NOTE: This post was imported from my older blog cake-bit.tumblr.com. I didn’t want to have to re-post any of the pictures so, here it is! In all its original glory. FUS!
I’ve been scheming.
It’s one of the cruel ironies of my life that I love surprises, but have a very difficult time keeping secrets. As soon as I’ve even conceived of a surprise, I’m instantly like a water balloon filled to bursting; at the slightest pressure, I break and all the details come flooding forth.
Somehow, though, by the will of the gods, stalwart determination and a healthy dose of sheer, dumb luck, I was able to pull off a surprise this weekend (assisted hugely by J’s mom and amazing sister, Robyn.) We’d spent over a month planning, sneaking and scheming (quite fittingly) to throw a themed Game of Thrones dinner party for J’s birthday—and, best of all, he was totally, 100% surprised by it. I guess it helps that he’s oblivious when it comes to noticing details like four whole chickens defrosting in the fridge, or plastic swords poking out of my closet.
Originally, the plan was to set everything up while J was at work Sunday afternoon. He was scheduled to start work at two o’clock and get home around 6:30, at which point everyone would yell SURPRISE and we would get to feastin’. Thankfully, one of his co-workers asked him to come in early so he could go to a doctor’s appointment, which bought us a few extra hours. Hurray for Mark’s health problems, whoo! I’m not sure how I ever rationally expected to be able to get everything cooked, decorated and set up in four hours. Even with the extra time we were totally down to the wire and barely had enough time to put the finishing touches on.
Most of the baking I was able to do the week before and freeze. There wasn’t much we could do about the food until J left the house, so as soon as the door slammed behind him, we all jumped up and lit a fire under it. I was running around trying to work on 1000 little details, and every time I walked back into the kitchen, Chris and Robyn had finished another dish. I had such a good time working with these incredible women. Normally I have a very hard time delegating things and like to have an iron grip on every detail of what I’m involved with, so this was a good exercise in learning to trust in the skills and talents of other people. Without them, dinner would have been a cake and a bowl of butter with some Wonder Bread. Also I would have been bawling.
I had about four dozen mini cakes to glaze. Thank God for stacking racks.
Between the make-shift sweetrolls and the Skyrim themed cake, I think we were bordering on a fusion GoT-Skyrim party.
Even with doing dishes constantly, the kitchen always seemed to return to a state of this ^.
Robyn made these amazing placemats:
I thought they were printed out when I first saw them, but she did them by hand. Say WHAAAAAAAT
We moved two tables together to form a traditional super-long feasting table. C&R ran out at the last minute to look for table coverings, and came back with some huge brown curtains—perfect.
You can buy a life-sized replica of the Iron Throne from the HBO store for $30,000. (There are some awesome User Reviews for that, check ‘em out.) OR, you can go to the dollar store and buy two pieces of black bristol board and using a common genus of dining room chair, fashion your OWN.
The iron price is apparently $2.00. (Three days later the chair is still like that, FYI.)
When he came in, I whisked him away upstairs to get into his costume: a cloak Chris had quickly made for the occasion and a shiny silver crown with “Birthday Prince” on it, accessorized with a giant sword. I myself was dressed as a Night’s Watchmen, so he figured that the get together we were allegedly heading out to was a costumed affair. But while we were upstairs, everyone hiding in the basement and festooned in costumes of their own, snuck upstairs. They lit the candles, got the food ready, and as we came downstairs they blared the GoT theme music and yelled “Surprise!” (I myself voted for the more thematically-fitting “Plot Twist!” but I was in the minority.)
The official menu was as follows:
- Rustic Leek Soup
- Honeyed Chicken
- Mushroom and Brie tarts, on puffed pastry and short crust
- White Beans and Bacon
- Seasoned Beef Ribs
- Buttered Carrots and Parsnips
- Crusty breads with home-churned butter and roasted garlic
- A selection of fruits and cheeses
- Hot mulled wine and cold ale
Many of the recipes were taken from or modified from recipes found at Inn at the Crossroads, the Official GoT food blog and cook book. G.R.R.M. himself endorses the site and has probably tried all the dishes. (Twice. In one sitting. Man loves his food. —J)
For dessert, we had two heaping platters of lemon cakes, honey cakes, and rustic spiced apple pies with liqueur-soaked raisins.
Which brings us to:
I am a notoriously bad estimator. Generally, I’m an under-estimator. I can look out at a room of a hundred people and think “Mmm, yeah, maybe 35-40?” So when I was making J’s cake, I thought to myself: okay, I need a cake that will serve 15-20 servings.
Dear god I was so wrong.
As I was building it, I had a sinking feeling as I realized how huge it actually was. If I didn’t already have certain pieces of the decor made, I would have split it into two. As it was, the thing probably could have fed 50 people.
Giga-cake or not, it was fashioned with love and lots and lots of work. Not GoT themed, but the Skyrim setting is similar enough that it blended in. I find it hard to photograph a cake like this: very large and square in shape, with lots and lots of tiny details.
Flanked on either side by dessert platters. Doing my part to keep Redpath in business.
Namira’s Rot and Snowberries.
The salt piles were really salt piles!
Boiled cream tarts, bowls of butter, potatoes and cheese with some forgotten leeks under the table.
I wanted to play with the idea of how items stack and sit in Skyrim—that is to say, they don’t. Not really. There is a hilarious physics system in place and items sit on top of one another at weird angles and it’s virtually impossible to get them to stand upright.
My favourite detail is definitely the goat horn sconces. No one guessed that I had fitted them with real birthday candles until I lit it and I must admit, it looked super cool.
I was slightly worried about the proximity of the flames to the fondant, but nothing melted or burned.
We were sure that we would have a billion left-overs, but all we had was some chicken, some beans and about 3/4 of a massive cake. (Chocolate cake with alternating Nutella and cream-cheese buttercreams, as it were.) The cake got parceled out to various homes (but there’s still some kicking around here, too.)
All in all it was an awesome night with great company. Happy Birthday, to mine own sweetroll!