How many times have you picked up a piece of really gorgeous-looking cake and bitten into it, only to find that it contained a really bland piece of sponge inside?
There was no such problem with Milton Keynes’ 50th birthday cake, which tasted fantastic, writes Anne Green.
In fact the MK50 cake was not actually one cake, but a number of different ones, arranged into a dream confection of a landscape, representing the whole of Milton Keynes and containing flavours such as spiced pear and ginger, white chocolate and cranberry, lemon, traditional fruit cake, and carrot cake.
All Milton Keynes life was there at Middleton Hall on Sunday at the centre:mk: Xscape, the Peace Pagoda, Willen Lake with a dragon boat, Wolverton Station, the Enigma machine from Bletchley Park, the Frog Clock at Intu, the postbox painted gold in honour of Greg Rutherford and (of course) the concrete cows.
The centrepiece was a six-tier cake, which had layers dedicated to sport in MK, the Open University and local businesses.
The level of detail on the cake was astonishing, with some unusual touches, such as a moving train, and an electronic display board on the front of the Xscape building.
Also astonishing is the ingredients list, as the cake used over 17kg of chocolate, 16.5 kg of butter, 11.5 litres of cream and 283 eggs.
A huge amount of work went into the design and production of the cake.
Karrin Simpson, who made the cake, explained how it all happened: “I heard about Milton Keynes turning 50, last July, and decided to approach the council to see if I could help or be a part of the celebrations in some way.
“I met with Lallie Davis who is the project leader and we discussed ideas for ‘the cake’. Kellie asked me if I would like to take this on and I said yes! I was thrilled and honoured.”
Karrin is no stranger to large scale cake production, as she made a regal four-tier traditionally iced cake with intricate decorations for the Queen’s 90th birthday last year. That cake was distributed to shoppers at Intu.
The MK50 birthday cake was a project on an even larger scale, and was a team effort, with thanks due to Anne, Laura and Angie from John Lewis; Hayley McPherson from Milton Keynes Cupcakery; Gill Prince for the images used on the Xscape cake; Partyrama for festive balloons; and Rock Chorus for their brilliant singing.
Karrin said: “Producing the cake has been the most amazing experience. The team that put this together had never met, let alone worked together but it sincerely has been a joy from start to finish.”
The cake was assembled at the MK50 Exhibition in Middleton Hall on Friday, displayed all day on Saturday and cut up and distributed to the eager crowd assembled there on Sunday afternoon.
So was it disappointing seeing all that hard work disappear so quickly as people ate the cake?
“No,” Karrin said. “Seeing people smile as they approached our cake and recognised various landmarks was lovely, but cutting it up and seeing people enjoy eating the cake was even better!
“The most amazing thing to come from this it that Milton Keynes Museum are going to keep the Pagoda cake and some sugar work to display in their museum.
“The team will become a part, if only a very small part, of Milton Keynes history… we were all rather humbled by that.”
After all the excitement of the weekend, it’s now back to business as usual for Karrin.
As well as being a cake artist extraordinaire, she also provides teaching and coaching in the art of cake production.
You can see more of Karrin’s amazing cakes at her online cake gallery.