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Neil Gaiman is a favorite author of mine. His latest book, The Graveyard Book, tells the story of a boy raised by dead people in a graveyard. The blog NeedCoffee.com issued a challenge to create a Graveyard Book inspired dessert. I decided to build part of the graveyard out of cake, because I watch too much Ace of Cakes.

The Egyptian Walk



The Egyptian Walk is a particular part of the graveyard, built in the Victorian era and now much ruined. The main character (Bod) goes there often, and in one chapter the ivy covering the walls blooms with little white flowers in the middle of winter. I chose to recreate that scene, which leads to the danse macabre, the Macabray, where the living of the town dance with the dead of the graveyard.

Down the path

The ivy is blooming

In this closeup, you can see the construction of the wall. The cake is Gold Cake, from the 1997 Joy of Cooking. I made a half recipe and used all of it to build the wall. It's mortared with Quick Butterscotch Frosting, from the same book. No frosting was used to cover the cake. Instead, I chose to let the yellowish shade of the cake represent sandstone, with a lovely crumbly texture, and the darker butterscotch the mortar. The doors are hardened slabs of Royal Icing (same book), colored with edible markers and affixed to the cake with fresh icing.
The ivy is more butterscotch frosting colored green. I was very pleased with the shade of green I got using brown, caramel-colored frosting. The flowers are made from white modeling chocolate. I arranged five little balls together and smooshed them flat. They're held on with green icing.

Winter flowers

This is a closeup on the most overgrown part of the wall.

Osiris and the Stone vault

Here you can see the statue of Osiris and one of the vaults. I chose to make the statue ruined, in part because the graveyard is crumbling and in part so I wouldn't have to make his hat. The statue is also modeling chocolate, painted with yellow food coloring and highlighted with yellow food-safe marker. This shot also shows the pathway, tiled in bananas with butterscotch grout. I used bananas because in chapter 1, Silas, the boy's guardian, brings him a banana as food. ("Silas ate only one thing, and it was not bananas.")

The statue of Osiris

Osiris in more detail. (All of these photos link to a FlickR set, where you can see them larger or smaller.)

Bast statue

This is Bast. This statue was one I added, and I'm fairly pleased with how it turned out. Not perfect, but it's definitely an Egyptian cat. Again, she's made of chocolate and decorated with food coloring and food-safe markers.

The Borrows vault

The advantage of making a ruined graveyard is that any cracks in the icing slabs become decorative. Here the ivy is taking over the Borrows vault.

Moss on the walkway

The pathway is quite treacherous, because not only is it made of slippery banana, it's covered in ivy and moss.

A few construction shots:

Just the wall

The wall, before the pathway was laid down and the statues installed.

The back side of the wall

The rear of the wall, showing again how faulty construction is just part of the design plan.

And Bast modeling in chocolate.
Bast models for the chocolate.


The cake was very tasty, although it had dried out a little bit by the time it came to eat. The butterscotch frosting was excellent, and the chocolate flowers were good too.
I had a lot of fun designing, baking, and assembling the cake. Maybe next time I'll tackle fondant!
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