Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sleeping Santa Cake

I saw a super cute sleeping Santa cake on Cake Central, so I really wanted to make something similar.  Luckily, my Secret Santa was a chocolate lover, so I used her as an excuse to make this cake (Thanks, Meg!).  It was very quick and simple to make, so it would make a great last-minute Christmas gift for anyone who loves cake!

To start, I baked two eight-inch square cake layers (I ended up cutting one side of the cake so that the finished product was 8x6 inches).  While the cake was baking, I made all of the "cake parts,"  with the exception of the blanket.  I made the headboard/footboard first so that it would have time to harden before adhering it to the cake.

To create the headboard, I googled "headboard outline" and found an outline that I liked:

I adjusted the width of the picture to six inches and then printed it onto a piece of cardstock.  Then I mixed some Tylose powder (Gum-Tex) into some white fondant and added a little bit of brown food coloring, kneading it until the brown was mostly incorporated but still slightly swirly.  Then I rolled out the fondant, laid the template over it, and cut it out (I ended up cutting off the pointed parts of the headboard).  I left the bottom longer than the template because I wasn't sure how tall my cake would end up being.  I ended up using the leftover bottom portion of the headboard as the footboard later on.

Next, I pressed my wood grain impression mat onto the headboard (although this design could also be achieved with a knife), and then I used my mini star cookie cutter to cut star shapes into the headboard.  Then I used my clay extruder to create a border for the headboard and attached it with piping gel.

I set the headboard aside and began working on Santa and his pillow.  For the pillow, I used Leaf Green food coloring with a tiny bit of black to achieve the color.  I rolled the fondant out so that it was about a half of an inch thick, and then I shaped it a little bit with my fingers, pinching the corners and softening the edges.  I also made an indentation where Santa's head was going to rest.

Next, I made Santa's skin by adding a little bit of pink food coloring to my white fondant.  To make his head, I rolled out a ball of fondant and pressed it down so that the top was rounded, but the back was mostly flat.  Then I cut off the top portion of his head so that the top was flat.  Next, I used a little bit of red fondant, rolled it into a cone shape, and pressed it down on top of his head.  I bent the "tail" of his hat and used a knife to create crease marks in the bend of his hat.

I molded some white fondant around the bottom and sides of his head to make his beard.  Then I used a small ball tool to create texture by making small indentations all over his beard (I actually ended up adding more fondant to his beard in the end to make it fuller).  Once his beard was in place, I added a couple of small elongated triangles for his moustache, attaching them in the center of his face, and then I used the back of my knife to create lines in his moustache.  Then I pressed a ball of pink-tinted fondant onto the center of the moustache for his nose.  In the gap between his moustache and his beard, I added a tiny strip of fondant for Santa's bottom lip. Then I pressed a frosting tip into his skin to make indentations for his closed eyelids.  I used an edible black marker to draw his eyelashes, and I brushed a little bit of pink luster dust onto his cheeks and nose.

I finished his face and hat by adding a little ball of white fondant to the tip of his hat and a strip of fondant to the brim.  I used a toothbrush (clean and unused, I promise!) to create the texture on the brim and the ball of his hat.

Like I mentioned before, I ended up adding more fondant to Santa's beard in the end to make it fuller.  This is what it looked like after:

To make Santa's hands, I rolled two small balls of fondant and flattened them slightly.  Then I made four cuts, creating his fingers, and I smoothed the edges of his fingers.  For his feet, I created two jelly bean-shaped pieces of fondant, flattened them slightly, and made an indentation on each foot with my finger to create an arch.  Then I added five tiny balls of fondant to each foot for his toes.

For the stocking, I created another jelly-bean shaped piece of fondant and flattened it slightly on the back.  Then I cut the top so that it was flat, and added a ring of white fondant.

By this time, the cake had finished baking and cooling, so I leveled it, trimmed one side so that it was six inches wide and eight inches long (instead of 8"x8").  Then I filled it, frosted it, and covered it with white fondant.  I placed the pillow and Santa's head on the cake and began working on his body. I didn't attach his head and the pillow to the cake at that time, because I knew that I would need to remove it later on.

To make Santa's body, I rolled out a thick cylinder of fondant, cut the bottom section in half lengthwise to create his legs, and used my fingers to shape his legs and belly.  This part didn't need to be perfect or precise because I knew that it would be covered by the blanket.  In hindsight, I should have made his belly a little bit bigger... Santa does love cookies, after all. :-)

The last piece I made was the blanket.  I rolled out a piece of red fondant 8 inches wide by 6 inches long (the opposite dimensions of the bed).  I used my quilting tool to create the quilted effect, but a knife or a pizza cutter would work well for this, too.  Then I covered Santa with the blanket (just down to his ankles) and used my fingers to make ripples in the sides of the blanket that were draped over the edges of the bed.  Next, I took the pillow and head off of the bed so that I could add a strip of white fondant over the top of the blanket, creating ruffles with my fingers, and then I attached the pillow/head, hands, and feet to the cake.  I also added some sugar pearls to the blanket.

The last pieces I added were the headboard and footboard.  I attached the stocking to the footboard with a little bit of piping gel and that was it!

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Teapot Cake Tutorial

I made this teapot cake for a former student of mine, for her foster niece's third birthday.  She showed me a picture of a cake that she liked and asked me to make a similar cake with a bigger bottom tier, different flowers, and purple instead of pink (this particular color scheme was inspired by Sophia the First).

This was the photo that I used as my inspiration.  I tried to track down the original source, but all I could find was the image.
I started by baking the ball-shaped cake.  While the cake was in the oven, I prepared the cake board by gluing three cardboard cake circles together and adding purple ribbon around the edge.  Then I took a handful of the purple fondant and mixed it with tylose powder (to help it harden) so that I could make the handle, spout, and roses.  To make the spout and the handle, I rolled the fondant in my hands and manipulated it until I achieved the design that I liked.  Fortunately, I had a styrofoam ball, that was the same diameter as my cake pan, that I was able to use to check the sizing of the spout and handle.  It also helped me form the edges of the spout and handle so that they would fit snugly onto the round cake.  Since the spout seemed heavy, I decided to add a skewer to give it more support when I attached it to the cake.

To make each ribbon rose, I rolled out a thin strip of fondant (about two inches wide and ten inches long), folded it in half lengthwise so that there was no "raw edge" and then rolled it up, pinching it in places to make pleats.  (For a detailed tutorial on how to make ribbon roses, visit  Her explanation is perfect!)

The other piece that I made while the cake was baking was the lid of the teapot.  I could have easily applied this directly to the cake, but I had time to waste while the cake was baking, so I decided to make it in advance.  For this, I just rolled a ball of fondant in my hands and then pressed it down onto the styrofoam ball, smoothing the edges down until it had the shape that I was looking for.

When the two ball-halves were cool enough, I cut off the bottom edge of one of the semispheres (so that there was about a three-inch flat spot on the bottom of the sphere), stuck it to a round piece of cardboard, piped a dam of frosting on top, and then filled it with vanilla frosting.  Then I placed the other half on top and placed the lid on top of that.  I covered the whole ball with a thin layer of frosting.

To make the lighter purple that I used as the primary color for the teapot and the table, I mixed some of the purple fondant with white fondant (1:1).  (I have used purple food coloring with white fondant to achieve this color before, but in my experience, fondant that I have tinted purple tends to fade to gray rather quickly.)  Once the fondant was the lavender color that I desired, I rolled it out and covered the teapot and lid.  Then I stuck a dowel down through the whole thing (lid, teapot, and cardboard).  This made it easier to transport later.  I also used my clay extruder to add a rim of dark purple fondant around the base of the lid.  Then I set the teapot aside and worked on the bottom (table) tier.

To make the table, I leveled, filled, and stacked three 10-inch round layers (about four inches tall).  Then I covered the cake with a thin layer of vanilla frosting.  I rolled out the remainder of the lavender-colored fondant and applied it to the cake.  To make the tablecloth, I rolled some white fondant onto a 14-inch cardboard cake circle, trimmed away the excess, and went around the edge with a cookie cutter (I had actually cut the cookie cutter in half to get the shape that I wanted).  If I had thought of it at the time, I might have used a frosting tip to make little holes around the edge to make it look like a lace tablecloth.  An impression mat could have given it some character, too.

The cardboard circle made it easy for me to transfer the tablecloth onto the cake.  All I had to do was flip it over, onto the cake.  Then I adjusted it to make sure that it was centered.  To give the tablecloth some dimension, I pulled the longer sections away from the cake with my finger.

Once the tablecloth was in place, I set the teapot on top and pushed the wooden dowel all the way down through the whole cake.  Then I cut off the top of the dowel and stuck one of my ribbon roses on top of the lid, over the dowel.  I used piping gel to attach the handle and spout, which were firm but pliable at that point.  I added a flat strip of dark purple fondant around the base of the teapot, and then I put a cylindrical strip (matching the strip around the lid) just above the flat strip to make it look like it was sitting on a base or saucer.

Next, I used a silicone mold to make the border around the base of the cake.  I added a cylindrical strip in front of it with my clay extruder.

I used some basic flower cutters to add some small flowers to the cake, dusting them with purple petal dust in the center.  I used a leaf cutter to make the leaves, and I folded/pinched them at the base to make them smaller and to give them more dimension.  I also added a few pearls to the centers of the flowers and around the edge of the cake... Who doesn't love pearls?

The cake still seemed a little bit bare, so I decided to add some thin vines with my clay extruder.  (Have I ever mentioned how much I love my clay extruder?)

Last, but not least, I added the name.  For this, I used the Tappits Funky Alphabet letter cutters. (I absolutely love this font; it's perfect for a girly cake!) Initially, I hated how the Tappits worked.  My fondant kept getting stuck no matter how thin/thick I rolled it.  Then I did a little bit of research and discovered the secret: Roll your fondant very thin, then cover your fondant with a layer of plastic wrap.  When you press down onto the plastic wrap with your cutter, it will push through the fondant, but won't cut the plastic.  It leaves a nice, soft, clean edge on the letters and they don't stick to the cutters.  Then you just peel away the excess, allow the letters to harden for a few minutes, and then arrange them on your cake. When you're happy with the position of the letters, secure them with a dab of piping gel or water.  (I wish I had read that advice before using my Tappits for the first time.)  

Tea Time!

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. :-)