Saturday 5 December 2015

Christmas Card Cake

   Christmas cake card. Christmas card cake. Cake Christmas card. I'm not sure what the correct phrase would be, but that's what I made.
   I love Christmas cards but I actually rarely receive them. I have very few friends (but extremely close and worth their weight in platinum), a small family, as is Seeg's. So I get few cards, either in person or in the post. It makes me kind of sad. I actually bought one of those Christmas card hangers a few years ago and I put three cards on it in the end. Never again!
   But though I receive so few, I do still like to send them. Mostly because I like the excuse of buying cards. I'm a stationery nut, you see. But cards all end up in the bin in the end, forgotten about, or their front covers cut out and used as gift tags by grandparents and children. It's a wonderful use for such pretty cards to be honest, but more often than not, they just go in the bin.
   So this year I thought it might be nice to try something else, something that would be remembered a little longer. Cake.
   Cake. A Christmas cake card cake Christmas.
   I use small 100mm PiP boxes for posting my book flower jewellery, it keeps them from getting crushed in the post, but they still fit through the letter box and are still classified as a large letter by Royal Mail, so it saves the customer money as well as disappointment. Plus the boxes are so small and cute. Perfect for a slice of cake - you can tell I was hungry when I came up with this idea, can't you?
   I figured that if I baked the cake as a loaf rather than a circle, I could slice it to perfectly fit into the box, and not only would it be the perfect size for a box that will fit through a letter box like any other Christmas card, but it would also provide the perfect single serving of cake!

   Baking the cake does not come first. This is the last thing you do - you want to post it cool but also as fresh as it can be, so ideally you want to either make the cake first thing in the morning and post it no sooner than last thing in the evening, or simply the next morning.
   Instead, the first thing you do is write and illustrate the boxes. I bought 5 white 100mm PiP boxes - sturdy and reliable, fits through the letter box, counts as a large letter, perfect size for a single slice of cake, and being white means it's much easier to decorate with pen alone. I drew a nice holly pattern on the lid, leaving room for the stamp and writing the address in the middle, before turning it over and adding the Christmas message on the inside of the lid. Once I was happy with that, I assembled the box and gathered what I needed to package the cake. I used a simple cellophane bag, some tape, and then some strips of pretty tissue paper and some baker's twine to decorate, and gold shredded tissue to pad the edges of the box out.
   Only once your box and cake packaging is ready should you make the cake. Bake it in a loaf tin rather than a cake tin. Don't worry if the tin is too wide for the box, or not high enough. The width of the tin was perfect for the box, but the cake was certainly not high enough, so I cut two slices and trimmed the edges down so they were level with eachother, set the box down beside them for reference and trimmed enough off of the tops of the two slices that they would fill the box comfortably when aligned together. This made a nice square slice of cake with little wasted space in the box.

   I used a cake serving knife to transfer the cake into the bag so I didn't make a mess of either bag or cake, and I placed it in the centre of the bag. I put it in the box at that point to make sure it fit - it did, so I didn't need to trim it. Then, starting from the bottom edge of the bag, I folded it up to push the air out and taped it down, then I folded the sides and taped them down, pushing more air out, and only then did I roll, fold and tape down the open edge.
   Then I took my strip of metallic tissue paper and wrapped it around before taping it at the back and then wrapped white and gold baker's twine around it - carefully, of course - before placing it in the box. I used shredded gold tissue paper to pad out the edges once the cake was in the box, then I decided to weigh it as an after-thought. It came to 89g, so I was only 11g under the 95p large letter maximum, but though it was close, it was enough, so I was happy. But it does go to show that you'll need to choose your cake carefully. Light and airy cakes mean that they'll cost less to send, but dense, heavy cakes are far less likely to be affected by rough handling. I chose a cake that was light-medium, but this wasn't on purpose, it was just my chosen cake.

   And, yes, I sent the first cake to myself. I wanted to know how it would arrive before I dared to send such a thing to friends and family and risk embarrassing myself and confusing them with a smooshed piece of cake. I did post it first class on Thursday, and it arrived Saturday (Christmas delays, I presume) like this:

   In short: perfect. Totally unharmed and unaffected. The shredded tissue did help to keep it protected and from moving around at all, while the box itself stopped it from being crushed. I couldn't be happier with the outcome, and I'm definitely going to be sending these to a few choice people! The cake itself was also as fresh and moist as the day I made it, which was Wednesday! So I'm really, really pleased!


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