calling all cake decorators
March 3, 2013 2:11 PM   Subscribe

Calling all cake decorators: I want to construct a cake that looks like the EDP Wasp synthesizer. Having problems wrapping my head around the specific logistics. Halp.

I hate fondant, but I'm willing to compromise by using one of those "tastes less like ass, promise!" fondant-y recipes and using as thin a layer as possible. So that's not an issue. However, what's getting to me is the way the Wasp is basically a rectangle that has a depression for the yellow and black keyboard section. How the heck do I do that? Should I treat it like two cakes really, the top higher part wrapped in black fondant from the get-go and a second unfondant-ed shallower keyboard part, and then connect them with icing and apply the fondant to the front? If so, could you walk me through that? I really don't want to layer fondant over fondant if possible--and I don't want the keyboard part stacked higher (yellow fondant over black, say) both because it's not higher, it's shallower in real life, and because two layers of fondant=gross chewy sugarbomb.

Aside from that major hurdle, what sort of thing should I do for the knobs? I assume candy's easiest, but which in particular (hopefully ones that don't taste like crap), and how should I top the caps with yellow? And for the panel that actually says "WASP" on it, how should I do that? I am not mad coordinated with piping icing--is there a way to transfer the logo on? How?

Also (though this is less pressing and it's something I can likely work out myself, so it's less an issue), if you have a strikingly DELICIOUS and sturdy-enough-for-construction-and-decoration recipe for the actual cake batter, that'd be great too. Or info about infusing a standard sturdy-basic-cake with unusual yummy flavors (my household tends to be into strong, unusual flavors, anything from rosewater to pistachio to saffron to rhubarb). And any general cake deco tips or recommendations for tools, etc.

I have tons and tons of time to think all this through and to practice, so that's not an issue.
posted by ifjuly to Food & Drink (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I can only answer one of those questions, here goes: The yellow knobs should be made from fondant, tinted yellow, rolled out to ~1/8 inch, and cut with a small cutter into appropriate rounds.
posted by fingersandtoes at 2:15 PM on March 3, 2013

As for the knobs themselves: Rolo, with the yellow cap described by fingersandtoes.

Practice making frosting really, really smooth, and I think you can escape the fondant situation. Especially since there seems to be some surface texture in the image you posted. You can find some tips on getting a smooth coat of frosting here. Then, yes, multiple chunks of cake of different heights, glued to each other with frosting, and a single smooth(ish) coat over the whole thing.

For the labels on it, print yellow and black images on printable, edible icing sheets.
posted by amelioration at 2:38 PM on March 3, 2013

A few thoughts:
If you construct a layer cake out of several thin layers (and you can put delicious fillings between the layers) then on the top layer you cut out the section where the keyboard isn't.

You can use an edible-ink printer for some of the top writing instead of piping it on. My local grocery store bakery can put a photo-file of my choice on top of a cake, using special inks printed on rice paper; talk to yours, perhaps they would sell you just the transfer, not the cake? Otherwise order off the internet - like this website that I picked at random off Google results and do not specifically endorse. (on preview, I don't know if you'd also need to purchase edible inks to use the printer sheets that amelioration suggested)

For the knobs, if you used something like Rollos with little yellow tops made from fondant, they'd be delicious but a bit shorter-proportioned. (on preview, ha!) Also consider tootsie rolls squashed into shape, or cut marshmallows dunked in chocolate coating.

Yellow fondant is almost unavoidable, but you can make a pretty smooth coating with melted chocolate. Another useful tool (that is not entirely delicious but still better than fondant) is "modeling chocolate" in which you melt tasty chocolate and add a bit of corn syrup so you can still sculpt it when it cools.
posted by aimedwander at 2:49 PM on March 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

As for creating the depression for the keyboard, bake two sheet cakes. The first one serves as the base. Cut the other one the long way and stack it on top of the first. Voila! The part of the base that shows is the keyboard, and the sheet cake on top is the upper part. Use icing between the layers. So the higher part is a two-layer cake, the the keyboard part is one layer. Hope that makes sense!
posted by MelissaSimon at 2:50 PM on March 3, 2013

Joe Pastry did a series about "high ratio" cake (yellow and chocolate), which is a decent-tasting cake that's fairly sturdy. (Although not as sturdy as "durable cake" as used by "cake builders".... But that stuff is actually kind of yucky and you shouldn't need anything that dense anyway.)

Option B is a little out there, but you can use cereal treats (rice krispy treats) as your "cake" instead, it carves beautifully and holds shape and actually tastes pretty good, although not cake. You could even do a hybrid, with a cake base and cereal treats on top where the detail is.
posted by anaelith at 3:05 PM on March 3, 2013

I immediately thought of black licorice logs for the knobs, which you could melt yellow white chocolate onto. But I know licorice isn't everyone's favorite.
posted by shortyJBot at 3:39 PM on March 3, 2013

So I took a cake decorating class a couple of months ago, and the instructor said that if you want anything black you should always start with chocolate. What about adding black color to a ganache and using that for the background color? Then top with cut pieces of yellow fondant for the keys and tops of the knobs.

I've had good luck with this recipe for making heavily constructed cakes. (For example, I just made this one for my son's fifth birthday.)
posted by ambrosia at 5:31 PM on March 3, 2013

Dark chocolate/white chocolate kit-kats for the keys? I just found out that they exist.

Disclaimer: I have never ever decorated a cake beautifully.
posted by oceanjesse at 5:59 PM on March 3, 2013

Use the first recipe listed in my blog-
Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa will give you a very dark cake. This recipe is very dense (and moist) and will cut easily. Chill the cake for 20 minutes before cutting, makes it easier.

I agree with the above suggestion of using a baker's printer. You can apply your graphics right to the frosting. I use Hershey's Special Dark chips for the frosting. The darker the better.

Start looking for things that are in the shapes of the knobs. Board game pieces, throat spray caps, whatever, so long as it has a hollow center and isn't a hard plastic. You can fill these with melted chocolate, freeze for a couple of minutes, and then pop out. I recommend Bronze Metal Chocolate from, because of its ease of use and fine quality. While at, purchase some white chocolate and ask about yellow dye or about purchasing it already colored. They have an excellent candy shop in house. You could special order your buttons and keys, if you didn't want to do it yourself. I've had their 'yellow' chocolate before and it's quite good and a very vivid yellow.
posted by myselfasme at 7:52 AM on March 4, 2013

If you have the actual knobs available to use as a template, you could do a corn starch candy mold. Chocolate will work even better than sugar candy, since it melts cooler so you can use a piping bag and get a good, slow flow when filling the mold. If you really want to go all out, use powdered food coloring (NOT liquid food coloring) in white chocolate to get the bright yellow, put a drop in the bottom of the mold, allow to harden, and then fill in the rest with dark (possibly add black powdered food coloring to dark chocolate).

For the logo, I say pipe it in chocolate or cookie icing, but not directly onto the cake... Print the logo out (as many copies as you can fit onto a page at the size you want), tape a piece of waxed paper over top, and then trace on to that with the smallest piping tip you can find. Allow to harden and peel off. No pressure, since you can have as many tries as you like, plus tracing means you don't need any artistic ability.
posted by anaelith at 3:32 PM on March 4, 2013

Here's a video of the waxed paper transfer technique, using buttercream. You can go thinner with chocolate since it will harden more than the buttercream did (although butter cream is om nom, so there's that).
posted by anaelith at 3:44 PM on March 4, 2013

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