Making this cake wasn't the easiest but I did find out some pitfalls along the way. Making a carved cake can be challenging but the first issue I had was making the collar and the nozzle for this tank. Since it had to dry for several days I made it before I had actually baked the cake. Well, when I baked the cake I found out that the collar and nozzle were too small! So I ended up making it again. I was very happy that they were dry enough when it came time to top the cake with them.
The cake is 3 four inch layers. This feeds 10 people which was perfect for our guest list. I leveled off two of the layers and left the dome on the top one, just trimming off enough to give me a flat surface for the nozzle. Lastly I carved into the bottom tier so it would allow room for the bottom collar. In retrospect I didn't carve in enough so the collar doesn't look as recessed as it should. It is vanilla cake filled with chocolate brownie buttercream...and yes, it was very yummy! I stacked the cakes and then took a wooden skewer and nailed it through the top of the cake, slightly to the side, into the cake drum below. Then I covered it all with a crumbcoating of buttercream and let it set up overnight.
Now it was time to cover the whole thing with fondant. It is a strange shape for a cake so I had to go very slowly and carefully with the fondant, smoothing it out one small section at a time until it was completely adhering to the cake. When this was totally smooth I nailed in another skewer into the top of the cake (also to one side) and down into the cake drum below. We had to travel 200 miles with this cake and with it being much taller than it is wide, it meant it could topple easily and I didn't want that going anywhere!
This is when I added the bottom collar and the middle roll of fondant. I use an extruder to make the long snake of fondant but it's still a real challenge to get it so it looks even around the middle of the cake so I brushed the roll with a mist of water and then put it on the cake and then adjusted as I needed before it set up on the cake. You only have seconds before the sugar bond occurs so you have to work fast!
I then set the collar up on the top of the cake where I wanted it to sit and marked the cake in three places. I removed the collar and piped in a layer of royal icing. This not only sets the collar up above the cake like a real tank but also sticks the collar to the cake securely. I went back a few times and piped more lines on top of the first lines to build it up, letting it dry between layers. Finally I set the color up on top of the last wet layer and then used the royal icing to smooth it out so it looked like the welds on a real tank. Next the nozzle was put into place with a toothpick and some water to hold it into place.
The last part on the cake was the hand painting. Now the logo of his company is something close to this one but you can't put a trademarked logo on a cake so I just changed it a bit. I cut the arrows out of blue fondant using two sizes of circle cutters. The I cut the circles in half and then carved the arrows with an exacto knife I have just for cakes. Then it was time for the hand painting. There really is no easy way to hand paint. You just dive in and hope for the best. Over time and with practice you do get better at it...I'm not quite there yet but I'm working on it! LOL!
Finally there was the writing on the drum. It's royal icing because I wanted to be able to paint on it and you can't do that with frosting. So I piped out the letters in white and then let them totally dry. After I made sure they were totally dry I started coloring them in.
The birthday guy was very surprised by the cake so it was great! We all enjoyed eating it too! And there was the last challenge. How do you cut a cake that's not shaped like cake? I'd love to say that there was a tried and true method but there just isn't. With this one I removed the toppers, grabbed an extra paper plate, then just cut the cake right down the middle. I carefully took one half of the cake and put it on the extra paper plate and laid down the other side on the drum. Then I just cut the appropriate sized pieces which worked out perfectly to give cake and a bit of filling to everyone.
This upcoming week brings another carved mini-birthday cake! I'll share with you on Sunday!