Monday, 9 April 2012

In the beginning there was one cake...

Rating: Medium (some bits are easy, others hard)

So for the very first post in this shiny new blog, I've decided to make the subject that which kind of prompted its creation.

For my partner's 25th birthday, he decided to have a 5-squared party. ie a kiddie party, for which there would be a need for an awesome cake. I decided a dragon would be awesome, so decided to create the beast shown below, and will now take you through it's creation, step by step:

First, I took 2 round standard chocolate cakes (made in an approx. 23cm cake tin. I didn't measure it, so assume that's about the right size). I made them 2 days before I wanted to decorate them, wrapped them in a double-layer of clingwrap and kept them in the fridge. This makes them easier to handle, less crumbly and helps the fondant stick.
So I cut one cake in half, and set the two halves on end, back to back (see photo). This was going to be the body, so I made sure I'd used the higher cake to make it a nice fat dragon. My cake wasn't perfect, and had an uneven rise. So I used the wider part near the tail, to give it a fatter belly than chest (it worked out okay in the end). The other cake I cut into pieces to use for the head, neck, tail and legs. The wings I would worry about later.

body of dragon!head, top left; neck, bottom left; tail, top right, legs, center and bottom right

I then carved the head into a slightly better shape. I've never done this before, so it was rather an experiment. I went for a shape similar to a cow I guess, but with a more indented forehead. I planned to finish off the shaping with the fondant anyway (sorry, don't have an individual photo of that bit). The next photos are all the bits in place:

head, neck, body, tailadded legs, filled in any obvious big gaps with excess cake

Next I covered the whole thing in a red marshmallow fondant. I'd never used (let alone made) this stuff before, so really the whole cake was an experiment. I'll put up a recipe/directions for making mmf later perhaps. Regardless, be prepared to use a lot of food-dye if you choose to do this! It took almost half a bottle to turn it from pink to red (and even then it was a pinky-red). Another option would be to make a green dragon I guess, but I only had mixed packs of white and pink marshmallows with which to make the fondant, so rather than buy twice as many and waste the pink ones, I simply used them to make red fondant.
Also be prepared to spend a lot of time playing with fondant to create nice shapes and smooth lines on your dragon. I used lumps to fill out the legs and details on the head (such as nostrils). It turned out like this:

I filled in eyes and the yellow belly of the dragon with yellow fondant (had set aside some white for use on other parts of the dragon), and for the nostrils and spikes on the head I used black and red liquorice. It turned out really well - I was happiest with the head in the end! I also started filling in the trickier bits of the background (earth and gold coins).

you cas see the yellow bellyclose-up of the face

Next I started on the wings, making their 'bones' out of bbq skewers, stuck together with blobs of white chocolate. This worked ok, but was more fragile than I'd intended. So next time I'd recommend covering the whole 'bone' in white choc, not just the joints. At this point you also have to decide on the position of the wings, so you can set them in the chocolate to make them rigid. I then covered the skewers in fondant, complete with liquorice claws at the joints and toes, and filled in the membranes with coloured chocolate. It doesn't take too long in the fridge to set.

bbq skewer bones, with fondant and claws! Shows white choc glueone of the finished wings in place

Sticking the wings into the cake was tricky, but I got there in the end. Any gaps I covered with a thin piece of fondant. They weren't rigid enough for my purposes, and collapsed a bit. This was okay though, it just made it look like a resting dragon :) I also used more liquorice to stick spines the whole way along its back, and finished filling in around the dragon with earth (dessicated coconut shaken in a bag with a spoon of cocoa) and gold coins (because it's a dragon, and all dragons need to have some sort of treasure to guard!).

The last bit I did was to make some dice. As the birthday boy is a bit of a role-player, dice and dragons go together like a horse and carriage. I did indeed struggle to make D10s, I should have stuck with 6-sided dice. So the finished product!

 Top-view, finished dragonSide-view, finished dragon
Perhaps next time if I was better prepared the end result would have been a bit better. Slightly disappointed in the dice, as the rest of the cake worked really well... but seeing as the whole thing was an experiment in using mmf, and making dragons, I was happy with how it turned out!
A simpler cake to make than I thought, but some bits were tricky. I wouldn't mind making another now, as I know better what to do and perhaps more importantly what not to do.

In a word? Awesome!


  1. Awesome blog Liz! Only problem is we get to see the pretty pictures but can't taste the cake!! :)

    1. Thank you!

      And I know... But you would be in Japan when the party was on, wouldn't you? :P