Twitter Gone Haywire

29 Nov

Birdhouses are so cute, aren’t they? Little homes for little critters. Someone’s mamma thought so, too, so he asked me to make one in cake-complete with critter. Armed with wild ideas and a Wilton house pan, I set forth to create mamma’s passion in cake-despite the horrible heat and humidity and a great lack of central air. The last part’s gonna be important. Remember it and be kind, k?

You can find the pan here:

http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?id=3E3191DF-475A-BAC0-53BA3BD42B6F8C98&killnav=1

I made 4 houses and skewered them mightily to a double layered covered foam core board base. Yes, 4 houses. I wanted it to be square shaped and that takes 4 houses. Now you know why they were skewered mightily. So great did I skewer that the delivery sheet included a diagram for removal.

Everywhere there’s an arrow, there’s a skewer and they were all inserted at an angle and had to be pounded into the board below, with the exception of the one in the birdhouse door. Don’t put the birdhouse door skewer in just yet, though. We’ll do that later. Each house was torted and filled with cream cheese icing, and then the houses were glued together with more cream cheese icing. The whole shebang was then iced in cream cheese icing. Do you get the feeling cream cheese icing is important to the tale? That’s ‘cause it is.  Back to the cake:  I think that’s all you need to know before we get started on the décor. If not, holla’.

Once the cake is upright and sturdy, find a round object the size that you want the “hole” to be and press it into the cake to mark the area. Dig it out as much as needed.

From here, we start with the fondant. You will need white, teal, yellow, orange, and lilac fondant.  I made a mistake which I often make when adding gum-tex to fondant. I added it when the fondant was in the liquid stage instead of kneading it in once all the powdered sugar is added. This creates clumps. I dunno why, but is shore do. However, no problemo for this cake. It just adds to the authenticity of the wood look I’m creating. If you don’t like that look, add the gum-tex at the proper time.

Roll out the white fondant. Cut a circle the approximate size of the hole you created and stick it in there. It will get messed up, but do it anyway. I hate to muck up something alone. When that’s ready, compare your pan to the actual cake to check for size and then cut out 2 pieces of white fondant for the front and back using the pan as a guide. Mark the top and bottom edge of your pieces for even lines. Using a straight edged something that’s food safe, press board lines into the fondant. Now it’s ready to be applied to the cake. Expect the fondant to stretch. Just get it onto the cake the best you can and trim as needed. Press the fondant into the bird hole and smooth ‘til pretty.

Measure the sides of the cake from the bottom edge of the roof line down, cut 2 pieces of fondant, make the board lines again, and stick those onto the sides. Once those are on snugly, go ahead and put in the birdhouse door skewer.

I know you’re asking, “Why is the frosting so lumpy?” No air conditioning and cream cheese icing, that’s why.  Try not to obsess about it. Not a thing I can do about it but hope it doesn’t show thru the fondant so let’s move on to the fencing, huh? Cut out 4 more rectangles- each the width of the side where you will be placing the fence. The height is up to you. Cut these rectangles into boards- each the same width. Now you have sticks and they need turned into fence boards. To do this, cut the tops of each one at an angle like so:

The boards need joined, so cut rectangular strips to go across them once they are on the cake, measuring the circumference of the cake so you know how much you will need. You will need this amount twice. Apply the boards and then the joins to the cake like so:

As you can see, my fencing stops at the door. It was a height thing. Your results may vary.

Front, back, sides, fencing: it must be time for the roof. Wad up the rest of the white fondant, and seal it in a baggie to keep it fresh and soft. Roll out the teal fondant and cut circles- approximately a crap ton.

These will be applied similar to real shingles. Start at the bottom and work your way up.

Part way through, I realized it would work better if I also put shingles along the side before working upwards. This helped me plan the spacing. As you can see, you are going to work your way across the roof, placing the next row of shingles between the shingles of the previous row. Otherwise, it will look weird. Go ahead, go outside and check your own roof. The seams are staggered. They should be the same on a cake house, too.

Again, like a real roof, you have to cap it with a row of shingles:

While you have the teal out, go ahead and cut out the flower box. Roll out bits of white, yellow, and purple, and using a flower plunger cutter thingy, cut out flowers. Arrange all to your liking on the front of the house. Repeat for back, if desired.

So far, it’s been fairly simple: cut and apply, cut and apply. Now we’ll get down to the harder part: the bird. My bird is wacky, but that’s what the client asked for so that’s what he’ll get.  First the picture, then the explanation; at least as much as I remember. I used a picture to guide me and I found it on cakecentral in the galleries. Here he is in progress:

Roll one square teal oval for the body and head. Use the non-pointed end of a skewer to make his belly button.

Roll 2 white fondant balls for the eyes and cover those partially with teal for the eyelids.

For the feet, I used orange fondant and a flower cutter and removed the extra petals.

The wings were created from a rectangle. I rounded one end then used a pointed fondant tools to push in 2 areas on the other end to make it look similar to a wing.

The tuft of hair was created with a clay gun. I made a thin round strand, cut it in pieces, and then joined them together by squooshing.

The beak is 2 triangles of fondant. Before placing one triangle on top of the other, roll teeny balls for the teeth. Place the teeth on top of the bottom triangle, then place the top triangle and lightly press the whole shebang together. Press the non-pointed end of a skewer lightly into the beak to create the nostrils. After that, let it dry with 1/3 of it hanging over a low edge so it dries with a slight curve.

When all that is complete, mark the pupils with a black food marker and join all the pieces with piping gel. Keep the extra hair tufts in case of breakage. Let the food marker dry before you put it all together or you may be giving your bird the bird if it smears.

All that’s left now is put your wording on the board and place the bird. Ta-da! Not exactly a Rockin’ Robin in his ‘hood, but it’ll do.

To answer your remaining questions, the weather played a huge part in the pain-in-the-behind-ness of the creation of this cake. The frosting made everything slide. The fondant stretched out of shape and didn’t want to stay put. It was cream cheese frosting so I had to be very aware of how long it was out of the fridge, too. I kept putting the cake in the ‘fridge to harden, take it out and work on it for 5 minutes, repeat ad infinitum. It took a lot long longer than it should have, it became and stayed shiny, and I never did get it to look as professional as it should have looked. The weather is totally beyond my control. I have no idea what the weather is going to be when I agree to make a cake, so it’s a crap shoot. Nice clients understand this. Not-so-nice ones get their cakes from someone else. 🙂 My client, and his mother, was very happy with the cake, and in the end, that’s all that counts. That doesn’t mean I won’t harp on getting central air, but it does show you that sometimes all you can do is all you can do, and no amount of complaining is going to make it perfect or make it take less time.

Happy Dry Cool Weather Caking!

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