Last month, one of my best friends, Sam, turned 30. In honor of the occasion, we threw him an Ork birthday party.
Along with some of our other friends, Sam enjoys playing Warhammer 40k, especially Orks. If I had to wager a guess, I’d say it’s more the attitude and less the gameplay that draws him to the green-skinned tide of destruction.
For those of you not in the know, Warhammer 40k is a tabletop game played with miniature models of the different troops and vehicles. You command your own army of miniatures, which you have lovingly assembled and painted, and march them across the table to victory or death. Some games involve an objective but most are just a fight to the death. Combat is determined by a roll of the dice and he who rolls well wins.
There are several different factions one can choose from when starting a Warhammer army. There are the Space Marines, the insect like Tyranids, and the Chaos Daemons summoned from the great beyond to name but a few. Sam plays Orks. Orks are the greenest, fightingest, drinkingest army there is. They believe that by painting a vehicle red, it will be able to move faster… and it works. They speak with an over the top Cockney accent and any victory truly seems to come by luck rather than by ruthless military strategy.
We had several small children in attendance, and for them I had made Grots Union t-shirts (Grots are little goblin-like creatures that the Orks use as slaves… and frequently ammunition). They were all members of Union Local 608, June 8th being Sam’s birthday.
Because checkerboard patterns are a part of the Ork decoration, I was able to use some racing party supplies to augment the banner and pennants that I had made from scratch. The centerpiece of my Orky theme, however, was the cake.
I’m not going to lie. I’m pretty proud of this one. I’m not a huge fan of fondant, at least not from a taste standpoint, but I do enjoy using it. There are some things that buttercream and royal icing just won’t do. This time I also used the new Wilton icing sheets. (I’ll do a whole separate post on that. Awesome new product!) By brushing the pieces of the icing sheet that I had cut out with metallic color dust, I was really able to get pieces that looked like metal. I found some fantastic candy rocks at a local shop. They’re actually very similar to M&Ms, just rock shaped. They looked great all piled together.
One of the most exciting moments of the party for me was when people had to ask if the rocks and metal bits were edible. That was when I knew I had done a good job.
For the interior, I decided to keep with the checkerboard theme using the Wilton Checkerboard Cake Pan Set. Instead of doing the traditional vanilla and chocolate checks, I opted to do the whole thing in vanilla, tinting half of the batter green. It was a pretty warm day when I baked, and the batter was a little runnier than I would have liked, so my checks were a little off kilter. Fortunately, it fit right in with the Ork theme.
All in all, it was a terrific party. I wish the weather had been better, both on the day of the party and while I was trying to decorate the cake. I have even more admiration for my mother who made my birthday cake every year in the middle of July without air conditioning. (Thanks, Mom.) There are plenty more nerdly birthday celebrations on the horizon, and I’m sure many of them will include more nerdly baked goods.