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! 


  1. Very funny post and an amazing cake. I love the step by step photos!

  2. Absolutely FANTASTIC cake! I can totally appreciate all the time, effort, and frustration that went into it so great job! :) I'm going to "like" your entry right now. Good luck!

  3. Just found your blog through Melanie at Cake Walk... WOW! This cake is AMAZING!! I wanted to participate in ThreadCakes this year, but my schedule just wouldn't allow it. I will certainly 'LIKE' your cake!!

  4. You are hilarious. When I read the line ' 1 metric shit-ton.' I decided to follow your blog immediately, then come back and read the rest. The cake is awesome and I bow down to your cake building awesomeness!

  5. Oh and you absofrigginlutely got my vote!

  6. I just found our blog too from Melanie at Cake Walk and WOW!!!! I love your cakes and i'm so impressed that you even do your own structure!! I'm so lousy at these diy stuff! Can i ask you questions next time if i have questions about such structural issues? do i go about "Liking" your cake?

  7. Hi faithy! So glad you like my blog! You are certainly welcome to ask about structure, though I don't know that I'd call myself an expert... yet. :)

    To 'like my cake' click on the link at the end of my post 'My Threadcakes Entry' and you should see a like button on the left side. Thanks!

  8. it!! Found the "like" button. I've voted for you!

  9. Roxanne, you are incredible. I love the way you're working your way up the ladder of cake decorating expertise by doing what you need to do when you think it needs to be done (experimenting, taking classes when they come around, and everything else!). I've been a big fan ever since I "favorited" your blog after the high heels (one of which I'll be attempting for my granddaughter's birthday cake in a couple of weeks), and I'm continually blown away by the things you do. These penguins and the polar bear are to die for, and the gumpaste flowers from your August 1st blog are terrific, too. I'm sure Nicholas Lodge will be looking to hire you any day now. Are you sure you still want to be a graduate student (just kidding)!

  10. WOW! This cake is amazing!!! And super cute to boot! If i found it sooner i so would have voted for you! i just found your blog through Mel's Cake walk too and your work is really incredible!

    The structure is quite brilliant and i loved seeing the whole process. And your comments are totally amusing as well. I totally agree with you on the rice krispie treats. I'm in NYC and we have the same problem in the summer, it's so i feel your pain. :)

    Keep up the fabulous work! :)

  11. These cakes are truly AWESOME! You and Lola should come and visit us and Cousin Bentley. PS -- Bring cake. Love, Gloglo and Jojo

  12. Love your "garden of flowers". I'm personally betting on you getting first place in the Threadcakes contest. That cake was awesome! I'd be delighted to hear about what you think the relationship between engineering and cake decorating is.

  13. Hi! Have NO idea how blogs work! :-p
    BUT if there's a way to private message you I haven't figured that out yet... I am really interested to know how you covered the bear in fondant! How would I ask you these questions? SHould I post them here or leave you my email? Thanks so much in advance!

  14. Congratulation... simply beautiful, amazing, great, great job... soon I will see you on tv... that is for sure!...

  15. That is definitely a boat load of cake used there! Great job. I loved your step by step instructions. It was good research for my first armature cake I hope to try this month. Keep it up!