Good gravy have I been busy! Running pillar to post. Burning the candle at both ends. Nose to the grindstone. Running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Burning the midnight oil. OK, I will stop. You get the idea. I bet you guys have been busy too since it is graduation time.
My beautiful and sweet niece graduated from high school last weekend, and I made her a special cake. I wanted to try the tilted method using wedges. I had not done that before. It was really pretty easy.
I wanted to of course use her school colors and mascot, but also incorporate little bits of her life, while making it fun and whimsical.
The grad hat was a styro ball I cut and carved a bit and covered with fondant. The mortar board was a square of fondant with tylose, dried ahead and glued on with chocolate. I used a 4 inch ball and a 5 inch square in this case. The clay gun was used to make the tassel.
The scroll work was done with a cutter set available here.
The paw prints were stenciled on, and represent LSU, where she is going to college. I used the alphabet tappit cutters for the LSU letters. I used the funky alphabet cutters for her name.
The initials in the heart are of Paige and her boyfriend, Chris.
I did not have time to make the flowers, so I purchased them, and dusted some to add color.
Here are the flowers I purchased:
The graduation figure was made with a chocolate mold. I used fondant with tylose in the mold, let it dry firm, and then airbrushed it with super pearl luster dust.
The fork represents the restaurant where she works as a hostess. That thing was quite a challenge to make. I was so engrossed in trying to get one of those suckers to come out right, I forgot to take photos. But here is how I did it:
I rolled out a piece of gumpaste and pressed it between 2 plastic forks that were stacked on top of each other. I squeezed them hard together to make the impression of the handle and the 4 tines into the gumpaste. While they were sandwiched together I trimmed around the outside of the fork edges with an exacto knife. Then I took the top fork off and let the cut out gumpaste sit atop the bottom one for a good long time. After it dried a good bit, I took that gumpaste "fork" and laid it on the table and trimmed to the exact outline of the impressions made by real forks. The handle was easy peasy, but trying to cut the tines out made me curse and throw things. And curse some more. They kept breaking off or were just crappy looking. After creating a graveyard of about 12 reject forks, I decided to go with shorter than real-life tines, and got one fork that was decent. I put that back on top of the plastic fork to get the proper shape and let it dry a day or two. Airbrushed it silver after I added the letter D on the top of the handle. I just knew I was going to break it, but God was smiling on me and it made it to the cake. Whew!
Here are some photos of the construction. Please forgive the terrible quality of these photos. I was very pressed for time as my power had gone out for quite a while and put me behind schedule. On top of that, I was working with a heavily bandaged finger after slicing it it open cutting the Styrofoam wedges with a very long, very sharp knife. I think I needed a stitch or two, but no time for that!
I put the ganached tiers atop a Styrofoam lift, so I would be able to tuck the fondant under the cake and foamcore board under it for a clean bottom look.
Here is one tier after it was covered.
I had topsy turvy dummies laying around, which worked out great, because the top slant was already cut for me. I just had to trim them down to the height I wanted. (Note: to be considered food safe, you need to cover your wedge and board with something appropriate.)
I attached a piece of thin foamcore to the bottom of each styro wedge with white chocolate. This would prevent the supports from going into the styro under the weight of the cakes. I doweled the bottom cake as usual under the wedge support.
I used melted chocolate to attach the wedge to the lower tier, and more melted chocolate on top of the wedge, then placed the middle tier in place and held it there until the chocolate firmed up. Then I drove 2 wooden dowels down through both tiers.
I repeated the same process to apply the top tier. I wanted the top tier to have more of a tilt to the opposite side, but I miscalculated my slant, so it basically came out straight. Oh well, live and learn. (Dagnabbit!) After the top tier was in place, I drove one large wooden dowel down the middle of all 3 tiers.
That cake was very stable and did not budge. Cutting and serving it proved to be a little bit messy, as the melted chocolate between the tiers did tear off some of the fondant when I disassembled it. But I guess that is the price you have to pay to get this look and have it be super stable. I guess you could try to do it without the melted chocolate, but I felt better having it there as glue.
I cut apart all the purchased flower sprays and arranged them on the cake, using royal icing as glue where needed. The fondant dove is the school mascot.
I used the school logo clip art that I got off their website. I made little icons with edible icing sheets backed with white fondant, to put between the diamonds. The school initials, SSA, were impressed into the diamonds using the JEM alphabet cutter set.
Paige just loved her cake and thanked me over and over and over. Everyone at the party went nuts over it; it was very good for my ego, LOL! I have 4 more nieces coming up behind her, graduating from the same school, so I better start thinking of more design ideas soon! Oy vay. I'll think about that later.
You can order the complete tutorial for Sharon's Topsy Turvey Cake
Tutorial and Photography by Sharon Zambito. All rights reserved- 2009
This tutorial was used with the expressed permission of Sharon Zambito. This tutorial may not be reproduced without written permission by the author.