September has been an awesome month with the Buffet on Table and I have been blogging non stop this whole month. I hope you enjoyed my virtual treat. Coming to the final day, in blogger’s choice theme, I wanted to finish the marathon with an amazing post. What can be better than showing you how to create this beauty? So for the final day it is a cake tutorial. Hope you all enjoy this. The tutorial for today is a mannequin cake. As a Fashion Designer, I love mannequins and after seeing a lot of mannequins, I decided to make a cake out of it. The cake looks like it is suspended in air resembling a mannequin with a dress on it. This is entirely cake. No dummies used. It weighed nearly 7-8 kgs and with the structure it was more than 10 kgs. I couldn’t lift it on my own.
How many of you wondered how a cake stands vertically with out collapsing and bears all the weight of the fondant, accents and everything put on top of it? I used to have this doubt, as a simple cake of mine would collapse under the weight of the frosting. When I started decorating cakes, I have faced so many mishaps. Once the fondant is on top of the cake, the cake will start collapsing and it was the end of the project. I had to start again. So I researched in to the art of structures for cakes. You know that I am a self taught baker and decorator and so there was no one to spoon feed me information. I had to read so many articles online to understand the structures of huge cakes and I needed to try once to make sure that I understood right.
When Subhashini of Let’s Do It With Fondbites selected Fashion inspired cakes as the theme this month, I decided to do a carved and structural cake. You know carving, right? But what is structural? It is also called as gravity defying cakes. The cake looks like it is suspended in air with out any support but has a strong support inside. All the whimsical cakes need super strong support and good designing. Once the theme was out, I designed my cake and my first visit was to a carpenter. Yes, you read it right, a carpenter is the most important person in designing a structural cake. After a failed attempt, we finally arrived at a perfect structure for the cake. It took nearly a week for him to deliver the structure and I started baking cakes only after I got the structure.
For this whole cake, I made one 8″ round, two 7″ round, three 6″ round and one 13″ * 9″ sheet cake. All the round cakes were my eggless vanilla cake with oil and the sheet cake was eggless condensed milk cake. I made butter cream with 800 gm of butter and 1.6 kg of icing sugar.
This is the structure I was talking about. A base and a vertical pipe which can with stand all the cake weight. Let me explain in detail. When I asked the carpenter for the structure, I wanted him to make it so that I can reuse it for my future cakes. After spending 2500 INR, I can’t think of doing it for one time use. All the parts can be removed and re attached by screwing. And if I want it for a larger or smaller cake, I just need to go for a shorter or longer pipe. The base remains the same.
This is how I can take the structure apart. I calculated the height of the pipes and diameter of the cake boards and base boards before going to the carpenter. My engineering background came to help me in this. The carpenter was surprised with my detailed drawing.Clean all the parts and cling wrap the boards. For the first board, I used a butter paper but cling wrapping works great.
Start by covering the base board with fondant. I used a portion of white fondant and a portion of brown fondant. When rolled together, it created a marble effect. I just brushed the base with little water and stuck the fondant on it. Allow it to dry completely.
This is called as the washi tape. It is self adhesive and it is used to cover the sides of the cake board. It is available on Flipkart. I have struggled a lot for sticking a tape at the side and this tip from Subhashini saved my day.
Start from one side. Cover the whole board and finish where you began.
I used a sugar paste to make these designs with a mould. First cover the metal and the rod with sugar paste with a little water as glue. Then stick the designs for the stand. Place some tissue to hold them in shape.
Once completely dry, remove the tissue gently.
Mix vodka and gold dust.
Brush it carefully on the design.
Once done, allow it to dry.
Wrap the pipes with cling film.
Place the 8″ board on the first screw and fix the first pipe. You can do the layering after this but you might need to cover the base with cling film to prevent it from all the cake crumbs while carving. I did the carving part separately and then attached it to the base board.
On all the cakes, make a hole in the centre. This is where you will insert the cake into the tube.
Place the cake on the 8″ board and fill with butter cream. Start layering the cakes like this. Once there are four or five layers, it is time to add support.
Take four dowels and insert them as shown. Now mark the point near the butter cream.
Slice the dowel at the marked point.
Insert it back into the cake.
Once all the dowels are in place, place a cling wrapped corrugated board on top of it. This board must have a hole in the centre to insert the pipe.
Now start layering again.
I started carving the sides for the tapered look of the skirt. Keep on carving until you are happy with the shape.
Then I placed the entire cake on the base of the structure and screwed the pipe tight. The first part of the structure is done. Do you see the gap left out with out cake. I miscalculated and was short of one more 6″ cake. So I decided to make a filling.
All the carved cake crumbs were mixed with the butter cream and made into a stiff paste. This was used as a filling between the waist and the cake.
This is how the filling is supposed to be shaped. I also used it in places where the cake was not according to the shape. Think like a mason filling all the holes with cement. Your medium is different but the work is the same!! At first I placed the filling with out support and it started crushing the cake beneath. So I had to remove it and place a support in between.
Start crumb coating the cake with butter cream to seal in all the crumbs.
This is how I supported the cake again. I sliced the dowels and placed one more corrugated board cling wrapped before placing the filling again.
Once the crumb coating is done, add more frosting and use a scraper to evenly distribute it.
The cake is covered entire with butter cream and is allowed to crust. When fresh the cream is sticky but after a while it crusts. When you touch, it will not stick to your finger. You need to wait until that to move on to the next step.
Using a paper towel, smooth the top of the cake. For this the butter cream must have crusted completely.
Can you see the difference now?
Now for the bodice of the mannequin. Start with the shape of the waist board. Again make a hole in the centre.
After three layers, it is time to add dowels and another cake board.
Sorry for the poor quality of the photo. I was working late night and my camera was not behaving good! This is how I stacked the cakes for the bodice.
And then carve it like a bodice. I fist carved it and finished with frosting. Then when hubby returned home, he was not satisfied. Then I had to carve more to get the bodice proportional to the skirt part.
Crumb coated and frosted the whole cake. After a while I used a tissue to smooth the surface. And just let it set overnight. The overnight setting makes it easy for fondant application.
As the cake had so many curves and bends, I had to add fondant for smaller areas and then merge the meeting line. It was a tough task but still I managed to keep the meeting lines inside other fondant decorations. For the bodice, the meeting line will be covered with the blouse.
And the top will be covered by the black fondant just to give the mannequin look.
Then I added the blouse and skirt parts. Though I tried hard to merge the lines in the skirt, it didn’t merge but after painting it became less obvious.
I painted the skirt blue with vodka. I also mixed a little white to make it brighter.
Then fondant accents for the blouse. I used brown fondant to make the designs and then I painted them gold.
I felt that the cake was done after all the paintings. Only the embroidery designs needed to be painted. But hubby interfered again. He was not happy with the skirt. Yes, even I was not happy. After the overnight settling, there were some bulges in the skirt due to the cake settling. And I couldn’t do anything about it.
The bumps are quite obvious, right?
Here is what I did to make the hip part right. I added some extra fondant to cover the depression and then added a bow to conceal every thing? Have I let you into the secret? Please don’t tell any one. OK?
Some more views of the cake..
This is how the base looks like..
An out door snap..
I tried my level best to give you all the information about the basics of structural cakes which I know and I hope this will be helpful when you design your own.