One of my besties lives in Kenya and as she's a teacher she's always back for a good six week holiday in the summer. Fortunately her birthday also falls in the summer too, so this year her mum asked if I'd make her an Africa themed birthday cake with wild animals on it. Of course I was only too happy to help!
I started by making a round chocolate fudge cake, which I know she loves as I used the same recipe for one tier of my wedding cake. I won't go into the baking details as it's not too tough to make, but the recipe for this comes from Cakes for Romantic Occasions by May Clee-Cadman and is a classic that I've used lots of times before now.
Once the cake was baked and cooling, I made a start on the fondant animals and began with the lion. First, I used yellow fondant to create a ball for the main body. I put a cocktail stick through this to make sure that the head would eventually be able to stay on and then added four legs using the same colour fondant.
For the head, I rolled orange fondant into a ball which I then flattened a little. I used a cocktail stick to press lines around the edge of this before adding it on top of the body, as shown in the pictures below.
Using the same yellow fondant, I made the lion's face using a heart shaped cutter and then added a few finishing features like the nose, eyes, whiskers, and eventually tail.
My next job was the fondant monkey. I started by rolling two balls of brown fondant (one smaller than the other) and securing them together using a cocktail stick. Again, a heart shaped cutter came in handy for creating the little chap's face and I slowly added his features using a cocktail stick (as shown below).
For the ears, I put a small circle of the peach fondant on top of a slightly larger circle of brown fondant before cutting this in half and popping them on the side of his head. Then all I had to add was some arms and a tail before this little chilled out fellow was all finished:
The elephant was probably the most difficult to make as his big body constantly threatened to crush his fondant legs, whilst his trunk seemed unlikely to stay attached to his face. As always, cocktail sticks were mainly used to fix these issues, but I also found it difficult to decide what kind of face he should have.
As you can see in the middle picture below, I tried bigger eyes at first, but these just made me think of the Elephants on Parade from Dumbo - not quite the vibe I wanted to go for with an Africa themed cake! Instead I made him a little more sober with some tiny elephant eyes (as shown in the third photo).
Once the cake had cooled and the animals were setting, I iced the cake with a giraffe style pattern of fondant:
I then cut green fondant into small leaves to write 'Happy Birthday Emma' on top of the cake and used three shades of green to make leaves for around the edge:
Then all I had to do was secure the animals on top with a little water and the cake was finished!