The Pirate’s Bounty

I was very excited with this project. I have not made many cakes for men or boys, and when I was asked for a birthday cake for a four-year-old boy, I had to do it. Betty had a clear idea as to how the cake should look, and we went back and forth with the designs. It is very comforting when a customer provides you with swatches and mood boards as to how she would like the cake to go with the entire set up of the party or event. But the best part about it, is being able to make the suggestion of the cake with the ideas in your head and having the customer trust your instincts and judgement with the cake design. It’s a little confidence boost I must say 🙂

Betty specified the cake is to have a pirate theme, and so my thoughts literally sailed. There was definitely going to be a pirate ship cake topper, and I suggested a pirate’s map, a cake tier decorated like a barrel, and lastly a treasure chest at the bottom.

I remembered a few months ago when I came across McGreevy Cakes’ ship cake topper, and I instantly gravitated towards pictures of it as inspiration (link: http://www.mcgreevycakes.com/2014/02/20/3310/). Shawna created such a stunning piece that I thought I’d give it a good go (even though it’ll be no where as supercalifragilisticexpialidocious-ly awesome as hers). I had been through a week where I just could not bring myself to do any work, and I was procrastinating making this ship topper. Somewhere in me just told me I had to do it, and so I did – it doesn’t have as much detail in it as I would have liked, but you could look at it and say it’s a pirate ship 🙂

PicMonkey ship topper

Have I told you how much I love modelling chocolate? As much fondant can be very versatile which I used because I didn’t have enough modelling chocolate, modelling chocolate works so well in such circumstances as I needed parts of it to be firm yet allows me time to work on it without drying and cracking up on me.  In this particular project, I find that it takes up the colour of the luster so beautifully as well, which reminds me to find a new project to work with only modelling chocolate. I didn’t have wafer paper to make the sails, so I made do with using rice paper which worked a treat. I used black colour gel to paint the letter J and the skull, something tells me that I may have painted on the wrong side – the matte, or the shiny side?

And with this project finished, I have leftover paper to play with wafer paper flowers which is trending at the moment; modern wedding cakes adorned with this thin and almost translucent beauties, and it is a breath of fresh air in comparison to gum paste flowers which I still love.

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Loving the Old English font on the letter J – who knew it’ll be easy to write without stencils!

I was going to go for a cake tier with a map draped over it, but after much thought and little experience with icing sheets and edible images, I decided not to proceed with it. Instead, I decided to airbrush the tier to make it look like aged paper and then draw elements of a pirate’s map. This was the exciting part of the cake – you start to brainstorm as to what do you draw on a map. And I have a little guide hehe:

  • Always have an “X” that marks the spot – like come on, there’s the whole point we have a map, to find the ultimate bounty!
  • You will need an impressive ship, that’s the whole point of a pirate’s map yeah?
  • Have islands, big and small. And have coconut trees drawn on those islands
  • You need big and scary sea monsters that will terrorize your pirate ship
  • You need whirlpools
  • You will need a compass, you don’t want to turn the wrong way now do you?
  • And you need dolphins. Like cute dolphins. Every sea has a silver lining, in this case, fun loving dolphins.

pirate map tier

The second barrel tier was made with fairly thick pieces of fondant to mimic wood. Texturing the wooden pieces was crucial in making the wood look realistic, and I achieved that with pasta cutter, knife, a dresden tool. I was excited to be using my Dinky Doodle airbrush for this project to give it a more realistic look, and it is by far an impressive tier that I ever made.

The treasure chest was made by covering red fondant over the cake which many people shudder, then applying black strips of fondant as the frame of the chest. Gold studs were made with dry brushing gold lister to black fondant chips. To add depth, I added black and brown petal dust to provide dark and almost Pirate of the Carribean mood. This gave me a new found respect for petal dust in cake decorating – it’s such a learning curve and I can’t wait to use it more often in the future.

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By the time the cake was completed, it was a massive cake to carry. In fact, I was worried sick that I’ll drop it. I did have chocolate gold coins to embellish the chest tier which I constantly reminded myself to bring it with me before I left home, but silly me completely forgot about it when I reached the venue! Nevertheless, Betty was very pleased with it, and it gives us cake decorators great satisfaction when you’ve delivered on the cake design and they said you’ve nailed it. And I think the boys may have given it a thumbs up when they saw the cake too!

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With each cake that you make, you find yourself learning a bit more each time, and I surely learned so much on this project. I make a mental note to myself to know what are the learning outcomes that I have achieved, and it gives me a sense of gratification when I have mastered the techniques.

I learned that an airbrush can be your friend once you’ve mastered it, it’s all in the control of the pressure. And petal dusts are an important tool for a cake decorator, you definitely do not want to be without it.

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