Beneath the Fondant: The Making of the Puss In Boots cake

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In my last blog entry I showed you my latest creation, the Puss In Boots floating cloud cake that I made for my niece’s 5th birthday. The two questions I get asked the most when I make a 3D cake like that are, “Is that edible?” and “How did you make that?” In this entry I hope to answer those questions for you and inspire you to make your own gravity-defying cake creation.

In case you forgot what the finished cake looked like, here is another picture of it:

Every cake I make begins with a sketch. I am the first to admit that I am not a great sketch artist. My sketches can be pretty sad but they are my quick attempt to get my ideas out of my brain and onto paper so that I can see if they are going to work. Here was my original sketch for the cake. You will notice that in the final cake I ended up switching the locations of Humpty Dumpty and Kitty Softpaws because I liked the way Humpty looked better on the left side than on the right.

After the sketch is complete I take my work to my husband and talk it through with him since he is the genius behind the structural supports. You can see his sketch up in the corner of my paper where he was showing me how he thought we could make the structure.

Once I knew we could do it, I figured out all the sizes I would need for everything and gave him my requests. He returned with cut boards and pipes installed. For the top part of the beanstalk, I took heavy gauged floral wires, including some Duff brand cake wire hooks, and shaped them then attached them all together with floral tape. The rest of the stand was made from 3/4″ threaded pipe (sometimes referred to as black pipe) and threaded surface mounts attached to the top of the baseboard and the bottom of the cake board. The pipes were screwed into the surface mounts. The pipe structure we used was made from parts we already had which is why you see the joints, but you can buy the pipe in various sizes so that you don’t have to use joints. The baseboard was cut from a old piece of countertop and the cake board was cut from 3/4″ pressboard (plywood will also work).

Here is what the constructed stand looked like without anything edible attached to it yet.

Of course, I had to deconstruct it to assemble the cake on it. I began by covering the cake board in foil so that it would make for easy clean up and I could reuse the board later. I then coated the top of the board with spray adhesive and covered it with a vinyl material that I found for a dollar in the fabric clearance bin at Walmart. Usually I cover my cake boards with fondant but this was a much cheaper option with this large board and it made it easy to pick the cake up for transporting because I didn’t have to worry about my fingers smashing the fondant. Plus, the vinyl was really easy to clean up when I got it dirty while decorating over it.

I then assembled the pipes and the cake board. I always make sure to cover any construction materials that come in contact with edible materials, so I covered the cake board in foil and the pipes in plastic wrap.

Now to begin the carving. I had previously made a cloud pattern on paper by using the oval pan I had baked the cakes in, as a guide for size. I made the pattern smaller than the pan so that I could make the cake angle in at the top and bottom. To do that I laid the pattern on top of one of the layers of cake and angled my knife so that the upper part of the knife was against the pattern and the tip reached out to the edges of the cake. This picture shows me just starting the carving.

Once I finished with one layer, I did the same with the second. I then laid them on top of each other, with the wider ends coming together. This made the middle of the cloud stick out farther then the top and bottom. In hindsight, I would have made the pattern even smaller so that there would have been even more of a distinction between the middle and top/bottom. When the two cakes were together, I continued carving and rounding out the sides to give it more of a rounded cloud look. The circle pieces you see in the cakes are from the heating cores I used in them while baking.

After I got the shape I wanted I used a round cutter to cut out a hole, in each of the cakes, where the beanstalk would go. This was so that I could slide it over the pipe onto my stand. I had marked on my pattern where that circle was to be placed so it made it easy for positioning it on the cake.

I then placed the cakes on the stand and filled them with some buttercream icing. I continued carving away at them to give them mounds on the top and make a flat area on which to lay the characters. Notice I covered the board with some paper towels for easy clean up.

Once I carved as much as I could, I decided that I wanted the bottom to be round and puffy like the top. Now normally I try to make as much edible as possible on my cakes but I got a little lazy and decided to use styrofoam balls for the bottom portion since it would be on a part of the cake that wouldn’t be eaten anyway. I would normally use Rice Krispy treats for something like that. I cut various sized balls in half and used some hot glue to attach them to the bottom of the cake board. If I had used Rice Krispy treats I would have used melted chocolate as my glue. I positioned the balls so that they stuck a little ways out from the edge of the board. This made a shelf that I could then take some modeling chocolate and form more rounded sides to the cloud.

Once I got the shape I wanted, I covered it in a layer of buttercream icing.

Then I covered it in fondant. Unfortunately I forgot to cover my cake board with paper towels while I was icing and fondanting the cake. It made a bit of a mess but luckily it cleaned up easily off the vinyl.

It was then time for the airbrush. I started with some blue airbrush color, mixed with some vodka to lighten it, and lightly shaded the cake. I then went back over the indents, and other spots that I felt needed it, and made them darker. I tried to envision the sun shining from the upper right side to help me visualize where the shadows should go. Once the blue dried I covered the whole cake with Super Pearl Dust mixed with vodka. The Super Pearl gave it a light sparkle, which you can’t really see in the pictures.

It was then time to build the beanstalk. I started to get really busy at this point so I forgot to take many pictures. I used the wire structure that I showed you at the beginning of the blog. To attach it inside the pipe I cut some strips of styrofoam and stuffed them in the pipe then slid the wire into the styrofoam and hot glued it all in place. I covered the cooled glue with plastic wrap and then used modeling chocolate and started molding it around the wires. I took a veining tool and used it to make lines in the chocolate. The leaves were made my rolling out the modeling chocolate thin and using an exacto knife to cut out leaf shapes and then adding lines in them with the veining tool. I attached them using some melted chocolate on the undersides of the leaves and stuck them to the wires that were sticking out. Here is what the finished top of the beanstalk looked like.

I needed to fill out the bottom of the beanstalk so I decided not to be lazy (this was a new day) and make a batch of Rice Krispy treats. I wrapped the treats around the plastic wrap covered pipe and shaped it into the width I wanted.

I then covered it with the rest of my modeling chocolate and continued adding lines with my veining tool.

It was done, aside from adding the characters, so I added some orange ribbon to the sides of the baseboard then put it in the refrigerator overnight to get nice and firm. I covered the modeling chocolate with plastic wrap so that I wouldn’t have to worry about condensation forming on the beanstalk. It just barely fit into my refrigerator. In fact, it didn’t fit when I had the crisper drawers in it so I had to take those out and then stack up styrofoam underneath it to make a shelf for it to set on.

The next day I attached the figures with a dab of melted chocolate and we were on our way to the party. It was an hour long drive but the cake didn’t sway a bit. I think it was probably the most solid 3D cake I have made so far.

Next week I will give you instructions on how I made the chocolate Puss in Boots and Humpty Dumpty.

Until next time, God Bless and Sweet Dreams.

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  1. Here’s a loose/literal “google translate” version of those comments, for our non-Spanish speakers:

    Really beautiful, I took the stress did not know how, it’s a great idea and thanks for sharing, congratulations is a great idea, thanks for sharing

  2. thankyou sooooo much for posting this amazing tutorial, i stumbled across your site while googling internal cake structures, as im just about to start venturing into the gravity defying cakes!
    you have made it seem sooooo much more achievable!

    thankyou for sharing your talents!

    1. You are welcome Zarlene. Good luck with your endeavors. It is so fun to make cakes that leave people asking “How did they do that??”

  3. Thank you so much for brief definition. It was very helpful and I learned a lot new from this tutorial

  4. I was wondering if the fondant will get humid when place in refrigerator. This is one of my fears. Even if I have the time to finish the cake one day ahead I wait for the day of order to finish it. (stressful) Thanks.

    1. Hi Carmen, I have never had a problem with that. I also live in a very dry environment though. If it is really hot out I will sometimes remove it from the refrigerator to a cool room first, just to help it adjust to the temperature change before moving on into the warmer environment. If I have airbrushed the cake I am always very careful not to touch it once it comes out of the fridge until I am sure it has had plenty of time to dry again completely. If I were you I would do a test cake, maybe make a small fondant covered cake and try refrigerating it to see if you have any problems.

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