Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Westerfolds Wednesdays: the parkrun baking contest

Westerfolds parkrun turned one on the weekend, and we celebrated by having a pyjama party! I was run directing on the day, so I've already written a run report for it (clicky clicky). I like putting formatting into the run reports (this was only my second time run directing, and thus my second run report), and while the formatting is better on this report, it's still not quite right.

Last time I drafted in Blogger and sent the html of the report to our Event Director for uploading to the Westerfolds parkrun website, and later realised it was hosted by Wordpress. This time around I drafted in Wordpress (there are subtle differences with tables and the captions on photos), but there were still a few issues - mainly the width of the photos. Well, third time lucky, right?

In lieu of a proper post about my Saturday (I spent parkrun making sure it ran smoothly, and there were no problems, so it was uneventful), I'll share parkrun eve - when we put together the Westerfolds parkrun birthday cake! We had some wonderful feedback on the cake, so it's great to see that our enthusiasm for parkrun cake is shared across the wider parkrun community.
"And Westerfolds parkrun… well, what can I say about their cake other than AMAZING!"
That's the kudos we received in parkrun Australia news today, but we also received plenty of love from those on the Westerfolds parkrun Facebook page, and also from "The Prof" who shared it on the parkrun show AU's Facebook page. So I thought it might be nice to see how relatively simple it was, and assist to bring on the epic parkrun cakes!

The finished birthday cake at Westerfolds Park on the weekend.
A "cake as a topographic model of the course" was the nutty idea I had for the birthday cake, but wasn't really sure how to put it together. I discovered Leesa was a keen amateur cake decorator with a bit of experience using fondant - which I had never used, and didn't want to use on a big project where I wouldn't know exactly how to work with the fondant!

Last week I gave Leesa the "blueprints" to the cake - stencils of simplified contours from a topographic map of Westerfolds Park. She did the cake baking on Thursday, and on Friday we shaped the layers and decorated the cake under her supervision!

The base layer (where the lowest point was going to be the Yarra), and the first layer of the park.
Second layers of the park on the cake (divided by Kestrel Creek) while Mrs Event Director Iwona mixes in the colour for our Kestrel Creek and Yarra River and I start cutting out the hill.
There was meant to be another layer on the hill, but it looked like there was enough hill already! If you're wondering, the cake is to scale horizontally, but not quite right vertically (as we just used whatever height each cake slab ended up being after baking), and so there there is an inconsistency in the scale between horizontal and vertical planes. It's also not geomorphically correct - but it's a cake designed by an environmental engineer and not an environmental engineering model.

Green fondant for most of the park! It was horrible to work with on Friday as it hit 34℃ that day - but we still managed! 

Then we added the blue fondant for the Yarra River and Kestrel Creek.

The tarmac we used for the Westerfolds parkrun course, one of the two bridges, and a simplified Manor House at the top of the hill.

Some miniature parkrun flags and kilometre signage.

Then a few fondant trees here and there that Leesa had prepared earlier.

And finished off with a little bit of parkrun branded edging! Saved how the cake looked as the weather really made it difficult to smooth the edges and side of the cake.
So that was how the Westerfolds parkrun birthday cake was made! My hands are still sore from warming up and rolling the fondant as we had to keep it in the fridge because of the heat, so it was really solid each time we started to handle it again. Don't let that put you off from working with fondant - it's just that I damaged my hands/arms doing labwork early last year. I couldn't even ride my bike for most of 2013 as I was unable to hold onto the handlebars for too long without cramping!

We've set a standard for our birthday cakes now, but at least we now have a whole year to plan for the next one. Any ideas?


  1. That is an absolutely amazing cake - well done! I didn't manage to make it to Westerfolds for your 1st birthday - still have calf niggles which I knew wouldn't be helped by the hill but I'm hoping to make it over once I'm healed :)

    1. Thanks Gillian! We were amazed at its popularity - we never had a run report generate so much Facebook traffic that it competed with the Facebook reach from photos, but put a picture of this cake on the run report and BAM! Facebook Engagement!

      There are a lot of fun runs coming up this month so I'll be cruising around Westerfolds in the short-term (with the super-slow dog if the weather's pleasant - she's a bit precious), but once they're done then I can catch up on my parkrun tourism!

  2. Hi what an amazing cake. 😊 Can I ask where you got the miniature flags from please?

    1. Hi Alex - I created the miniature flags from the official parkrun templates, but printed at a very tiny scale and stuck onto toothpicks.