Sunday, November 27, 2011

Say hello to my little friends!

This week I made a birthday cake featuring things of significance to the birthday girl - her family, her teaching job, reading and art. My experience with figure modelling has been limited to animals primarily and my dad. Most of my figures tend to look a bit on the chubby side which I wanted to avoid for this cake, so I took to searching on the internet for pictures and tips when it comes to making fondant/gumpaste figures.

One of the reasons that I have had some difficulty with my figures sagging and subsequently looking a bit hefty is that in the past I have not allowed enough time for pieces of the figure to set before adding other components - I have typically done the whole figure in one shot. This is not really a problem if you are doing small animals but is a good idea if you are doing larger animals or people figures. There are a few different options for what type of sugar product you use for figure modelling. Fondant alone will likely be too soft and will take too long to set. You can use gumpaste which dries super hard but is quite expensive and I find is better for smaller details, modelling paste which can also be referred to as 50/50 which is half fondant and half gumpaste, or you can making your own modelling paste by adding tylose powder to fondant (about 1/2 teaspoon to 8 oz of fondant). I tend to use the latter.

For this family, I made all of the bodies first and allowed them to set for a day. I secured the bodies with a piece of spaghetti as I don't like to use non-edible items on my cakes if I can avoid it. I placed sponge behind the bodies to prevent them from leaning backwards as they dried. I made the heads next and allowed them to set for about 4 hours before adding the hair to avoid the weight of the hair from squishing the head.

The requested cake flavour was chocolate with chocolate buttercream. I seem to be on a bit of a devil's food kick - I paired it with chocolate swiss meringue buttercream and masked it with vanilla since I was covering it in light-coloured fondant. I rolled the fondant a bit too thin so it wasn't as smooth as I would have liked. I like to roll my fondant a minimum of 3/8" thick. The brand of fondant I use tends to stretch quite a bit so next time I may even roll it to 1/4" thick.

To support the weight of the family, I covered a small, thin cake board in lime green fondant and finished it off as a rug. This way the family could simply be lifted off the cake before cutting. I seated the family on the rug around a mini fondant chocolate birthday cake. The front of the cake was finished with a blackboard with 'Happy Birthday' piped on with royal icing, fondant apples, a little book and a painter's palette.

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