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how would one make a cake like this?

enter image description here

This is my drawing of what i want my LOs cake to look like. The bakery estimated it at being over 500 dollars! So I'd rather make it myself.

  • That looks really hard...You're sure you want to attempt that? – Nick Stauner Jan 15 '14 at 6:36
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    Do you have any experience making elaborate decorated cakes? If so, perhaps you have specific questions about accomplishing particular aspects of that design, and you could edit your question. If not, that's a very ambitious first project - there's a reason someone estimated it costing so much - and the answer might be that you should try something simpler. – Cascabel Jan 15 '14 at 6:37
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    More than one art show per day? In any case, assuming you have some pretty solid artistic skills, think of the skill involved here as analogous to picking up a completely new medium. Unless you're exceptionally gifted (and a bit lucky), you're going to make some mistakes, and some of them will be the kind that mean you have to go bake a new cake. If you really want to get into this (and you have enough time for some trial and error), and rumtscho's summary isn't enough, you might want to post questions about individual aspects of the process (shaping, applying decoration, etc). – Cascabel Jan 16 '14 at 1:11
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    Given your comments on rumtscho's post, it does sound like you have some of the necessary skills, so I'd definitely encourage posting some more specific questions. "How do I make this cake?" is way too broad, but people might be able to help you with "how do I carve a dome into the right shape?", "how do I attach the pieces so it doesn't fall over?", "how do I carve that handle?", "how do I make a checkered pattern?"... – Cascabel Jan 16 '14 at 1:14
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    This is not a forum. If you have a specific new question, please post it as a new question. If you'd like to add information to your question, please edit the question. – Cascabel Jan 16 '14 at 7:09
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If you want a sculpted cake of this type:

enter image description here

then I would advise against trying it at home. This is a skill you have to learn over years. Basically, you have to be an experienced sculptor in working with cake materials, which are harder to use than the typical art materials like clay. Look up "cake sculpting" on YouTube to see what they are doing. Or search for Cake boss episodes, taking into account that this "reality" TV is heavily edited - they are showing you a very clean and quickened version of the process. Really, I think that 500 dollars is cheap for having your drawing sculpted. By the way, the airbrushing tool alone used for finishing the cake in the picture runs at around 200 dollars, although of course you don't strictly need it for making the cake in such a shape.

You seem to be good at drawing. If you can make a finished, colored drawing out of it instead of just a sketch, you can go to a bakery who has a foodgrade printer, and have it printed on the cake. They mainly advertise it as "your cake with your photo on it", but of course they can print a digitized drawing too.

enter image description here

If you don't want a picture, it is also doable as a 2d picture piped onto a flat cake. If the 500 dollars are for a sculpted cake, then having the picture piped can be much cheaper (I don't think that they would have required 500 dollars just for piping, but who knows, maybe you live in Manhattan). It would be this type of cake, but with your drawing on it:

piping decorated cake

If you have steady hands and some artistic experience, this kind of decoration is a skill that can be learned in maybe 20 hours. Take a piping bag, make icing, and practice on other surfaces first, even stretched plastic wrap. When you are good enough, attempt the drawing on a practice surface. Then you are ready to make the cake. Fondant or marzipan will look best as the background for the piping, but they are very hard to work with. If you have never done it before, use a cake frosted with buttercream as the background. If you have the time and inclination, you can learn how to make marzipan flowers and add them as 3-d elements on top of your drawing.

The basic skills you need are:

  • bake consistently good bisquit layers. You can cut off domed parts, but it is a hassle, and if you are not good at getting the leavening right, you are risking cutting into a metallic tasting cake after all this work.
  • Making buttercream. It is not hard, but requires a bit of exercise and a few tools. You should be accustomed to baking by weight, know the feel of butter and eggs at the right temperature and the right stage of beating, etc. If you have never done it before, again, make 2-3 batches of buttercream before you try the actual birthday cake.
  • Frosting cakes. Your drawing will probably require a large rectangular cake, which is harder to get evenly frosted than a small round one on a turntable.
  • I already covered the piping. Marzipan flowers are a further skill I mentioned, but optional.

The Internet is full of tutorials on decorating cakes, watch YouTube videos about the more visual parts. There are good articles on making icing too, and we also have one or two older questions on that.

  • I bake quite a bit from scratch! Ive made sheet cakes and a couple smaller stacked cakes before just not.. this... lol! I can pipe ok as well with things like drop lines, roses and a couple other things ive picked up just playing around with piping bags and such,.. for the flowersi was going to make daisys cause ive made those before with out alot of trouble at all and I have a dome shaped cake pan.so I wont have to do a intensive ammount of carving either. Though I do have alot of experience with clay, and other molding things like chocolate and ive done sugar work as well. :) :) – user22564 Jan 15 '14 at 22:55
  • They had wanted 500 for just the cake not any of the decorations or anything just for a plain fondont cake :/ which I could technically afford but it wouldnt be as pretty as I would of liked! – user22564 Jan 16 '14 at 0:14
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There are a few issues with the cake design you've posted, and I'm probably missing some, as I don't do this professionally, but here's a start:

  1. Stacking cakes that aren't prefectly symetrical requires determining the proper center of gravity; if you're too far off, the cake will topple. Building a central support pillar helps (which must be securely mounted to the cake board), but can't overcome something that's significantly off-center. The small base that you've shown will make things even more difficult.

  2. You need to use a denser cake so that it will properly hold up to the weight being placed on it, this is especially important for designs such as yours where the base is smaller than the top of the cake, as the pressure will be exerted over a smaller area.

  3. Depending on the size of the cake that you are planning, you may be better off finding metal bowls to use as molds, and baking the layers in that, rather than attempting to stack and shape them after baking. However, because of the size of the cake, you'll need to insert some sort of a heating core. Once it's baked (it will take a while), determine what angle you're going to want it at and slice the layers appropriately -- do not just flip over the cake and slice parallel to the flat top or you'll end up with a slip plane if you use jam, pudding or something that's not really viscous between the layers.

  4. Flowers can be made from either icing or gum paste, but it takes some effort to get right; I still screw up icing flowers as I only do them at most one a year ... but they can be done in advance and saved for later. Depending on the humidity, you might need to make them days in advance so that they can be transfered to the cake. Some cake shops will sell pre-made flowers, but if it's a good time of the year, you might be even better off going to a florist and using real edible flowers.

  5. The flowerpot handle and spout could be made from gum paste or modeling chocolate, but attacking may be a problem. The spout is tricky as it's effectively coming out of the bottom of the cake, and only connects in a really small area.

  6. Some of the geometric patterns are more difficult; your checkerboard pattern on the lower bowl will take a bit of work in either fondant or icing -- the fondant would normally be easier, but as you have a round surface that you're applying to, you'll have to determine the circumfrance at each level and use trapezoidal pieces. Icing could be faster if you set a grid and then filled in, but you can't easily use a flood fill. You'd probably want to pipe in the fill, and then smooth it (or don't even bother to smooth it).

... in the end, by the time you got to your stripes, polka dots, etc ... you'll probably start to appreciate why they'd charge $500 for a cake. This is probably going to take a week of work, as you need time for the layers to cool before you can frost them, and working on your own means that you'll be working on one layer at a time ... which could be a couple of hours. As most of us aren't used to marathon cake decorating, you might need to take breaks to rest your piping hand and/or back, so might have to plan for one night per tier (if you have a day job, and aren't trying to do this over a weekend).

  • They wanted 500 just for the cake not any of the decor or anything :/ and my drawings not particularly to scale either i was just sketching out in the middle of the night while my LO slept what i wanted XD I did buy a round cake tin from wiltons to do the teacups and teapot though! so that should help:) I was thinking of doing a square base with a down thats screwed into the middle for the big support with smaller cake dowels to hold up the next layer where needed! and this doesnt have to be perfect its for my baby lol just pretty! And sadly wehre i live even in the summer fresh flowers suck – user22564 Jan 16 '14 at 3:18
  • they wilt as soon as there cut so i was going to make these flowers but i did debate ordering them from the specialty shop to make life easier XD but i felt like id be cheating then! – user22564 Jan 16 '14 at 3:19
  • @user22564 : was it the spherical mold they have for soccar balls and the like? If so, then you can probably get away with making it twice, then using the two halves for the lower cups ... and as it's only about 6" across, you probably won't want to slice each part to add a filling ... but the pillar is still going to be important. The easiest is probably a fairly substantial wood dowel, pre-drill the middle so it won't split, and then screw it down to some MDF or plywood. The flowers can potentially be placed on at the last second if you're not too obsessive each one being perfectly spaced – Joe Jan 16 '14 at 3:28
  • Yeah its the 6 or 7 inch one XD this cake isnt entirely all that big just fancy! the mustache on the bottom is a flat cake that im making out of 2 9 inch rounds cut like this encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/… so its not really that big:) – user22564 Jan 16 '14 at 3:30

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