Hello, blog! I haven’t written in my blog for a few months now.
I meant to make a blog about my splatter cake, but time got away from me. This is what I have been up to:
But what I really want to write about is my Hotel Transylvania cake that I just finished!
I am so proud of this cake and it took a lot of work, to say the least. It’s not often that someone is willing to pay you to make such a detailed cake. All these characters take a lot of planning, time, and work. I looked at the Hotel Transylvania cakes that were on Google and none of them particularly caught my eye. Some were pretty good, but they just weren’t all the way “there”, if you know what I mean.
I went back and forth with my new client — a friend of my brother’s — about her budget, what she liked and didn’t like about other cakes, and I came up with a sketch. It’s a very basic sketch, that’s for sure, but it really helps to get a visual. And when you have a sketch, it’s easier to look at it, pick it apart, and come up with a plan. Luckily for me, she LOVED it.
MAKING THE CHARACTERS (a disappointingly basic description):
From there, I was going to wait to start the characters, buuuut … I get a little too excited. We had a huge blizzard come through, so I started my characters. I was just too excited!
I’m not going to go into great detail about how I did this because it really is involved, but you can get an idea. First, I make my character shapes out of gumpaste. This is so my fondant has a nice, solid base.I needed these to be able to stand up against my cake and not be wobbly at all.
Then, I slowly built everything up. It is sort of like “dressing” your fondant. I went thick on the parts that were layered underneath and went thin on things like fabric, so that they would REALLY look like fabric.
My kids were watching a lot of Hotel Transylvania videos on YouTube, and that’s when I discovered baby Dennis from the second movie. Sooooo … Even though he wasn’t included in my price quote … OR in my sketch … I decided that since I was so good on time, I was going to make him anyway.
He also has a super creepy cake with skulls on it in Hotel Transylvania 2 and a little monster with a candle head. I changed out the “6” eventually, because the little girl whom the cake is for was turning 5, not 6. I made it a “1” like in the movie.
Since Dennis’ head was so heavy with all that hair, I had to let his head dry separately. The body above was eventually tossed because the weight of the head smooshed down his body. I made a fresh body out of gumpaste/fondant mixture to better support the weight of the head. And I kept it separate until the body was completely hard.
I added my face details with AmeriColor edible markers. I used Wilton white for white highlights in the eyes. Petal dust was used to give their cheeks some color. Black petal dust was used to give everything depths and shadows. Above is everything that I made ahead of time for my cake.
BAKING the CAKE
Baking my cake is actually one of the VERY last things that I do. Gumpaste and fondant decorations can be made well ahead of time — thank God for that — because I get anxious and procrastinating is NOT my thing.
I bake and froze my favorite three-layer buttercake with mini chocolate chips and a 6″ funfetti cake. I baked that in two layers and torted them. This is a nice, soft white cake, so I used my Wilton leveler. I decided that four layers was too tall, so we got to enjoy the extra layer. Yum!
I wrap my cakes in plastic wrap and then in tin foil. To prevent the beautiful layers getting warped in the freezer or taking on the shape of my freezer floor or racks, I freeze them on cake boards.
People sometimes ask me what I like better — baking or decorating. I honestly love BOTH. I take the baking aspect VERY seriously. I love using quality ingredients, too. King Arthur Flour, Domino Sugar, and Nielsen Massey vanilla really bring the taste of my cakes to the next level.
RECIPES: King Arthur Golden Vanilla Cake
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
Are you still here? Good. Let’s put this cake together.
First thing I had to do, the Monday before the cake was due, was cover my board in black fondant. This really brings the whole look and feel of the cake together. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and they are paying good money for this cake, so I did this THREE TIMES. Ugh!
It is an 8″ cake, but I used a 14″ base to give me plenty of room for all my decorations and my birthday message (Happy 5th Birthday Ava).
Whatevs, you know I love it.
A new trick that I learned from the Royal Bakery Facebook page is to glue an extra board on the bottom of your cake. This way, you’re not struggling to get your fingers under the cake to move it around. Other people use the self-adhesive pads that you put on the bottom of chair legs. Either way — genius!
I was a little nervous about the background of my cake. I wanted it to look like a sunset with a full moon. I chose some of my favorite AmeriColors and tested it out to see if it would work. This is also when I got the idea to make black grass — after all, when the sun is setting, grass looks dark and black. The idea was it to be silhouetted grass. Of course, this meant to have to plan to have enough black buttercream both for the top of my cake AND for piping grass.
My first day of putting together involved filling and buttercream. I decided on my favorite Decorator’s Buttercream from Toba Garrett’s book “Professional Cake Decorating”. It makes a five pound batch! And for the filling, we went with chocolate buttercream. I made a double batch of my favorite recipe from Savory Sweet Life. Change to the recipe: I use half regular Hershey’s cocoa and half Dutch processed cocoa.
I’ll tell you a secret … Which is unwise, because I have a lot of competition, but whatever, I am just so generous … When I incorporate my sugar into my buttercream, I add everything all at once. That’s right, ALL AT ONCE. This saves on time and effort. AND when you add everything at one time, less air is incorporated in. How do I not make a mess? I cover my mixer with two sheets of cellophane wrap.
So I beat my butter and Crisco for a while, add my vanilla, meringue powder and salt, beat it again, then I add all my heavy whipping cream and sugar, wrap it all up, and set it rip. See below:
From there, I filled my cakes. I make a dam with my white frosting from a number 22 Wilton tip. Then I did a bit of a crumb coat, PLUS I sprayed it with something called Spray and Seal by Wilton, which is basically coconut oil in a can. It really helps eliminate crumbs.
I put my cakes back in the fridge. I made five bowls of icing at this point.
I was sure to reserve some of my chocolate icing so that I could make some black buttercream. This is why I made a DOUBLE batch of chocolate. See where the planning comes in? The rest of the bowls were of my vanilla.
Going to my original source material from the movie, I made my colors.
This is something I learned how to do from a Crafty class by CorrieCakes. I really recommend this class: http://www.craftsy.com/instructors/corrie_rasmussen.
To make my ombre effect, I filled my piping bags with the three colors that I wanted on my 8″ cake. I didn’t use any tip for this. I covered the top of my cake as I normally would with my spatula. From there, I sort of haphazardly went around, working from the bottom to the top. I had to be careful to save some of the top blue because I needed it for my 6″ cake. After it was all filled in, I smoothed it out with my spatula, being careful to clean it in between each time around. I didn’t want to muddle up my colors too much.
Then I did this again for my 6″ cake:
I let this rest in the fridge overnight.
The first thing I did was attach my 8″ cake to my board using some glue. I don’t have a picture of that because I had my hands full!
When you make tiered cakes, you need dowel rods, especially if they are going to travel. This cake is going to travel 45 minutes, so I had to make sure it was put together well.
I decided on five dowel rods to hold up the 6″ cake. I measure beside my cake and mark with pencil. I use a clamp called a “vice” to hold my rods in place and a coping saw to saw them neatly. My husband used to do this for me, but now I know how to do it all on my own.
Along with the rods, I also put some buttercream in between the two cakes to “glue” them together. I use my cake lifter to detach my cake from the board it was resting on, so I don’t have to pick it up with my hands and ruin my buttercream.
After that, I measure how tall the entire cake is, make a center dowel rod, sharpen it, and stick it through the entire cake. There was a ready-made hole in the bottom of the cake board supporting my 6″ cake, so I didn’t have to pound it through.
Yes! The hardest part is over!
The first thing I did was add “stars” by speckling with some white dust. Then I cleaned my board and stuck on my characters using extra buttercream.
The 3D characters and cake and 5 have toothpicks in them to help them stay put on the cake, but I still put some black buttercream underneath as glue. This is also when I glued my character’s heads on the way that I wanted with some hot glue.
After that, I glued on my trees with extra buttercream.
Then, using some extra black buttercream, I made my grass around the cake. I actually put both black and dark purple buttercream in my bag because I wasn’t sure if I had enough black.
Next, I placed my birthday message on the board, spaced it out nicely, and glued it on with some water.
THEN I attached the graves on the cake, and added more grass.
After that, I made the moon out of white fondant with a circle cutter and dusted it with black petal dust to make it look real. I also gave Dennis a black cape. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do this, but I had the time, so I threw it on there.
From there, it was picture time. I was DONE.
Did I mention that annoying perfectionist thing? I discovered when I was looking at my pictures that I was NOT done, because I had forgotten to add white highlights to the eyes of my three main characters (Johnny, Dracula, and Mavis). So, I took it back out of the fridge and fixed that up. I also dusted and cleaned up my trees, and added more dust to the cheeks that seemed to have come off.
THEN I was done.
In the end, I LOVE this cake. It came out so much better than I had ever imagined. My customer is super happy with it, very excited, and cannot wait to pick it up.
Because I am SUPER professional, and sort of a pain-in-the-ass, I have it stored in our extra fridge. This is our “cake and beer fridge,” as I like to call it. I LOVE having this extra fridge, because I can rest easy knowing my cake is away from my kids and away from the other smells of our regular fridge. Plus, we just don’t have room in our fridge!
Well, there you have it! It was months in the making and I am so glad that I had the chance to make it. I sort of lost count of how many hours it took me to make this cake! I think it must have taken me about 12 hours total. Yikes!
If you have any questions, just leave them here for me or on my Facebook page.