Life-Size Katniss Sponge is Icing on the Cake…
Last year, Lara Clarke from the West Midlands made headlines around the world with her entry in the Cake International bakers’ competition in Birmingham. Swaying rather far from traditional cakes, Lara’s “almost life-sized” cake of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean certainly gave spectators something to talk about..
“The judges are probably more used to seeing three-tier wedding cakes than giant Jack Sparrows,” Lara said at the time. And she wasn’t far wrong – the judges certainly were surprised at her entry.
Lara had only been baking for two years previously, with her first attempt at a decorated cake – outside of home economics, that is – being for her mother-in-law’s silver wedding anniversary. “I thought [the cake] was rubbish,” she said, “but everyone else seemed to like it.”
Since then, Lara has expanded her cake-baking repertoire to include a variety of novelty cakes, such as a motorbike and the Grinch (standing at 4ft/1.2m tall). She has also created a cake replica of her mother-in-law, though nothing on the same scale as Captain Jack.
While her regular job saw her working for a bingo website, Lara said that she learnt her skills from watching tutorial videos on YouTube (which is how pretty much everybody learns pretty much everything nowadays).
One evening, whilst watching Pirates of the Caribbean and on the phone to her friend, it was suggested to Lara that she should enter the Cake International competition. Glancing at the screen, she saw Johnny Depp as Captain Jack and thought he would be the perfect model for a cake because of all the different fabrics he wears could translate well into different textures.
Overall, it took her 90 hours over three months to make the 5ft 5in (1.65m) tall cake out of crisped rice and marshmallows. Detail was added with both royal and fondant icing as well as edible paint. However, because of what the cake was made from, it didn’t need baking and some people suggested that it didn’t pass for a cake.
Regardless, because the cake was so big, Lara had to hire a minibus to transport it to the competition, where cake fans and judges marvelled at the almost life-sized creation.
This year, Lara decided to go bigger, this time creating two entries for the competition. One was based on Tyrion Lannister, her favourite Game of Thrones character, and the other was a life-size model of Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. And to ensure that Katniss was indeed precisely to scale, Lara even researched Jennifer Lawrence’s measurements online.
Being a huge fan of both made the task even more a sweet treat for Lara. And to hush the potential nay-sayers, both Katniss and Tyrion are sponge cakes. A total of 10kg/22lbs of flour, 10kg/22lbs of butter, an astonishing 150 eggs, and two-and-half months were used to create alternating chocolate and vanilla sponge layers, which were then crafted around frames.
Both cakes were entered into the Decorative Exhibit category of the competition. Tyrion Lannister won Lara one of the silver ribbons, while Katniss achieved a coveted gold.
For Lara, it is too soon to think about what her entry might be for next year, but there is no doubt that cake enthusiasts around the world will be waiting with bated breath and sweet tooth.