proportions right for some of the windows. For the rest I had to just keep going outside and looking at the relevant windows. Goodness only knows what the neighbours thought I was up to, dashing outside barefoot with my clothes covered in icing sugar, staring at the house for a few seconds, and then running back in again...

The finished cake!

Just in case you'd forgotten the house number... I bought the candles for Sion's 31st but in the end they didn't go with the cake.

The house from the inside ...

... and from the outside. (You can see the detritus of cake-decorating in the background.)

The cake garden, with the real garden in the background.

The house being menaced by giant cake-decorations!

With candles lit, at the housewarming party (with copious amounts of booze in the background!) ...

... and finally, the point of the whole thing -- cutting the cake so that people can eat it.