Monday, October 29, 2012

Rubik's Cube

This was the first cake that I made for someone I have never met before!  My brother-in-law's Aunt Linda, who lives out of state, is a fan of my cakes.  So when she was coming up here for a visit, she ordered a cake for her son Mitchell's 16th birthday.

The Rubik's Cube.  A cake to stir the hearts of math nerds everywhere.  (Just to clarify, I mean nerd in a good way).  And so of course I had to make my cake solveable.  At first I was just going to buy a Rubik's cube and use that as my model.  How much could it cost?

The answer is too much.  "Okay," I thought.  "No problem.  I'll just look on the internet."  Of course there are a million pictures of rubik's cube cakes and unsolved cubes.  But none of them showed all of the sides!  I am not enough of a math genius to just figure it out from the sides I could see.  And I really wanted to be ACCURATE.

Good thing I have a brother who IS a math genius.  He worked up a quick computer model that showed me what colors to put where.  Score!  (If you want the model, email me).

So - I made three 8inch square chocolate 2-layer cakes.  Each one went on a cake board.  I frosted them with chocolate buttercream.  I used a different recipe this time since I wasn't going to be piping anything.  I think I used the Wilton online recipe which halves the amount of shortening and adds butter instead.  Tastes much better.  I also used special dark cocoa to make it look darker.

Then I stacked the cakes so that the middle layer was turned.

Now I should have made the colored squares the night before, but I wanted to make sure the height was correct.  So I waited until the cakes were baked so I could measure them and make the squares the correct size.  But they didn't have enough time to dry and harden, so they were a little soft when I put them on the cakes.

Before adding the squares, I staked all three cakes with a long, sharpened dowel rod (sharpened by my helpful father, thanks Dad!).  It went through the cakes and the two cake boards, ensuring that they wouldn't fall over on the trip to the party.

Then, using my brother's model, I quickly added the squares using frosting to stick them on.

Now my pregnant sister was holding the cake on the way to deliver it and I was pretty nervous that some of the squares were going to fall off.  But the cake made it there in one piece, no repairs necessary!

And there you have it - the solvable Rubik's cube cake.

Monday, October 15, 2012

I am Obsessed With Angry Birds!

I am obsessed with Angry Birds!!!

That's what my nephew Peter said when he begged me to make him an angry birds cake several months ago.  He's six.  And he LOVES Angry Birds.

Now Peter knows my methods, so he wanted to look at Angry Birds pictures with me to find the perfect cake.  The first one we found was a playable cake.  (This dad is such an over-achiever.  Yeah, I'm jealous)  Peter's eyes lit up.  "Can you make this one Aunt Joy?" he asked.  Oh boy.

After sifting through tons of pictures, Peter picked about 8 that he liked.  He specified some details - for example, there were to be no black birds.  And he definitely wanted a sun and clouds.  Oh, and there should be a bird in the air and it should be a red one.  (Thanks whoever was genius enough to figure that one out.)

My main task was to make the birds.  The cake would be two tiers, a 10-inch and a 6-inch.  But the birds (and the pigs, of course) were the main attraction.  Now, if you don't know anything about Angry Birds, I suggest you go educate yourself online.  I had to.  Otherwise this cake will not really make sense to you.

I started by finding the best picture online of all the birds, collectively.  I found this one, a picture of edible cake toppers made by the Artisan Cake Company.

They were selling these for $115.
Say what?????  Maybe I'm in the wrong business . . . .

I made all of the birds and pigs out of fondant.  A few of the details were added with icing.  When you are using fondant, don't forget to cover, cover, cover!  You don't want it to dry out.  Wrap the part you aren't using in plastic wrap.

I won't bore you with exact details of how I made each character.  If you are making some yourself and really want to know, shoot me an email (email address is in the upper right hand corner).

I started with the pigs:

Rolling out the green fondant

The Pig King
(I know, he looks creepy because the eyes aren't finished)
Then I started on the birds, first the white and yellow ones.  I have no idea what each bird does, I was just going off of the picture.

The secret to the birds (and the pigs) is in the details.  And the real secret is the beak.  I cannot claim this idea as my own.  I found a tutorial on the red bird and whoever wrote it gave some great advice.  To make the beak look real, first you form it into the correct shape.  And then you cut it with scissors.  It just looks right.  I used this trick for all of the beaks.

This yellow guy was my favorite one.  He just turned out so well.
His eyes and eyebrows are made from fondant.
Most of the other bird's eyebrows are made with frosting.

First stage complete

Now I was pretty impressed with my bird making skills so far.  I am not a sculptor by any stretch of the imagination.  But give me basic shapes and I'm good.  That's what I loved about these characters, anyone could make them.  Or I guess you could spend 115 bucks.

Next I made the slingshot, eggs (which apparently the pigs stole) and the dreaded bird in the air.

I wasn't sure if this was going to work at all.  But I knew Peter really really wanted a bird in the air.  So I bought some wire and stuck it into one of the red birds.  I was hoping the fondant would harden around the wire and hold it in.  (No such luck)


I made the cakes and the blue frosting, filled the cakes and frosted them.  Then I had to finish the birds and pigs by adding black frosting for the eyes, eyebrows and other details..

I also had to make some structures for the birds to knock over.  I started with Nutty Bars, a delicious combination of chocolate and peanut butter.  I sliced them up in varying sizes.

I made some modeling chocolate using mint chocolate candy melts.  I didn't plan on using mint, but that was the only kind available when I was at the store.  I rolled out the chocolate (which I made the night before) and wrapped it around the nutty bars.

 Next I rolled out yellow fondant for the sun, white fondant for the clouds and green fondant for the grass and applied them to the cake.  All that was left was to place all the elements on.  I waited until the cake was delivered to put the slingshot and the bird-in-midair on so they wouldn't fall off on route.

The cake made it intact to its destination.  I added the slingshot.  Next was the bird in the air.  I managed to balance it on the wires.  It was totally intentional for it to be knocking the cake over.  Totally.

And the cake was done.

Here are some close-ups:

I love the pig with the mustache!

The birthday boy matches his cake.

Most people don't want to cut my cakes when they see them.  The first thing Peter said when he saw it was, "I can't wait to cut it!"

Peter wanted to take some pictures too.

And a shot of my favorite.

So, what was Peter's favorite element you ask?  Not the angry birds, nor the pigs, not even the bird-in-mid-air!!!  It was the crown on the king pig.  The crown????  He was so impressed with it.  He told me, "I didn't know you could do that!"  What a funny kid.

Peter thought the birds and pigs were so cool that he wanted to keep them.  So his mom bought some spray that would preserve them.  So now he has a collection of angry bird figurines.

Happy Birthday Peter!!!