Making a Cake Structure

When I started my cake business, one of my greatest achievements is to see the smiling faces of the recipients when they look at their cakes that I made. Even when there were nights that I pulled all-nighters, that smile just melts away the fatigue, and there is this warm sense of triumph that swells from within me. And this is one of the reasons why I am so proud to have been able to work with Cake Angels for the last couple of years.

Cake Angels is a not-for-profit charity who organises cakes for sick children and their family. Its participants consists of volunteers from hobbyists and decorators, like me, who offer a cake to celebrate a special occasion. It is gratifying to be able to contribute, to make a day special for these kids when there are other stresses in life such as finances or a terminal illness which is overwhelming.

I want to share this cake project that I made for Grace, who turned two, loves the colours pink and purple, and loves the animated television character Hey Duggee.

I love making these cakes because I can make it extra special, so I decided instead of making a tiered cake, I wanted to make Duggee come to life. So, why not make an actual Duggee out of cake?

The reason I like to make cakes in 3D is because it gives an impact on the recipient and guests at the party. But there are a few important things to have before making them. Most internal structures for cakes often require the basic necessities of threaded rods, nuts, washers, and always keeping the structure food safe so no bare metal is in contact with cake.

Over the years I have bought a few things to get this structure ready, so you’ll need threaded rods and corresponding sizes of locking nuts, washers, and nuts; hacksaw to cut the rods to the right length; wrenches to tighten the nuts; power drill of course to drill through cake boards. Planning comes to play now – how many guests will be at the party? How big can this cake be? How wide is the cake board going to be? How thick do I need my threaded rods to be? How much cake do I bake to achieve the right height? After planning all of that, it’s on to cutting the rods, drilling the holes in the boards, tightening the nuts, placing the cake boards, etc. The base of the cake was made with a few pieces of foam core boards, stuck together. The other option would be to use rice krispies treats, but I prefer it this way.

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As you can see, I have one threaded rod that is longer than the other. The longer one was used as central dowel to hold the cake together. I cover my internal structures with aluminium foil tape to protect the metal from coming into contact with cake.

I use a spirit level to ensure the board is level, that it’s not tilted to one side nor is it tilted forwards or backwards. This will be crucial when it comes to delivering the cake to avoid disasters, and also it looks awkward if your character isn’t standing upright!

I prepared the board earlier so that it has time to set and be firm, so that I can work on the cake without needing to fuss around with decorating the board. Alternatively, covering the board with contact paper is also a great option.

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Cake was stacked to the height of Duggee. I always have a printed template to the right enlargement of the character so I know what is the exact height that I want to achieve.

In this photo, you’ll notice that the board was covered in Glad wrap so I can carve the cake and ganache without leaving a trail of destruction all over the cake board, and it still looks clean! You’ll also notice that the foam core board has been carved to fit the shape of Duggee, so it’s a win-win for using foam core without the mess of making rise krispies treat!

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Entire cake, including the foam core was covered in ganache. This helps in ensuring the shape is not compromised where the cake and board is at.

Once the cake is ganached, the fun part comes of covering the cake in fondant. Kids can be brutal (if you know what I mean), and they can spot if a hair is out of joint on a character. To help me with ensuring everything is in proportion, I always refer to my template for measurements, because it also helps in planning amounts of a certain colour fondant that’s required.

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Marking the cake where Duggee’s uniform is. This keeps the cake in proportion to the actual character.

This step of decorating is the most arduous, but once you have all the proportions right, everything falls into place. And what you’re left, is a beautiful character that is exactly the same as what the kid sees on the television or the mobile device.

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Finished Duggee!

When I delivered the cake to Grace, her mum Ally was speechless. And when Grace looked at the cake, she knew it was Duggee right away, and I knew my job was done! They had the reaction that I feel most proud of from making a cake. Thank you again to Kellie from Cake Angels for letting me be a part of it, and I am so grateful to Ally for allowing me to make something special for Grace. x

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