Saturday, October 25, 2014

Skylanders Cake Tutorial

I made this little cake for my nephew, Garrett, who loves Skylanders.  Prior to making this cake, I knew absolutely nothing about Skylanders, but after doing some extensive research (I don't think people realize how much time "cakers" spend researching a topic prior to making a cake).  I decided that I wanted to make a cake based on the Skylanders Portal of Power.  The most difficult part was choosing which character to use as a topper, which determines the color of the portal.  After talking with an expert at Wal-Mart (a sweet, young boy who appeared to know everything about Skylanders and was more than willing to share his wealth of knowledge with me), I was convinced that Fizzy Frenzy Pop Fizz was the perfect character to use.  Oddly enough, he kind of reminds me of My Pet Monster.  Remember that show?  I digress...  For this cake, I used three six-inch layers of chocolate cake with peanut butter filling (a family favorite). 

While the cake was baking, I worked on the banner.  I found a picture of a logo online that had a name underneath the logo.  I was able to use PowerPoint to cover up the other name and then use Word Art to replace it with Garrett's name.  I also resized the image to be six inches wide.  To save everyone else the trouble, here is the logo with the name removed so that you can add a name of your choosing:

Since the character I chose was from Trap Team, the "Trap Team" subtitle was written in red/black, which is why I wrote Garrett's name in red/black.  I used the Arial Black font with all capital letters.  I printed it out on cardstock and taped two skewers to the back.

When the cake had cooled, I leveled it, filled each layer with peanut butter frosting, and then covered it with a thin layer of peanut butter frosting.  Then I marbled some gray fondant with a little bit of white and covered the whole cake.  I didn't roll the fondant quite as thin as I normally do, because I didn't want it to tear when I made the rocks.

Before putting the fondant onto the cake, I used my rock impression mat to make a general outline of the rocks, but it ended up getting a little bit stretched out when I added the fondant to the cake, so I used the back of a butter knife to add some definition to the outline of the rocks (If you don't have an impression mat, you could just use a butter knife to make the rocks).  I also used the butter knife to make little lines and indentations to give the rocks more character.

After I had finished outlining and adding definition to the rocks, I accented the lines that I had made with black luster dust.  I used a small, angled brush to add luster dust between all of the rocks.  The brush also helped me to round the edges of the rocks a little bit, and to expand the gaps between rocks.  Then I brushed luster dust onto random places on the rocks to give them some dimension.

Once the rocks were complete, I added a strip of marbled fondant (about 1 1/2 inches wide and 19 inches long) around the top edge of the cake, attaching it with piping gel.  I allowed the top portion of the strip to stick up over the top edge of the cake by about a half of an inch.

In the pictures of the portals that I saw online, this top edge appeared to be made up of rocks that were more linear and less circular (if that makes any sense), so I didn't bother to use my rock impression mat for the edge.  Instead, I just used the back of a butter knife to make lines and cracks, and then I brushed some black luster dust in the lines/cracks.  I don't know why I didn't end up taking any pictures during this process, but this is a close-up of the top edge in the end:

After I finished the top edge, I added the purple circle in the middle.  I actually marbled some purple and white fondant to try to give it a swirling vortex effect, but I over-mixed the fondant, so it didn't end up very swirly.  I rolled out the marbled fondant and placed my six-inch pan on top of it as a guide to cut the circle.  Then I placed the circle of fondant on top of the cake and pressed it outward with my fingers until it met the edge of the stone.  Again, I didn't take pictures during this step, but this is what it looked like later on... Not very marbled. :-(

After I attached the circle, I added eight vertical strips around the cake.  Again, I marbled some gray and white fondant, rolled it out, and then cut eight strips that were one inch wide.  I use my impression mat to add a rocky texture, and then I attached each strip with some piping gel, curving the top of each strip up over the top edge.  Then I used a butter knife and some black luster dust to accentuate the rocky texture.

Next, I made the symbols that went around the top edge of the cake.  Believe it or not, I had a really difficult time finding the exact symbols.  I ended up using three different pictures and I was able to make out four different symbols, so I repeated each symbol.  I wasn't too picky about this part because I didn't think that anyone would look at it very closely.  As a matter of fact, I probably could have just invented my own symbols and no one would have noticed. :-)

I used my clay extruder to add a border around the bottom edge.  After looking at countless pictures online, I still couldn't figure out whether the border is supposed to match the color of the the portal, or if it is always supposed to be neon green.  I decided to go with purple, since it matched better.  I attached it with piping gel, and I used my butter knife to press the border into the crevices.

Lastly, I added Fizzy and the banner.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Little Dinosaur Cake Tutorial

I made this little dinosaur smash cake for a former colleague's grandson.  I saw tons of pictures of dinosaur cakes online, but I was looking for something small, cute, and simple.  I stumbled upon this cute little green dino, and it was exactly what I was looking for:

Click here to view the source of this image.

Unfortunately, there was no tutorial available.  The good news is that it looked pretty simple. :-)  

To make the cake, I used one vanilla cake mix.  I poured half into the Wilton Sports Ball Pan and half into a six-inch round pan.  While the cake was baking, I prepared the cake board.

I chose to decorate this cake directly on the cake board, so it needed to be cleanable, which is why I chose the contact paper method to cover the cake board.  I covered the board with a piece of green scrapbook paper, wrapped the edge with yellow electrician's tape, and then covered the board with clear contact paper.

When the cake had finished baking, I leveled, filled, and stacked the layers and then I covered the cake with a coating of vanilla frosting.  I covered the cake with blue fondant, trimmed the excess fondant, and then cleaned up the cake board.

Next, I made each leg (four total) by creating fat L-shaped pieces of fondant, and making creases with the back of a knife.  I used a small frosting tip to make the circular toe impressions.  Then I attached the legs to the body with piping gel.

After I attached the legs, I made the head.  I did this by rolling a piece of fondant into an egg shape in my hands.  I used the ball tool to make indentations for the eyes and a toothpick to make the nostrils and the center of the mouth.  Then I used a knife to cut a curved mouth and V-shaped creases near the eyes.  I used two small pieces of fondant to make eyebrows and I used two little balls of black fondant for the eyes, which I brushed with piping gel to add a shiny finish.  Once I decided on the position of the head, I added a little wedge of fondant in the gap between the head and the body.

The next piece I added was the tail.  It was pretty simple to make, as I'm sure you can tell.  I rolled a piece of fondant in my hands to make the basic shape, and then I cut the base of the tail at an angle so that it would sit flush against the body.  Typically I would use a wooden skewer to help secure the tail, but I didn't want any hard parts in this cake (since it was going to be a one-year-old's smash cake), so I just used piping gel and held the tail in place for about 30 seconds until it seemed secure.

I used orange fondant mixed with tylose powder for the spikes.  I rolled out a fairly thick strip of fondant and cut it into various-sized triangles.  I allowed them to dry for about 30 minutes before attaching them to the cake.  I attached the spikes with piping gel, putting the largest triangles on the middle of the dinosaur's back, working from largest to smallest down the back and tail, and then from the middle of the back to the head, with the smallest triangles on the head and the tip of the tail.  And that's it!  A super simple, cute little dino smash cake with no hard parts that could hurt little hands. :-)

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Elsa Doll Cake Tutorial

I made this Elsa doll cake for my niece who absolutely loves Frozen.  I was looking to replicate the scene where she sings "Let it Go" so I knew that the traditional doll cake wasn't going to work, which is why I decided to try this peeking-leg-style cake.  I found that it was a pretty forgiving design, since the fondant is layered.

A couple of days prior to making the cake, I made the top part of Elsa's dress so that it would have time to harden before I had to handle it.  I started by taping her legs in the position that I wanted them (one foot in front of the other) so that she wouldn't move while the top part of the dress was drying.  To make the top part of her dress, I rolled out some dark teal fondant and cut one side with a pizza cutter so that it had a straight edge.  One thing that isn't really noticeable in the final pictures of this cake is that there are actually two different shades of teal in this dress - dark teal for the top/middle, and light teal for the middle/bottom.  

Then I brushed the top half of her body with a little bit of water and wrapped the fondant around her with the straight edge up and the uneven edge down.  I used a sharp knife to cut away the excess in the back where it overlapped, and then I cut the uneven edge off of the bottom.  I used my thumb to smooth out the seam as best as I could.  Then I cut a small, rounded "V" in the front of her dress on her chest.  The good news is that she has arms so she was able hold herself up while the top of her dress dried. :-)


I used my clay extruder to make a thin strip of light teal fondant to go around the top edge of the dress and attached it with a little bit of water.

Lastly, I brushed on a little bit of luster dust (my favorite!) and I left her to dry on the counter for a couple of days.

The other piece that I made in advance was the cake board.  I decided that I wanted to decorate this cake directly on the cake board, which would have been difficult if I had used a fondant-covered cake board.  So instead of covering my cake board with fondant, I stacked three white 12-inch cardboard cake circles and covered them with a layer of sheer, sparkly teal fabric.  Then I glued ribbon around the edge and covered the whole board with clear contact paper.  This made the board really easy to clean.  (It also worked out really well in the end because my niece asked if she could keep it to use it as a dance floor for her dolls.)  :-)

To make the cake, I used the Wilton Doll Pan and an eight-inch round pan.  When the layers were cool, I leveled them, filled them with frosting, and stacked them.  I ended up cutting the doll pan layer in half (horizontally) so that I could add an extra layer of frosting.  Then I cut a notch in the front of the cake where the doll would later stand.  I didn't take measurements to see how tall the cake was, but it came up to the middle of the doll's thigh.

Next, I smoothed out the sharp angles (from where I had just removed the chunk of cake) with a serrated knife.  I used most of the parts that I had cut to fill in the back of the dress.  I attached these scrap pieces to the cake with chocolate frosting.  Here are side and top view photos of the cake at this point (along with a huge mess of cake scraps!).

Once I finished attaching the scrap pieces, I covered the cake with a crumb coating of vanilla frosting and covered it with light teal fondant.  Then I cleaned up the cake board... The great thing about using cake boards that are covered with contact paper is that they are super easy to clean!

Next, I attached the doll to the cake.  To do this, I wrapped a wire around one of her legs and twisted it together in the back, leaving about three inches of wire protruding from the back.  Then I wrapped the wire with white electrical tape and pushed it downward into the cake so that her leg was in the notch that I had cut into the cake.  I used a strip of fondant (brushed with piping gel) to hold her back foot in place and I adjusted her legs to be in the position that I wanted them (unfortunately this doll came with non-bendable knees).  Adjusting her legs caused some of the top part of her dress to break off where her legs met her torso (as you can see in the picture below) but I ended up covering this part later, so it really didn't matter.

I also added a clump of fondant onto the back of the cake so that the dress would have a more gradual flow.

And now, the fun part!  The remainder of the cake is all about layering strips of fondant.  It's my favorite part because it is what gives the illusion of movement (a very important component to capture this dramatic scene of the movie) AND there is lots of room for error.  I didn't measure any of the strips of fondant that I used for this.  Instead, I just rolled out each strip, pleated it, attached it to the cake with piping gel, and then trimmed the bottom to my desired length.  I started by attaching a strip behind the knee of the front leg, bringing it out from behind her leg and then pulling it toward the back of the cake (so that it looks like the wind is blowing her dress back as she walks).  Then I added a diagonal strip starting from her left hip (our right), covering most of her front leg and all of her back leg/foot, and then sweeping back.  It's difficult to describe, but it's pretty simple.  Hopefully the picture will make sense:

This part ended up cracking when I was moving the cake, so I had to try to add in another piece later on. :-(

Once I put these initial pieces on the front, I started working on the back and the sides of the dress.  For each of these pieces, I rolled out a strip of fondant (again, no measurement needed) and curved the sides with my fingers to give it a rippled effect.  Then I pinched the top edge and attached it to the piece of fondant just below Elsa's waist (This part got covered later, so it didn't need to look perfect).  For a couple of the strips, I made a little bit of a crease down the center, just so that they wouldn't all look exactly the same.  Once I attached all the strips to the side and back of the dress, I used a pizza cutter to cut and round the ends of the strips.

This is the only picture that I took during this stage.  I added the middle piece to the back first, then the sides, and then filled in the rest.  You can see where I initially added some white ruffles, which I later decided to remove and replace with another strip of teal. 

To finish off her dress, I added three shorter dark teal strip around her waist (this helped to cover up the spot where I attached the strips to the back/sides of the dress).  The first strip started at her right hip (our left) and wrapped around to below her left hip.  The second strip started at her left hip and wrapped around to the back.  The last strip started in the back and wrapped around to the front/center (this is another situation where it might just be easier to look at the picture).  To finish the cake, I added a few fondant snowflakes, and covered the entire cake with luster dust.  I also used a small triangle of dark teal fondant to cover the top of her exposed foot.

Let it go!

*It was recently brought to my attention that there is an original creator of the walking doll cake.  It was not my intention to copy any particular cake that I saw online; I was trying to replicate a particular scene from Frozen. If you are interested in purchasing a detailed, professional tutorial for walking doll cakes, please visit the Ipoh Bakery website.  Their cakes are amazing!  Here are some photos of their walking doll cakes:

Ipoh Bakery's Walking Doll Cakes