Bakers make giant edible cake map of Edinburgh

Emma MacQueen with her ingredients and giant outline of the Balmoral. Picture: Scott Taylor
Emma MacQueen with her ingredients and giant outline of the Balmoral. Picture: Scott Taylor
Have your say

EDINBURGH has long been celebrated for its architectural wonders and picture-perfect landmarks – but what if they were good enough to eat?

A sweet-toothed army is working hard to bring the city’s most popular attractions to life in a sugar-coated 3D display.

A 6ft replica of the Royal Yacht Britannia, a mini Edinburgh Castle and Portobello Promenade will be among the 50 sites which will combine to form a giant edible map of the Capital at the Botanic Garden.

Crowds are invited to attend this Sunday’s event to admire the elaborate Cake Fest display on the lawn of Inverleith House – before getting the chance to try a slice.

More than 50 teams made up of volunteers, professional and amateur bakers, and community groups have spent weeks planning and designing their creations.

Emma MacQueen has taken on the feat of creating a cake Balmoral Hotel – complete with 620 windows made of icing and a mini Princes Street.

The 24-year-old, who runs her Story Cakes business from her home in West Montgomery Place, said she relished the challenge.

“I jumped at the chance,” she said. “I love the view from North Bridge. I have lost count of how many photos I’ve taken of it. I have measured how big the windows will be.

“The Balmoral were really nice about me coming in to take photographs.”

Ms MacQueen, who set up her business while studying speech and hearing sciences at Queen Margaret University, estimates that the cake will take about 28 hours to bake – and three days to decorate.

She said: “I’m more excited than nervous, it will be fun. I’m looking forward to seeing them all on Sunday. The actual cake is 65cm by 65cm, and there will be 20cm in front as well – of Princes Street, the buses and people.”

And for amateur baker Harriet Page, her Greyfriars Kirk cake has extra sentimental value – as she is getting married there next month.

Keen to make sure the cake is as accurate as possible, she will complete it with a sugar paste statue of Greyfriars Bobby.

Cake Fest, part of Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink, was the idea of Edinburgh-based food consultant Simon Preston.

He said: “The response has been huge and we signed up over 50 volunteer baking teams in no time. All the key landmarks, like the Balmoral Hotel and the National Monument, have been claimed but it’s also wonderful that Cake Fest brings lesser known buildings into the spotlight, like Lamb’s House in Leith.

“Each baker brings their own handwriting to their cakes and many add a dash of artistic licence and humour too.”

The free event, which starts at noon, will also feature a producers’ food market and live entertainment into the evening.

Baking teams will be asked to choose their favourite cake for the Bakers Choice Award, presented by Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop.

Flora Stevenson Primary, Pilton Community Health Project and The Yard adventure play centre are among the community groups getting involved.

The quirky event has received financial support from Edinburgh Tourism Action Group and GreenCity Wholefoods, while parts of the map will be created with sponsored ingredients from Tunnock’s and Walkers Shortbread.

Scott Erwin of GreenCity Wholefoods said: “The Cake Fest event is a brilliant way for organisations and individuals to work together and celebrate everything great about their city before tucking into their wonderful creations. We’re proud to support Cake Fest and in particular to assist community groups in taking part.”

The foodie festivities are part of the Botanics’ annual midsummer celebrations.

Elinor Gallant, public programmes manager at the venue, said: “We look forward to welcoming all the bakers and cake eaters to what promises to be a spectacular event.”


Fancy trying to make the Balmoral cake? Then here’s what you will need at the shops:

280 eggs

17.5kg butter

9.6kg plain flour

11.6kg self raising flour

39.3kg sugar

2.8 litres vegetable oil

8.8 litres milk

17.7kg cocoa powder

220g baking powder