Friday, December 23, 2011

Kingdom Hearts 2 Keyblade Cake

When it comes to cake designs, I usually get a lot of notice before a birthday. In this case, Tristan gave me a week. One...week. I thought he would want Link or Mario or some other video game character, but he had been playing a lot of Kingdom Hearts 2 lately and decided he wanted a cake in the shape of the Keyblade (Mickey is holding it in the photo below). least it's better than his brother who wanted the actual Keyblade for his birthday ("But's only $500!").

Looking at the Keyblade (Mickey is holding), I knew I would need fondant - and lots of it. Maybe even some chocolate. I also knew I would need to make sure I had enough of my silver and gold Pearl Dust. I then thought maybe I should just forgo baking a cake and use Twinkies instead, lining them end to end...nah.

Thank heaven there weren't too many details - although did you notice the chain at the end with the Mickey silhouette? That's the first thing I noticed since I had to figure out how to make it :)

I started by sketching out the design. I folded a piece of paper into thirds and drew it out. It was easier for me to keep the scale right with the paper folded.

It really is a simple design if you're drawing it. I have to admit all the corners and crevices intimidated me.

The cake is cut out of a 13 x 9" cake. It looks like a big cake, but it really only uses about half of the actual cake. These instructions assume you already have your cake baked. So if you don't, go ahead. I'll wait :)

I used the whole top strip of cake shown in the picture above and part of the second strip. The bottom left corner piece was used to make the handle and the bottom center piece was used to make the blade. The rest of the cake can be put aside for you to munch on as you assemble the Keyblade Cake.

For the handle, the square cake piece needs to be rounded out on one side and the center cut out (creating a large "D" shape).

From the inner cut-out section of the handle, the center is cut out to be used. The side pieces can be discarded (eaten).

The pieces (except the blade) were then lined up on my "cake board".

The "cake board" was made from a sheet of wrapping paper covered in clear contact paper and sitting on a large airbake cookie sheet. I like this idea because it can be wiped clean after use, rolled up and stored for later use. (I also highly recommend the cookie sheet for keeping the bottoms of your cookies from burning!)

The inner handle was then removed (to make icing easier) and the rest of the cake was iced with vanilla using a large size 789 Wilton icing tip. This is a huge, wide icing tip that makes icing cakes SO much easier! I can pipe the icing on in huge strips and then smooth it out.

Then the icing was smoothed down. If you plan to use the marshmallow fondant like I did, you don't have to worry about getting the icing really smooth.

I covered the whole sword with marshmallow fondant (the whole project took half a recipe). Small round cylinders made of fondant were placed vertically at the tips of the handle before they were covered with fondant. This created the protruding edges. At the top center of the handle, an extra piece of fondant was placed beneath the top layer to jut out the top handle more.

I then iced and wrapped the inner handle (the piece that was previously removed for icing) with marshmallow fondant, cut it down to size and put the piece in place. Strips of fondant were added  to cover the ugly seams and more details were added (ridges in the handle).

The "blade" part of the keyblade was one of the more challenging parts of the cake. I decided to make it "just good enough". I apologize for not having many pictures of this part of the process.

I had originally carved the blade piece just as my sketch dictated. But I later removed the rounded tips and used fondant for those pieces because the cake would just crumble and fall apart with so small a detail.

With the carved piece of cake, I molded two round cylinders from fondant and placed them at two tips of the blade.  I then lightly iced the sides and edges and wrapped it in fondant. I chose to wrap the sides in fondant and then cut out a more detailed top piece of fondant to just place on top.

With the final touch of the keyblade in place, I started painting.

I tried making a shimmery gold/yellow paint from yellow food coloring, almond extract and gold pearl dust but in the final product, the gold shimmer just doesn't come through very much. The "silver color" was a mixture of silver pearl dust, almond extract and a smidgen of black food coloring gel. Once the silver areas were done, I made a stronger black to paint the inner handle.

For the top chain hook, I rolled marshmallow fondant into a rope and created a "corkscrew" to go into the end of the cake, attached a "clasp" to the corkscrew, and then attached the base of the "clasp" to a chain link.

For the Mickey Mouse head, I rolled out marshmallow fondant to about 1/4 inch thick, lightly pressed a 2" biscuit cutter into the fondant for the main part of the head and a smaller circle (I used a bottle cap from a sprinkles jar) for the ears. Just lightly press the circles into the fondant. Don't push all the way through. Then cut out the Mickey Mouse head.

Once I cut it out, I thought something was off. Then I realized that Mickey's ears were supposed to be full circles just barely attached to his head so I molded the fondant ears to make them more full circles. It looked less like a bear head then.

The hole in the top was created using a size 12 round decorating tip.

For the chain, marshmallow fondant was rolled into ropes and formed into the rectangular chain links. I went ahead and closed the links at this time even though they weren't linked together. All the chain pieces were painted yellow gold.

Once the paint had dried, I cut a hole into the end of the cake, inserted the corkscrew chain piece, cut one end of each chain link and began connecting the pieces ending with the Mickey Mouse head.

With the chain completed, the cake was finished!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Hubby's First Cake Decorating Attempt

Will decided he would make a decorated cake for my birthday. He has baked cakes for me before but never stepped into the realm of cake decorating. This was a first. This is truly an amateur cake!

I had recently picked up crocheting again and have also started to take in interest in knitting. In fact, with this new hobby, a corner of out living room has been overtaken by balls of yarn. He decided to make my cake in the shape of a skein of yarn.

He bought a jelly roll at the grocery store bakery and a couple cans of white icing. To one can of icing, he added some blue coloring gel and mixed it in with the electric mixer.

Then he trimmed the edges of the jelly roll to round them out a bit.

With a little bit of instruction, he filled a decorating bag with icing, attached a round tip, and went to town on the cake. He filled the 2 sides with the blue "yarn" icing and left the middle blank.

He used some of the white icing in the 2nd can to fill in the middle as the yarn "label". He left it to sit and dry some so he could smooth out the seams.

Once the white icing was "cleaned up" a bit, he added some additional blue "yarn" near the edges of the white. and then did his writing on the "label". He placed chopsticks on the plate and created some yarn coming of the skein to wrap around the chopstick "knitting needles".

I think he did a great job! He might even decide to do more cake decorating in the future!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kirby and His Star Car Cake

I was recently going through some family photos and came across two cakes from 2009 that I had not previously posted to the blog. The first was the Rockin Rubber Duck cake I made for my best friend's fiance. The second, later that same year, was a cake for my husband, Kirby and his Star Car.

The reason my husband got a Kirby cake is because my children love to play Kirby on their Game Cube with him. It's one of the things they do for "Quality Time" (don't worry, they have other quality time activities that don't involve video games). When it came time to make a birthday cake, the children decided their daddy needed a Kirby cake. So he got one. Kirby, in all his pink glory, on his star car...

It's been awhile since I made this cake so I've got to pull the instructions from the dusty corners of my mind before I can relay them to you. I will say that his eyes and mouth are made from rolled out marshmallow fondant and painted. The star car is made from an 8" round cake that has been carved into a star and the feet (dark pink) and arms (light pink) are made from the trimmed off pieces of the star. The icing is buttercream.

Rockin Rubber Duck Cake

When my son received his Electric Guitar Cake back in 2009, it became an instant hit with family and friends. My best friend's fiance, David, wanted one. But the guitar cake took so much time to make that I didn't have the time available to make another for his birthday the following month. In fact, time was so limited then that like the Kirby and His Star Car Cake, the Rockin Rubber Duck Cake that David requested instead was never posted to this blog. It's about time ol' "Rock" gets his big break!

The cake was modeled after one of the rubber ducks displayed beneath the cake stand. He is actually the one that looked the most like David (and David plays the electric guitar among other instruments).

The entire outside is marshmallow fondant. The duck's bill is all fondant - and let me tell you, that is WAY too much weight to have hanging off the side of the cake without adequate support! The sides of the duck bill started to droop and ol' "Rock" looked like he was frowning by the time we cut the cake!

As with the Kirby Cake, it's been awhile since I made this cake so I've got to pull the instructions from the dusty corners of my mind before I can relay them to you.

Friday, October 7, 2011

"Fade In" Movie Script Cake

Recently, Will asked me to make a cake for an event put on by the new screenwriting club at the college. The club's name is "Fade In" and he requested the cake look like a movie script. I had made a movie script cake for his birthday before and knew I wanted to improve on it if I ever made one again. Here was my chance.

  • The original cake was much too rounded to look like a stack of pages. I wanted this one to look more rectangular. That was an easy fix. I changed the pan I baked it in.
  • I also had problems with the icing drying too quickly before I could get it smoothed. That cake was made using buttercream icing. With this new one, I would use canned Pillsbury icing. Canned icing takes longer to dry out.
  • The black decorator gel on the original cake bugged me. The color tended to "run" on the snowy white icing. This time I would use black colored icing.
To begin, I prepared one box of Pillsbury Yellow cake mix. The only adjustment I made was to use the high altitude directions (I am in Colorado). I baked it in a 13x9 AirBake pan since it was the one 13x9 pan that had the least rounded corners.

Once the cake cooled for about 10 minutes, I turned it out onto a cooling rack to cool completely. I actually turn the cake out onto the rack and then flipped to make the rounded top face up.  I've found that the easiest way to flip cake is to sandwich it between 2 baking racks, hold the racks together and then flip quickly. 

Using a long length of dental floss (un-flavored), I leveled the top of the cake. My kids love to munch on cake crust (as do I) so I save those pieces for them whenever I can.
Trim the rounded top off the cake
I covered the base of my cake carrier with foil and flipped the cake onto it so the bottom of the cake was now facing up (It keeps you from having to deal with all those crumbs from the trimmed side).
The bottom of the cake is now facing up
At this point the cake can be completely covered in white icing. I used Pillsbury Classic White since the vanilla has an off-white color. The sides should be generously iced and the top should be smoothed out as much as possible.

I used an Icing Sculptor to make the sides look more like pages. I would not recommend an icing sculptor. I had nothing but problems with it. I would instead recommend using a much more inexpensive tool such as a decorating comb. You could also just wait for the icing to dry slightly and make grooves on the side with a knife or the side of your metal spatula.

I let the white icing dry a bit before moving on to the black text. Because this is canned icing, the area in which you live can make a big difference in drying time. When I was in North Carolina, the higher humidity would make icing take longer to form a crust. In the summer, the icing never would crust. But here in Colorado with the air so dry, the canned icing formed a sufficient crust within ten minutes.

Once a crust has formed, gently press in any irregular areas around the top edges. You can also VERY LIGHTLY brush your hand across the top of the cake in sweeping motions from edge to edge to smooth the surface of the cake. Be careful doing this. Too much pressure will damage the crust and you'll have to play the waiting game again while your crust re-forms before you can continue. If you live in an area where the crust just doesn't seem to form, smooth the top of the icing as best you can with a spatula or other long straight edged tool. I have yet to achieve a perfectly smoothed iced cake top. It bugs me, but then, I don't sell my cakes so I don't fret too much over it :)

For the text, use a toothpick to trace out where you want the letters to go (I should have done this with the smaller letters as well, but I didn't). This will help you keep the piped letters straight and even.

To create the black icing for the text, I started with Pillsbury Chocolate Fudge icing and added black color gel.. You can use whatever brand or flavor icing you want, but I start with some variation of chocolate icing to achieve a black color more quickly using less color gel.
Mix the icing thoroughly and place into your decorating bag. I chose to use a decorating bag with a coupler. I was going to make text in 2 sizes so by using the coupler, I could easily change out the icing tips from the larger round tip for the large text to the smaller round tip for the small text. If you don't have decorating bags or icing tips or couplers, you can always place the black icing in two Ziploc bags. Cut a small hole in the bottom corner of one bag and cut an even smaller hole in the bottom corner of the other bag. Instant piping bags!
Using a coupler with your icing tips lets you quickly and easily change out decorating tips so you can continue to use the same bag of icing.
For the gold brads, I cut a miniature marshmallow in half and pressed them into rounded discs. Using a dampened decorating brush, I painted on gold colored Pearl Dust.

The painted brads were placed along one side of the cake top (see the main cake image for placement).

All done! Display, slice, serve and enjoy!

Will took the cake to the club function the next day. Apparently, it was very well received. Most of the cake was gone when it came back home and I hear the brownies they had available (supplied by the school) were hardly touched. Maybe they just weren't a brownie crowd...I like to think it was a very tasty cake.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I'm making changes to the template and layout of the blog, adding larger images and filling in instructions on some of the cakes that are missing them so if you run into a strangely formatted post, know I'm working to fix it :) Thanks, and happy decorating!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Ferret Shaped Cake

Among other out-of-the-ordinary-for-a-girl-her-age things, Tia loves ferrets. I can't stress that enough. She LOVES ferrets and all things ferret related. It started with a trip to the pet store one day when she decided she wanted a rabbit (we were just going to look at them, not buy one) and I pointed out the ferrets. There were two in the cage - as cute as could be and romping and playing around. Tia instantly fell in love. But, since daddy is allergic, she knows she can't have one until she grows up. That was two years ago.

Now Tia has a small collection of ferret things - toys, stuffed animals, a puppet, drawings, calendars, magazines, and even a pet store catalog that usually has an entire 3-4 pages dedicated to ferret items (cages, toys, beds, food, etc). Her favorite is "Coco", her well loved and worn Webkins ferret. In fact, Tia is our resident expert on the care and feeding of ferrets. I was quite prepared when she requested a ferret shaped cake for her 8th birthday (she's already 8?).

I had an idea about how to go about making her cake but I wanted more concrete plans. A search online didn't help much and I wound up patterning her cake after one I found on Cake Central, though that one had airbrushing on it - something I was not going to get into.

If you're unfamiliar with my cakes, I just have to mention that I try to make things as easy as possible. I like made-from-scratch cakes as much as the next person, but I spend a lot of time on decorating the cakes so when it comes to a cake project, I simply use boxed cake mix and canned icing - something anyone can just pick up at the store. You could certainly make your cake and icing from scratch and go from there but the results you see in the pictures, unless otherwise noted, are from boxed cake mix and canned icing (usually Pillsbury brand).

I realized I could just carve out the cake and ice it with a Grass and Hair decorating tip (Wilton Tip 233).

To start, I baked an entire box of cake mix in a 10 inch round cake pan. I added 1/4 cup additional flour to the mix because a) the altitude in Colorado and b) to make a denser cake (easier to carve without falling apart). I baked it for the amount of time a 13 x 9 cake calls for. It certainly rose enough...

I used the additional height to my advantage. It would mean less carving and piecing together to make the rounded body of the ferret.

I carved out the body and tail in one piece, then the head and the legs and pieced them all together. The pieces don't have to be carved perfectly. The icing has a way of rounding everything out. The leg pieces are also there to just add "bulk" to those areas and define parts.

To ice the body, I didn't want to use just plain brown. A ferret's fur, like many animals, is a mixture of several shades. I knew I didn't want to do the airbrushing. I also only wanted a hint of color change - and something that was quick and easy to do (sometimes I can be a very lazy decorator).

I decided to mix a small amount of vanilla icing into the brown chocolate icing.

I didn't want to mix it too much because I wanted there to be a hint of color change. I just marbled the two icings together.

Then I filled my decorating bag (with Tip #233) with the icing. This may seem like a lot of trouble, but it did make a big difference (I think) in the outcome of the cake.

It helps to practice a little with the Grass & Hair tip before you actually start decorating. I found that if I place the tip close to the cake surface, add pressure to the bag to start the icing flow and pull out slowly while still applying pressure (releasing the pressure once you have the "fur" the length you want), the "fur" tends to look better.

I removed the additional cake "parts" (the head and legs) and started icing the ferret cake at the tip of the tail working my way up the body. As I iced, I directed the "fur" toward the tail and toward the base instead of straight up off the cake so the ferret would look like it had fur instead of spiky hair. As I got to the place where a leg should go, I iced the area on the body and then lightly pressed the cake part into the side. Then I iced over the leg. Once I got to the neck area, I used some icing to "glue" the head to the neck.

Tia wanted a sable ferret with a mask. I only have one Grass & Hair decorating tip (who knew having 2 of them would ever come in handy) so I completed all of the brown icing fur before moving on to the white on the face. For the ears, I used a bag with no tip - just the very end snipped off - and piped them on. Basically, the ears are 2 "C" shapes. Ferrets have small ears so there didn't seem to be a need to do much else with them. I didn't have anything else on hand, so I used chocolate chips for the eyes (placed into the icing with the flat side out) and a cinnamon candy for the nose. I would have preferred mini M&Ms for the eyes or even shiny black decorating gel but this is what I had. I also was NOT going to whip up pink icing just for the little nose, though I think it would have looked better. Still, the birthday girl who stood by me the whole time the cake was being made, was happy.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lego Mini-figure Cake

Tristan knew exactly what he wanted as his birthday cake this year. He has been so engrossed in Legos for the last three years and recently began creating Lego "videos" (stop motion photography) so it came as no surprise when he blurted out his wishes at the dinner table one night. "I want a Lego Mini figure cake! But I want the original face. No eyebrows."

"How odd," I thought, "for him to be specific about the eyebrows." But, that's Tristan. And a mini-figure cake he got! He even put together one for me with the eyes (no eyebrows), pants and shirt he wanted out of his Lego pieces. Lucky for me, he wanted a very basic "original looking" Lego man.

Tristan told me about this cake well in advance. I thought about it well in advance...then forgot about it for a couple of weeks. It's a hard could it be?

I scanned for cakes having anything to do with Lego. I found a black and white drawing of a mini-figure that I downloaded and enlarge to a 8x10 size. I would use it as a template to cut out the cake pieces so at least our Lego guy would be proportional.

A couple days before his birthday, I baked a 13x9 cake and cut out the pieces using my "template". I didn't mind that the template was only 8x10. The Lego minifigure isn't flat so I planned to use some cake "scraps" to give him bulk where he needed it - mainly his head and his toes. Besides, that's PLENTY of cake to eat. The less cake we had left over, the better.

I found out the morning before his birthday as I was putting it together and trying to ice it that I had not quite planned out the creation of this cake enough.

Will emailed asking how the cake was coming along. "The cake looks like crap," was all I said about it. Icing was glopping everywhere and would NOT make a nice edge. And since I had to cut the cake so much, there were crumbs EVERYWHERE! I had only gotten the legs iced when I KNEW this was not going to work. I had to resort to the marshmallow fondant and I had to do it in a hurry! I had bought 2 bags of marshmallows just in case this happened and luckily, Tia (the marshmallow disposal system) hadn't found them. I didn't mind doing the marshmallow fondant (and actually had a sneaking suspicion it would look a lot better with fondant) but I really hoped I could get it done quickly with icing.

I had just enough time to make the fondant and put it in the fridge to rest before I had to leave to get the kids from school.
That afternoon I set to work covering the cake with fondant. The arms were wrapped separately and set next to the rest of the cake. The hands were made from rectangles of fondant that were shaped around a bottle then secured with a toothpick to the arms. It wasn't long before the kids knew what a ghost mini-figure would look like (no color).
That evening, I started painting the cake. Tristan had asked for basic colors (blue, red and of course, Lego man yellow). I wasn't too worried at this point about how he would look. The cake was coming along beautifully. The only thing that worried me was the face. It had to look perfect. I decided to make it using scraps of fondant colored black.

The areas where the mini-figure's waist and neck were looked pretty rough (the seams where the pants and shirt met and the head and shirt met) so I created a belt (and buckle) for the waist and a scarf for the neck area.

I was pretty pleased with the final product - especially considering the mess I started out with. Tristan was thrilled with the results, and that's what really mattered the most.

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