Archive for October, 2010

How to Make a Sugar Gonzo

Friday, October 15th, 2010

As promised, here is a post on making my Muppet & Sesame Street Toy Box Cake characters! For this cake I created 7 Muppet and Sesame Street characters from modelling paste by hand and made a chocolate cake toy box covered with fondant. I studied lots of photos on the internet of each Muppet and made them based on these so I don’t have any explicit written instructions. I will try to explain here how to make Gonzo.

My Muppet & Sesame Street toy box cake

My Muppet & Sesame Street toy box cake

There is no need to do the full bodies of the characters, you only need to make the heads, upper torsos and upper arms as these are the only parts visibly sticking out of the toy box. Below is a picture of the characters before they were put in the box so you can see what I mean.

My hand made sugar modelled Muppet & Sesame Street characters

My hand made sugar modelled Muppet & Sesame Street characters

To make the Muppet and Sesame Street characters, I used home made modelling sugar paste (aka gum paste). To do this is very easy, you will need fondant (aka sugarpaste) then just knead in some gum powder to add strength and cause the fondant to dry harder faster. The most commonly used gum powders are gum tragacanth and CMC tylose powder, I used Wilton Gum Tex powder for my characters. These are all readily available from specialty cake decorating supply shops. For coloured modelling paste, you can either buy coloured fondant or use edible paste colours such as AmeriColor or Sugar Flair to colour it with.

If you can get your hands on Squires Kitchen Sugar Dough, I highly recommend it. The consistency, large variety of colours, and ease of use are superb. Even if you just get white, you can colour it. I haven’t found anywhere to buy it cheaply here in Oz so I am making my own modelling paste.

Regardless of what modelling paste you use, make sure to keep it wrapped securely in a plastic bag at all times when it is not being used to stop it from drying out. Just take a small bit that you need to model with and leave the rest wrapped in the bag.

To create Gonzo’s head, colour some modelling paste a mid-blue for his head and body and a little bit of paste a paler more purpley blue for his nose. Roll an oval shape from the mid-blue and rough it up a bit for a fur texture using a small scalpel. Roll the paler paste into a fat sausage, flatten one end to make his mouth area and curve the other to make his nose. Use some sugar glue to stick this part to the bottom of the front of his head. Take a small scalpel and cut in a curved mouth on the flattened area. Below you can see the start of Gonzo’s head plus the finished Kermit and Rolf.

Finished Kermit and Rolf and the start of Gonzo's head

Finished Kermit and Rolf and the start of Gonzo's head

Roll some white modelling paste into 2 balls to make the eyes. Glue them on top of Gonzo’s nose. Roll some black modelling paste out very thinly and cut out 2 really small circles and carefully glue them onto the centre of the eyeballs. Gonzo’s eyelids consist of a blue lid on the bottom and a yellow lid on the top. Roll out some mid-blue paste and cut 2 thin strips. Glue them onto the top of his eyeballs, following the curve of the ball. Repeat with some yellow paste, sticking it on top of the mid-blue eyelid.

Adding Gonzo's eyelids

Adding Gonzo's eyelids

To create Gonzo’s body, take some mid-blue paste and roll it into a long sausage, then flatten the ends to create the torso. Give it some texture as you did for the head to create a fur effect. Cut through the sides to create arms. Roll out some yellow paste into a strip and use a circle cutter to cut a circle from the middle, then glue it onto the body with the circle on the top to make room for the head. This allows a bit of the blue fur of the torso to show above the top of the neckline of his shirt.

Gonzo's body

Gonzo's body

Apply some sugar glue to the top of the torso and stick Gonzo’s head on. If he isn’t staying put, you can take a short length of dry spaghetti and use it to secure the torso and head together by inserting it into the top of the torso with a bit sticking out the top, then sticking the head onto the torso with the top of the spaghetti passing through the bottom of the head. I found I didn’t need to use any spaghetti as the heads stuck on well on their own. Here is the finished Gonzo.

My finished Gonzo sugar model

My finished Gonzo sugar model

Here is a picture to help you get started on making Fozzie. You can see his torso in the background before it’s been roughed up to look furry. His hat is sitting on the board, as are his eyes and nose. His head is sitting in the foam flower former.

Creating Fozzie

Creating a sugar model of Fozzie

My First Cakes in Sydney!

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010
Some of the first cakes I've made in Sydney

Some of the first cakes I've made in Sydney

It’s been a while since my last blog post. I’ve been very busy making the big move to Australia and settling in. There was also the task of setting up the business, sourcing ingredients and equipment, getting used to my new oven, and also tweaking recipes to make them work with Australian ingredients!

One of the hardest things I’ve been struggling with is making my fondant (sugarpaste). Icing sugar in Australia is VERY different to the UK and my fondant has been coming out very sticky and weak. A lot of the equipment so readily accessible to me in London is not supplied here in Sydney such as 12 inch cake drums, Sugar Flower Paste, and Sugar Dough. I’ve had to use cake boards instead of drums and learn to make my own flower and modelling paste. But since arriving 2 months ago, I’ve managed to make some really fun cakes! Here are a few of my favourites.

Almost immediately upon arrival, I started work on a wedding cake which was a massive 9 tier cupcake tower consisting of 144 cupcakes in 3 different flavours plus a 6 inch top cake. Each cupcake had a handmade red sugar gerbera and the top cake had 3 large sugar gerberas. It was a LOT of work and I had red colouring paste staining my hands for quite a while, but the end result was worth it as the happy couple loved it!

9 tier red gerbera cupcake tow

9 tier red gerbera cupcake tow

A lot of my work in the UK involved classic cakes, but so far in Sydney there’s been more demand for novelty cakes which are a lot of fun to make. Here is one of them, a hand carved sugar BBQ cake with snags and burgers hand made from fondant. The “charcoal” marks were made with diluted edible black colouring paste painted on.

BBQ cake with sugar sausages & burgers

BBQ cake with sugar sausages & burgers

The next cake is a pretty simple cake, but it was my first real sugar modelling work with my homemade sugar modelling paste. Plus I had no idea what In the Night Garden was or who Makka Pakka was so it was quite a challenge! I used pictures from the internet and managed to create him, right down to the different coloured circles on the pads of his feet and a pile of his little stones also made from sugar. The little stack of rings on the top and sides of his head were quite tricky on such a small scale.

Hand crafted sugar Makka Pakka with sugar stones

Hand crafted sugar Makka Pakka with sugar stones

I absolutely love to do sugar modelling, so the last cake I want to share with you was such a delight for me to make. I hand crafted 7 characters from the Muppets and Sesame Street for a cake toy box. I studied quite a lot of pictures of each character on the internet and tried to get every detail (even Fozzie’s eyebrows – I never knew he had any!). The easiest was Elmo, the hardest was Animal. I don’t have my sugar gun with me, it’s in a box along with a load of my stuff being shipped by slow boat from London, so I used a garlic press to make Animal’s wild hair. Each character took around 1.5 hours each! The one that took the longest was actually Fozzie. Hand cutting out all the little pink circles for his scarf was quite time consuming, and getting his hat just right took quite a few tries. I might blog in more detail later about making these guys as this cake has proved extremely popular.

Hand crafted sugar Muppet & Sesame St toy box cake

Hand crafted sugar Muppet & Sesame St toy box cake