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Tuesday, 1 August 2017

How Custom cake art makes The Bumblebee cake

With such a huge amount of interest in this cake I’d like to talk you through the presses that Custom Cake Art went through to make this beast of a cake!. Here's a link to the video of our Bumblebee cake

 Bumblebee started out life as just a few straws and hot glue, the bendable straws allowed us to play with different designs and body positions. Although not structurally strong this gave us a good idea what would work and what wouldn’t. The original idea was to have Bee standing in a battle position on one leg only, this caused some balance issues due to the weight that the one leg would support.

Once the final pose was decided on it was time to check that the structure would hold some weight. This wasn’t possible with the straws so a more stable material had to be used. We used what was lying around the bakery and decided that plastic dowels would to the trick, and they worked great. This structure held a good bit of weight and aloud us to take measurements from the small skeleton to draw up a plan for the ironmonger to follow. Obviously we scaled up the design to be made from stainless steel.

Custom made stainless steal frame with removable support stand
After consulting our local ironmonger, Ben at Pack horse steal, it was just a matter of time before we saw the actual size bee had become! I’ve got to say, he looked HUGE when I picked up the structure but looked like quite the work of art just as it was. Although very robust the frame still had a small wobble when I added weight to it so wouldn’t be ideal for a long car journey. I designed a removable frame for this purpose and kept the frame on while constructing the Bumblebee cake too.
We needed a reference picture to work from so scrolled the internet for the correct style and similar position. We printed of some small detailed pictures and then a huge picture on lots of A4 sheets and stuck them together for a real scale reference.

After fully sanitising the stainless steel it was time to get going! Ok so I spent 2 whole hours just looking at thing, maybe this is a Man thing, but I had to mentally see where I needed to put things to be sure of a good finish. After 2 hours of looking at references and marking points in the frame it really was time to stick some food to the frame.

Added rice krispy legs and arms

To bulk out the arms, legs and feet we used rice crispy and marshmallow, I’m not going to lie, this was hard work and messy but was a really good work out. Stuck on in handfuls while still warm, then compressed around the steel bars as hard as I possibly could until my hands and fingers couldn’t squeeze anymore.

Once the first thin layer was cool I added more in the area that needed bulking out, basically where you would see muscles on a human figure.

Bumblebee cake with just a fondant layer
After all the crispy had cooled I added layers of fondant straight on top, no need for a layer of buttercream or ganache it went straight on.
 I made sure this was on tight and again compacted it with my hands. I then smoothed it down with a plastic smoother. Adding details with fondant and royal icing building up layers of detail step by step.

So with the arms, legs and feet all the correct shape I decided to jump straight to the airbrushing. I used a thin layer of black to get different shades of grey onto the limbs, followed by a silver spray and then a mixture of black and silver for more depth. This gave a great metallic finish but I wanted to dull it down a little to give the effect of beaten up metal so airbrushed over small parts with black.

With Bumblebee looking a little more alive with arms and legs , it was time to work on the base of the cake which was going to be a smashed up road scene , giving the impression that Bumblebee had just landed on the road smashing it up and leaving a crater in the road.

So while playing with more details my partner Lindsay baked a huge Red velvet cake batter to bake 4 x 12” square cakes and 4 tray bake tins of yellow Vanilla sponge. Lindsay also made the white chocolate and cream cheese filling for the red velvet and a vanilla buttercream for the vanilla sponge.

Prior to starting this project i made up some of Bumblebee's armor from fondant icing and tylo powder, this was left  dry for two days until hard. 

As they were white in colour i used this opportunity to airbrush them yellow and gave them a beaten up look by giving a light spray of black. these are then added to the arms and legs , really bringing them to life.

After the sponges had cooled it was time to place them in position under Bumblebee’s feet. The 4 sponges made 3 cakes. Two under the feet looked a little flat and boring so I sculpted them and added more layers at the back. Once happy with the design a layer of white chocolate filling coated the whole thing.  4kg of fondant icing was used to cover the base.

I used black, brown, yellow and green airbrush to make the smashed road and also added blues and purples to add water to a broken pipe line under the ground. Built up in fine layers to get to the desired effect.

Once dry, I added crumbled up cake to a crumb to add a soil and mud effect to the crater. 

I covered up the base with a large black bag and then started on what I thing was the most difficult part of the project!

The body!

Here lies a whole heap of issues. The body sponges are held in two parts to reduce the weight impact on the bottom sponge. As they are relatively thin but tall cakes, keeping them in position requires a thicker buttercream than normal and a lot of patience. Once in position I added a crumb layer of buttercream all over the body. Adding 3kg of fondant was difficult to apply and took what felt like forever!
This is where it got stressful!! I had made fondant chest plates for the Bumblebee cake in advance to save time, unfortunately the were way to heavy and once stuck to the body they started ripping and pulling the body apart, not good.

body without black detail
My second attempt was to make thinner chest plates but even the weight of this was damaging the body and exposing the sponge inside. This was an AGGGGGGHHHHHHH moment for sure. I thought this cake had finally beaten me. After taking a break and having a good think I came up with the answer.

Bumblebee cake body with black detail

I made a cardboard template that would hang from the steal neck bar and attached a new fondant chest and bonnet to that. Although not edible, it became a great support and could be removed easily with the head and could be kept as a keepsake after the event. So turned out great in the end.

1st Head made to small !

Final head made to correct scale
I pre made Bumblebees head before starting the body as I wanted it to set hard. What I did not do was measure it to scale!

So the original head was about half the size which looked ready silly.  I made another one to the correct scale from fondant and added tylo powder to the mix to harden the fondant icing faster. I used a smoothie straw to make a hole in the bottom of the head so it will stand on the neck.

Well after I thought id finished the whole thing, I stepped back to admire the work as you do Ha ha
I wasn’t happy! Something just wasn’t right and I wasn’t sure what? It took a fresh pair of eyes to point it out as id been working on Bumblbee for over 13 hour that day. Lindsay reluctantly told me the arms and legs are too thin and the head lights could not be seen on the chest?

 Addition of Bingo wings and Kanckles made a better looking Bee
She was right, I had to paint around the lights with black to frame the lights, it just made them visually pop out. I added more detail while I had the black fine brush out.

 To solve the skinny arms and legs I had to add extra yellow armour which I called Bingo wings on the arms and Kankles on the legs. That was exactly what was needed. Job done.

Transporting the 20+kg cake is another story ………………..
Just about fit in our vehicle by 2 mm !

Bumblebeee cake firing of his weapon 

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  1. Truly amazing... Love reading through this to see how he was created!