Cake Show – Octopus

In March 2012, I entered a cake competition for the first time ever – the National Capital Area Cake Show on March 24/25. I decided to enter just one category for my division, Sculpted Cakes. I have a particular love of octopus and ambitiously created one out of cake and sugar stuffs.

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

UPDATE: This cake won 1st prize in its divisional category.

Galvanized wire, cut in roughly 13” pieces. I started making 10 octopus arms so I could ditch the worst two when it was time to assemble the cake. (You never know what could happen along the way…)
Using pliers, I bent the wires into different curvy patterns that could represent the fluidity of octopus arms.
Here they are… the 10 arms covered in RKTs. (That’s cake talk for Rice Krispy Treats). I let them set up for at least a day or two before I covered them with fondant.
Some arms covered in fondant
Here are the tentacles (8 + 1 extra)… two still need to be covered in fondant, two are plain, the other 5 have been airbrushed with their first color.
FINALLY! All the tentacles (plus one extra) are covered in fondant.
  I cut out suckers in three different sizes and using modeling tools I imprinted the middles and tried to spread them so they appear more transitional as you move your way down (or up) the tentacle.
I finished airbrushing the tentacles with their first color and covering all nine (8 + 1 extra) with suckers.
  Here’s a photo of the under-side of a few tentacles. The suckers will be painted with gold luster dust, so it matters little that some airbrush colors will hit them.
  I airbrushed the tentacles with orange and red over the yellow. I have to wear a mask when airbrushing to keep from inhaling rogue paint. In this photo, I’m putting some painters tape over some suckers just to try and minimize their exposure to airbrushed colors.
I wanted a custom cake board, so I drew a sort-of obscure pattern on a 24×24” piece of wood for my husband to cut out. My entry is limited to an 18×18” base, so I made sure to draw within my limit. I bordered it with a sequined ribbon to give it pizazz and since the whole board will be covered with an edible ‘sand’ I’m going to make to represent the sea floor, you shouldn’t see any of the white come through.
I played around with the orientation of the tentacles and concluded which of the extra arms was not going to make the cut.
  Time for the third (and final) coat of super gold luster dust! I painted all suckers with another coat to even out their appearance. For those who don’t know, you mix luster dust with vodka to paint on fondant. The vodka dries clear, leaving you with a smooth shimmery awesomeness.
  One of the front tentacles, shining with its golden glory.
I love my Fat Daddio’s pans. They bake cake perfection! I baked two 12×18 cakes to be stacked and carved. Doing some sketches, I figured out how to cut them to get the starting shape I was looking for. I cut the 18” length in half and the 12” across at the 8” mark. When stacked, this one cake will yield three 9×8 layers. Two together with some filling totals roughly 9x8x7.
And here they are stacked! Measures approx. 9” long, 8” wide and 7” tall. There has to be an octopus in here somewhere… After baking/filling/stacking, I wrapped the cake up so it could settle overnight. (Cake is very heavy. And to minimize wrinkles and cracks in your fondant, you want a sculpted cake to settle down before you cover it.)
Carving Before/After. Check out the transformation!
Here are some photos of my carving in process…
I placed the tentacles around the octopus and carved out niches for them to sit just right
I first crumbcoated the cake in buttercream, which helps the fondant adhere to the cake. I then covered the cake in fondant and placed the tentacles in temporarily to ensure the fondant of the body would set exactly where I needed it to. I then pulled the arms back out to airbrush the body.
Here is the octopus with all needed airbrushing and the tentacles placed in their final position.
Hand-painted octopus eyes… I think they turned out pretty neat. Just need to wait for them to dry before placing in the cake.
Edible sand! The sand is made of 5 foods: light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, crushed nilla wafers, crushed peanuts, and a small amount of crushed chocolate cookie pieces.
Assemble everything and it’s done!
 Here’s my cake at the show… waiting to be judged. : )
This cake won 1st prize in its divisional category. I could not have been more thrilled with the outcome, especially for my first competition. Maybe I will enter again next year 😉