Monday, July 26, 2010

Penguins on Holiday-- My Threadcakes Entry!

I really wanted to do a 3D cake.  So when I found out about the Threadcakes online competition (you can still enter till August 14!), I saw my opportunity. You can see my entire entry here:

The planning stages of this monstrous cake began weeks ago when I chose my inspiration Threadless T-shirt design, called Penguins on Holiday.  While the rules of the competition are such that they want minimal inedible/ non-cake material in your cake, to do a cake of this scale with the polar bear standing on his two itty-bitty legs with huge arms waving in the air, I was going to have to build some structure.

 My Schematic :)

Some real engineering right there.  Swim goggles and all.

 My structure and iceberg templates.

 Once I made the structure and the iceberg templates, I figured out how much cake I would need.  My answer: 1 metric shit-ton.  No, seriously, I made 8 recipes of carvable chocolate cake, 1 recipe of Paula Deen's Pound Cake, and 1 recipe of Carlo's Cream Cheese Pound Cake.

My fridge.  And I don't even think that was all of it:

I had all the baking done by Thursday morning, and I began construction Thursday night.  I worked all day (10 AM- 2 AM) Friday, all day Saturday (9 AM- 2:30 AM), and Sunday 9AM-3:30 PM.  And I had invited people for 4 to come help eat it... talk about down to the wire.

I started by carving the icebergs, and carefully counting out where all the layers for the penguins were going to come from, and cutting those out using a 4" cake ring and various sized circle cutters.

I even try to keep my cakes level.  Yes, I have a level dedicated strictly to cake.
After carving out the icebergs and carefully setting aside the circles, I crumb coated all the icebergs.  Thank god for my auxiliary beer/ icing/ cake fridge:

At this point I thought about scaling down, as it seemed that my one iceberg was pretty much the size of the entire Antarctic continent.

Next came the bear:

Finally, late Friday night, I got to the cereal treats for the bear's bottom.  Now, if you watch cake shows, you see these damn things defying gravity all willy nilly.  But let me assure you, in Georgia, in July, those things are not excited about staying put, upside down.  I spent 3 hours with my hands in a bear's butt, trying to get those blasted things to stay put.  I finally succeeded.

Saturday Morning= Sweet Success.

Now, not everything in this cake went smoothly.  I learned a lot, and there are few things I would have done differently.  But one thing I felt I did brilliantly was cover the bear's body in fondant. 

Next, I made up some isomalt for the 'water' on the board.  By the way... isomalt... EXPENSIVE.  FYI.  But I was thrilled with the effect:

Added a 2nd color:
Pretty neat, right?

Here's the rest of my Saturday:

And the penguins slowly came to life:

Then I had to start a few of the pieces that needed drying time, like this hat, and I passed out exhausted.

Sunday morning, breakfast, and resume construction.

You can see some of my gumpaste pieces drying there.  If I had to do over, I would have made back-ups of more pieces.  But at 2 AM it didn't seem that important. ;)

Shortly after this pic was taken was when the penguins decided that Georgia in July wasn't exactly an optimal climate for them (as much as I try to A/C my apartment.)  After a few hours, I realized my 1 AM decision to not include structure in the penguins was also a bad one, since the penguins were slightly tilted when I placed them, causing their 5 layers to start sliding on the real buttercream made with real butter, which in retrospect was also not the best idea.  Oh well-- I had to do an emergency doweling on one penguin before my guests arrived, but because of the Threadcakes rules, I had been trying to minimize my structural materials.  But what do they know about Georgia in July... ;)

I can haz wingz???

And then there were beaks.  And accessories!  I love penguin fashion.  

And don't you just love this little bow on her hat?

Does my butt look big in this picture?? ;)

I'm bringing sexy back.  With my fanny pack... 

Some blue posterboard to help the pictures look better....  My final touch on the cake was the blue ribbon around the board.  Well, until I had to rescue Ms. Penguin.

I love this pic, except that you can't see that the bear is standing on two precariously small legs.

 Did I mention I was thrilled with my isomalt?

Ahh, there we go.  Precariously small legs. :)

For my contest entry, I had to show the cake being cut and eaten.  So I invited some friends to come help me with my metric shit-ton of cake. 

Here I am with my masterpiece:

Lola wanted to see what was up:

And alas, we had to make some cuts...

I'm either a spinal surgeon or a back-stabber.


One of my guests was even wearing a Threadless T-Shirt!  How cool is that?

All in all, I was really pleased.  Especially when my friends walked in the door (directly in front of the cake) and asked, so where's the cake?  'You're looking at it.'  :)  

One little favor, all my wonderful readers... if you like my cake, could you please go look at my entry and 'like' it (you know, facebook style)?   I don't think it counts on the voting, but you never know...

Thank you!