It is a little known fact that I am a Duchess. The Duchess of Cakebridge is my exact title, but I try to keep that on the down low. I just want to be treated like a regular girl. Just your average cake decorator with a YouTube channel (don't forget to subscribe!). There is a lot of pressure put upon royalty.
Naturally, since I am the Duchess of Cakebridge I have spent a lot of time with the Duchess of Cambridge. Everyone is obsessed with her! What is Kate wearing, eating, doing every moment of the day. I’ve always admired her style, so I decided to make a handbag cake… fit for a Duchess! Kate adores sticky toffee pudding, but that’s too delicate to shape into a novelty cake. So I used some brown sugar in my vanilla cake recipe and folded in some toffee bits. It’s really quite lovely with a spot of tea.
I hope that Kate Middleton, my fellow Duchess and old friend, likes the handbag I’ve made her. Happy Birthday Kate!
** Speaking of birthdays...I've got a very important one coming up. How To Cake It is turning 1! On February 9th, we'll be celebrating the one year anniversary of my YouTube channel. Can you believe it's been that long already?? And for my How To Cake It birthday there is nothing more in the world that I want than to celebrate with 1 million YouTube subscribers! We're getting so close guys, so make sure you subscribe, tell your friends to subscribe, tell your family to subscribe, tell your dog to subscribe (what? I heard he likes the cat videos...), and let's get to a cool mil. <3
Where Do I Buy All My Ingredients & Tools??
Now in Cakebridge, we all believe that organization and order is of the utmost importance. Which is why I always ensure to sort my tools and ingredients on Parsel for you to find before baking your cakes - find them all here. Now it's off to the grocery store with you - spit spot!
Baking Your Cake!
Ingredients & Tools You Will Need:
2 x 6lb portion of Vanilla Toffee Cake - find my recipe here
2 x rectangle pans (9” x 13” x 3” )
1 x square pan (10” )
Once you have completed your Vanilla Toffee Batter, pour 4 1/2lbs into each 9 x 13” pan, and 3lbs into the 10” square pan. Bake your cakes according to my handy chart found here. Always test your cakes with a toothpick inserted in the centre, because everyone’s oven is different.
Carving a Handbag Cake!
Ingredient & Tools You Will Need:
1 x Recipe Italian Meringue Buttercream - find my recipe here
Simple Syrup - find my recipe here
Small Serrated Knife
Small Offset Spatula
2 x Cake Boards (12 x 16” or similar)
5 x ¼” wood dowels
I highly recommend chilling your fully cooled cakes for a few hours before carving. I have been using this trick for many, many years and it really helps to reduce the amount of crumbs.
To prepare your cake boards, you will need to cut two smaller boards out of one of your full boards. One board for the base of your cake, and one for support in the middle. I cut my base board to measure 11 ¾” x 4 ¾”. Then I cut my middle support board to measure 9 ½” x 3”, and poked a hole in the centre. Your remaining full cake board will be the one you use to build your cake on. Just secure your base board to the surface with a little masking tape.
Remove all three cakes from their pans and level them. I also cut off the bottom caramelized layer as well as the sides. Once my cakes were all leveled and trimmed the 9 x 13” cake became 8 ¼” x 12”, and the 10” square cake became 9 ¼” square. All three cakes were 1 ½” high. Watch me level and layer cakes in my video tutorial here.
Now it’s time to cut these cakes into strips which will then be stacked on top of one another to form a tall rectangle. Starting with the first 8 ¼” x 12” rectangle, I cut a 5” strip. This left me with two strips that measured 5” x 12” and 3 ¼” x 12”.
Moving on to the second 8 ¼” x 12” rectangle cake, I cut a 4 ¾” strip leaving me with two strips that measured 4 ¾” x 12” and 3 ½” x 12”.
For the 9 ¼” square cake, I cut it equally in half to create 2 strips that measured 4 5/8” x 9 ¼”. I need all of my strips to be 12” long, so I then cut a 2 ¾” piece of one of these strips to add length to the other one.
It’s time to stack these Vanilla Toffee cake strips so we can get carving. Don’t forget to shower your strips with simple syrup before you sandwich them together with Italian meringue buttercream.
Layer your strips as follows, from the bottom up:
5” x 12”
4 ¾” x 12”
4 5/8” x 9 ¼” plus the 4 5/8” x 2 ¾” ( this whole strip now measures 4 5/8” x 12”)
At this point you need to measure and cut your dowels to support the middle board. Insert one dowel into the cake, make a mark, and then cut it with your garden shears. I cut 4 dowels into 8 measured lengths and inserted them into the cake. Spread on a thin layer of buttercream before adding your board.
Place your middle board in the centre, spread on a thin layer of buttercream, and stack the rest of your cake strips as follows:
3 ½” x 12”
3 ¼” x 12”
Your remaining cake strip should measure 4 5/8” x 6 ½”. Cut it in half lengthwise so that you have two strips that measure 2 ¼” x 6 ½” and then cut ½” of the length of each one. This will leave you with two strips that measure 2 ¼” x 6”. Stack them on top of your cake side by side so that they create one cake layer that is 2 ¼” x 12”.
Now chill this tall stack of cake for at least half an hour or until your buttercream filling is firm!
Tea Time! Remember those two little 1/2 “ cake ends you cut off? Time to sit down and devour them with a cup of tea.
While that was a lovely break, we have a handbag cake to carve! I decided to carve my gift to Kate in the Kelly Bag shape. I mean, it’s a classic bag that every duchess should carry.
I cut the front, back and sides of my cake to create a tapered shape. I wanted the bag to be wider at its base, the type of handbag that can stand up. Then I created an indent at the sides where the leather would fold in on itself. Using an X-acto knife, make sure to cut away any of your base cake board that may have been revealed where you created the indent.
I’m sure you all know what’s next by now? You got it, crumb coat and chill. Trim your final dowel to the height of your entire cake, and insert it down the centre. Then, ice your cake once more and chill it again.
Psst - While you're waiting for your cake to chill, take a break, and sign up to be a How To Cake It VIP member. You get the full royal treatment, including early access to my videos!
Covering Your Handbag Cake!
Ingredients & Tools You Will Need:
2 ½ lbs White Fondant
2 lbs Black Fondant
Wilton Ivory Icing Colour
ChefMaster Buckeye Brown Gel Colour
Wilton Royal Blue Icing Colour
Wilton Cornflower Blue Icing Colour
Clear Food Grade Alcohol (like white rum, or vodka)
Dye 1lb of your white fondant tan using the Ivory and Buckeye Brown gel food colouring. Dye the remaining 1 1/2lbs royal blue with the Royal and Cornflower Blue gel colours.
Cover the two side of the handbag cake with the tan fondant and trim away the excess with a sharp knife. Then roll out the black fondant 1lb at me to cover the front and back of your bag. Trim away the excess at the bottom and along the top. I used a chopstick to guide my knife as I trimmed the sides. I wanted to leave a small overlap of black fondant where it meets the tan fondant at the sides.
I just love using an overstitch wheel whenever I can. This tool really adds life to the “leather” of the bag, by carefully rolling it along all the edges and the bottom. Anywhere you would find a seam on a real purse.
Now roll out the blue fondant to create a flap for the top. I measured my bag first to make sure I rolled my fondant to the right size. I pre cut the blue fondant to the right width, taking into consideration how the bag tapers at the top. Make a light mark on the front of your bag where the flap should land. Dampen the surface of your black fondant by brushing it lightly with water, and lay your blue fondant over top. Trim the blue fondant flap so that it is nice and straight at the back. Add stitch detail to the blue “leather” flap.
Since fondant is quite matte, I painted my cake to give it more life. I used Wilton Ivory icing colour diluted with white rum to paint the tan and black fondant. I used Wilton Royal Blue icing colour diluted in the same manner, to paint the blue flap of the bag. It’s important to paint in one direction to give your cake the cleanest finish.
Making Handbag Hardware!
Ingredients & Tools You Will Need:
3 oz gumpaste
Wilton Golden Yellow Icing Colour
Circle Cutters: 1 1/8”, ¾”, 3/8”,
¼” Square Cutter
Round Piping Tip #12 & #7
PME Strip Cutters #1 & #2
#18 Floral Wire
You need to make your handbag hardware ahead of time so that all the pieces will dry. I dyed my gumpaste with Wilton Golden Yellow before creating my hardware. I always like to dye a base colour when I am painting. This way if any highlighter or luster dust rubs off, it is much less noticeable.
I created loops, hooks, and clasp and a ring to use as hardware on my bag. I always have such fun making handbag cakes because you can be your own designer! Once all of your hardware is dry, brush on a thin layer of vegetable shortening and then paint all the pieces with gold highlighter. The shortening helps the fine powder adhere to the gumpaste.
When making a zipper, you don’t need to let dry like the other hardware details. You can purchase zipper molds now, but when started cake decorating they weren’t available yet. So I figured out a way to create the zipper pattern in a thin strip of gumpaste by pressing a strip cutter into it.
Use the leftover tan and black fondant to create a handle and a shoulder strap for your bag. Straps are tricky because you need to be precise but work quickly. If your fondant dries out, it will start to crack when you fold it around your hardware.
I made my handle and shoulder strap two tone, with the black fondant on the outside and the tan along the inside. This means I needed to work even faster! I also used my overstitch wheel once again to add stitch detail all along the edges of my straps.
I used some floral wire to help attach the loop hardware to the bag. Although floral wire is mainly used to make sugar flowers, it also comes in handy whenever your sugar work is on the heavy side. Always make sure to alert your client or guest when you use floral wire. Just remove those elements before cutting the cake.
There you have it. A handbag cake fit for a Duchess on her birthday. I really can’t wait until Kate returns to Cakebridge to visit me. It will be delightful!