Cake Show – Forest

In March 2014, I entered the National Capital Area Cake Show for the third year in a row. After two blue ribbons in the Intermediate Division, I decided to move up to Advanced.  I entered just one cake in the show and I always prefer sculpting over the other entries. Everything is edible.

This page shows the progression and my creative process. : )

UPDATE: This cake won 2nd place in the Advanced Division, Sculpted Category.

I pulled out my best colors for this project. There are both petal dusts and luster dusts in here – I used these to paint different details on the leaves, moss, critters, etc. (I HAVE SO MANY DUSTS! LOVE THEM!)
I experimented a bit with mossy textures. I rolled a piece of fondant into a ball and then with a brush in each hand I rolled it around to add texture. I liked the end result and used a few variations on my piece.
A lot of work in progress… I picked up an interesting, artificial plant at Michaels that I figured would be a neat way for my leaves to set so they take on many different subtle angles. I think it worked great.In this photo you can see a variety of leaves, mossy shapes, mushrooms, etc. They are all still naked — trust me, I will paint them to look fantastic!
This shows the power of petal dust. These are textured pieces of fondant I made to look like moss. The right sides of each piece are just the colored fondant (green or white). Then I brushed this mossy green petal dust on/into the left side of each piece. Such a difference! This is why I have so many dusts – they rock! And I really liked the multi-tonal greens of the green fondant and mossy green petal dust. That’s the combination I used.
Just like the past two years, I wanted to make a custom cake board to give my entry more whimsy. Entries are limited to 18×18, so I drew a pattern out within those dimensions and my husband cut it out with his power tools. Here’s my ‘unique’ cake board, all cut out and sanded.I cut pieces of galvanized wire to use for the smaller branches of the fallen log. I molded them a bit and stapled them to the cake board, nailing the staples too so they fit snuggly around the wires.
I airbrushed the leaves I made over the past few weeks — here are the ferns in progress. I airbrushed the backs first, then the fronts. Each side got airbrushed with a strip of ‘electric green’ up the middle and then bordered with ‘avocado’. I only use Americolor airbrush and icing colors.
With the wires securely affixed to the board, I covered them in a layer of RKTs (rice krispy treats). Once the first layer set over a few days, I added more to thicken up the branches.
Here’s my tray of leaves, all dry after being airbrushed. I wanted the little leaves to have a contrasting color to the ferns. Their treatment was airbrushing with a strip of ‘electric yellow’ up the middle and then bordered with ‘electric green’. But the little buggers sure were hard to paint because the air would blow them around! So my fingers are very, very green from holding them while painting. I also made a bowl of what I hope will look like moss when sprinkled in areas on my piece.
Here are the ingredients to make the golden butter sponge cake, my go-to for cake carving. And I just love my Fat Daddios pans. That coupled with this dense recipe yields a very flat cake!
I used is a 12×18″ pan to bake the cake. Using a serrated cake knife, I cut the sheet cake into 4 equal strips and stacked them on the board with layers of icing between.
The cake rested overnight, covered in plastic wrap, so it could settle before carving.
Here’s some cake cut away.
And here’s more cake cut away. I then crumbcoated it in icing before covering with fondant.
I covered the cake in fondant and textured the tree. It doesn’t look that great, but I have confidence in my airbrushing skills. I hope it adds the character I see in my mind.I also added some RKTs to build up terrain in other areas and covered in icing before adding fondant to the ground.
I covered the ground with fondant.
And here I airbrushed the tree — definitely an improvement over just the matte grey from before.
I added many of the elements I made for scenery, but there is much more to add.
Here’s the salamander I made — I placed him to be resting on the log. I sculpted him from modeling chocolate and airbrushed him to this juicy outcome.
I molded a bird out of fondant and painted him with petal dust for a signature chickadee look.I added moss to the tree, around the water feature and in other places, as well as a sparkly ribbon border to my base.I sculpted and painted a beetle, which lays at the front of the piece.For the water feature, I placed chocolate rocks and other things at the bottom. Then poured isomalt over them in two batches. I used my culinary torch to try and remove the air bubbles, but some were too deep to remove. When I got to the show and set up, I ‘freshened up’ the border around the feature to make it more seamless.
Closer pic
Side view
Top view
I want to thank ALL my friends and family who came out to the show or reached out to support me. I got second place. I received great marks from the judges and should be proud of what I accomplished moving up to the Advanced Division. But I am still disappointed. I was only three points behind the cake ahead of me and know I could have inched it out if I put more heart into this entry. If I enter again next year – I’m going BIGGER!