Posts Tagged ‘modelling fondant’

Hippo in a Hot Tub Birthday Cake

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

It’s been a while since I made a cake, having taken 3 months off due to my own wedding :). But now I’m back in the game, and my first cake this year was a great one to start off with – the Hippo in a Hot Tub birthday cake.

Hippo in a Hot Tub birthday cake

Hippo in a Hot Tub birthday cake

The client for this cake is actually the same person who placed the first ever order for Delicious Cake Design. She ordered a birthday cake back then, and this year she ordered another. She was very trusting and left the design of this year’s cake up to me, which was very kind of her as it meant I could try out some new ideas I’d been thinking about and also have a go at some new techniques. I really enjoy sugar modelling and had received a lovely book from my new in-laws about character cakes. I just fell in love with a cute hippo in the book and was dying to try it out myself. So this was the perfect opportunity!

Modelling the hippo out of sugarpaste turned out to be a little tougher than I thought. After an hour, I had attempted the hippo’s head four times and each attempt ended up looking like a lumpy gorilla made from Play Doh by a kindergartener. I was following the instructions exactly but it looked nothing like the adorable hippo in the book. My fantastic new husband saw my frustration and came over to give me some words of encouragement. He also gave me a very good suggestion. Instead of following the written instructions, which clearly was getting me nowhere, why not just copy what I could see in the pictures of the hippo parts? I followed his advice and voila, a perfectly adequate hippo.

I adored the detail that this hippo had – curly black eyelashes, grey eyelids, rosy pink cheeks, a blue towel turban, pink pads on the soles of the feet. I threw in a few extras as well to complete the picture – little bottles and jars sitting on the edge of the tub, a blue towel hanging off the side, and a back scrubbing brush, all handmade from modelling fondant. I also sprayed the “tub” with pearl lustre spray to give it a shiny, enamel like finish and to help distinguish it from the white fondant bubbles in the tub. I’d bought the lustre spray on a whim and not for a purpose, so it was another item I’d been uber keen to try out. I have to say, it worked quite well and I didn’t end up with a streaky finish at all. Much easier than using lustre powder dust.

Close up of the hippo in the hot tub cake

Close up of the hippo in a hot tub cake

It felt so good to be baking again, and to be designing and decorating a cake. I’d missed colouring sugarpaste, covering a cake with buttercream and fondant, moulding shapes from sugarpaste using just my hands, putting together all the pieces of decoration on the cake, and most of all, seeing the finished product and the delighted look on the client’s face. It’s good to be back.

My Panda on a World Globe Cake

Sunday, July 19th, 2009
Panda with suitcases on a world globe cake

Panda with suitcases on a world globe cake

So here is the panda cake I said I would be making in my last blog – it was thankfully a success! Despite the fact I said I was intending to do a “normal” cake with modelled sugar pandas on top, as you can see the shape of the cake is not really typical!

This is because in discussions with the clients about design ideas for a panda cake, I mentioned an idea I’d had to do a cake shaped like half a world globe with a panda holding some suitcases sitting on top. I’d thought of this as the cake was being made as a surprise for their colleague who was leaving on an overseas adventure and a year teaching in Japan. I was just throwing around some ideas and didn’t really think they’d take to that one, but boy was I wrong! They loved the idea and were astounded that such a feat was possible. Mind you, I’d never tried to make a half sphere shaped cake before, but I’m always eager to try new things when it comes to cake making, so I agreed to do the design.

But then of course I had to figure out exactly how to accomplish this! A half sphere cake is no easy thing to make, finding the right shaped cake tin proved to be a challenge. Looking around the internet, the closest thing I could find were the Wilton ball shape pans, but they were way too small at only a 6 inch diameter. The cake had to feed around 30 people so that wasn’t going to cut it. I considered baking a normal round 10 inch cake then carving bits of it from the side to achieve a dome type shape. I wasn’t too confident that I would achieve a nice even and symmetrical shape that way, so decided against it. In the end I decided to try baking the cake in an oven proof pyrex mixing bowl, and that worked a treat!

I used a 3L bowl that I greased and floured, and the same quantity of cake batter as for a 10 inch round cake. This proved to be the perfect amount and the cake rose nicely to almost the top of the bowl. I cooked the cake at about 120 degrees celsius, much lower than usual, and for just over 2 hours, much longer than usual. This is because the middle of the cake was much deeper than the sides, so the sides cooked much faster than the middle. I wanted to avoid having burnt sides and a mushy middle. So cooking at a lower temperature for longer was the solution. Turning the cake out of the bowl was very easy, it slid right out thanks to the greasing and flouring beforehand.

I used my handmade rolled fondant (sugarpaste) to cover the cake and to create the countries on the globe. Geography is not my strong point, but thanks to my wonderful other half, the countries were all placed in roughly the correct places! He also came up with the fantastic idea to put the ‘Good luck Meg’ lettering on the globe. I had originally intended to put it on the cake board which was covered with white rolled fondant, but it looked so much better on the cake itself.

I used modelling fondant to create the panda. Thanks to my practice the previous weekend, I knew pretty much what to do to achieve a nice panda! This time the eyes worked out really well and the modelling fondant created a nice smooth finish. I also created the little suitcases with brown modelling fondant. The handles were pretty tricky, but I got there in the end. I ran a skewer through the centre of the cake then speared poor panda through it to secure him to the cake. A little bit of edible glue ensured he and the suitcases weren’t going to move around.

And voila, a panda with suitcases on a  world globe!

And thankfully, as soon as the cake was presented at the going away party to the lady being farewelled, she exclaimed, “That is the cutest cake ever ! I love pandas!”. So people didn’t make the mistake of thinking I was too stupid to know pandas are native to China and not Japan!

The Panda on Drugs

Sunday, July 12th, 2009
Pandas made from fondant - the little one has HUGE eyeballs!

Pandas made from fondant - the little one has HUGE eyeballs!

It’s been a pretty good week, I made 2 cakes and got stuck into some animal modelling. The first cake was designed for a 21st with 2 tiers of cupcakes underneath it. The colour scheme was pale blue, white and silver with butterflies and flowers – very pretty, take a look here. This design would also be great for a wedding, click here to see how I adapted it to be suitable by adding some elegant white pillars. The other cake was a wedding cake, 3 tiers covered in ivory with white flowers here and there and claret coloured ribbons, bows and brooches at the base of each tier. It was a design I’ve been wanting to create for ages so I was really pleased I was finally able to do it. Click here for a picture.

I also practiced some animal modelling. I’ve been asked to make a panda cake for a farewell and I want to avoid the sitting down teddy bear mold as that feels a bit too childish for the occasion. So I’ve decided to make a “normal” cake with panda figures on the top.

I’ve never actually made a panda from modelling fondant before, but I have made teddy bears. So I decided to use that method and adapt it for a panda. I used some spare fondant I had lying around and practiced making pandas this weekend.

As you can see from the pic, they look pretty much like pandas but have a ways to go yet. The main problem is that the eyes look very goggly, and the little baby panda looks like he’s on drugs. One of his eyeballs is massively huge and the other is really wonky. I didn’t have any royal icing to hand so I just used fondant to try to make the eyeballs, which I now know was not the best idea. I’d love to get hold of an edible decorating pen in black ink so I could just colour in the eyeballs and avoid extra layering, which adds to the “goggle” effect, which we don’t want.

Unfortunately, I really didn’t knead the fondant enough for the first panda I made (the big “daddy” one), so you can see it has some cracks in it. The one that is constructed the best is probably the medium sized “mummy” panda, apart from the goggly eyes.

I’m slightly concerned that people will misunderstand the cake concept. The lady being farewelled is going to Japan to teach for a year. But she loves pandas, so the organisers asked for a panda cake. I’m hoping no one will think that I was too stupid to know that pandas are found in China and not Japan!

The cake is being delivered on Friday, so hopefully I’ll be able to blog about it next Sunday with some pics. Till then, have a great week everyone!