A Day in the Life of a Cake

After reading about the Threadcakes contest (which I *will* be entering this year!), and the contest rules about taking multiple pictures of the cake making process, I thought it would be a great idea to start taking more “in-progress” photos of Sweet Element cakes to show how cakes are made.  I know some people may think that it’s a crazy “secret-giving-away” thing to do, but I don’t think that there are any “secrets” to keep.  Cake designing, making & decorating is usually a lot of fun and definitely a lot of WORK.  Like with any other artistic endeavor, it’s a process that requires constant learning, which sometimes involves mistakes, and many times involves reworking and problem solving on the fly.

This first “tell-all” cake was made for a the graduation party of a friend, who as you might guess is a huge Linux fan.  A few years ago I surprised him with a 2D Linux cake for his birthday, and I figured he would definitely love a 3D Tux cake now that my decorating skills have progressed just a lil’ 😉

This first photo shows the stacked & buttercreamed “base-cake”, which was comprised of three individual cakes that were alternating layers of yellow & devil’s food cake filled and frosted with vanilla moussaline buttercream.  Next time I’ll have to remember to take a picture of the three individual cakes prior to stacking & carving, to give you a better idea of the whole process!

Once I had the basic structure assembled, I took a look at some reference materials I had on Tux and decided he needed a little fattening up & also a tail, so I took some white modeling chocolate, sculpted a penguin “beer-belly” & tail and added them to the base cake.

Once the more rotund Tux was well chilled, I gave him a black fondant shell, white fondant belly, fondant eyes, and added some black modeling chocolate arms.  The first beak shown here was made of rice crispy treats that was covered in fondant.

Well, as you can see, that first beak just didn’t work out. With the insane humidity lately, I wasn’t confident that the lil’ guy would keep that beak on from my studio to the party in Manhattan, so I opted for a little reconstructive surgery & a foam beak, which was much lighter & made me feel a lot less nervous about a delivery disaster.

Ok, so I skipped a *lot* of other photo ops, but I was trying to get this guy done quickly so I could get him back in the fridge to chill for delivery.  His beak & feet are foam covered in a mix of modeling chocolate & fondant.

Here’s good ol’ Tux hanging out for the day in Jay’s Madison Ave. office 🙂

And here he is after a grueling 4 block walk over to Butterfield 8, where he hung out at a table right by the front window.  It was so humid, that the gumpaste mortarboard I had fully dried out was a little wilty as soon as I put it on (at this point I was REALLY happy I opted to change out his original beak!).  The original tassels didn’t survive the trip, but I had brought some black modeling chocolate with me and made a new one right there in the bar.

The happy grad & his Tux cake, complete with mortarboard & tassels.

Tux at happy hour with the rest of us having a Stella & some bacon covered scallops 😀

As cute as he was, Tux was there to be eaten! I thought it would be fitting for Larry to be given the head since it was his party & all.

And here he is digging in! It’s always nice to hear people compliment the flavor of the actual cake, which happened a number of times at this party. My favorite compliment was from someone who came up to me and admitted that they normally don’t even like cake – but they had multiple slices of lil’ ol Tux because he was so tasty!


4 responses to “A Day in the Life of a Cake

  1. That cake is too cute! I actually think it looks good with the slightly floppy mortarboard. Tux isn’t the straight-laced type, after all…

  2. What size pans did you use? When you say 3 cakes, does that mean 6 layers made into 3 cakes?

    Your cake looks great. I’d like to make one as a groom’s cake for my son.

    Thanks!

    • Usually when I make sculpted cakes like this, I bake 2-3″ sheetcakes (12×18) and cut the sizes I need out of them. And yes, there were 6 layers made into 3 cakes. Best of luck on making your very own penguin cake!

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