Spinning Record Player Cake Tutorial

It’s been a while since I last did a tutorial so I am really excited to share my latest cake with you as well as give you instructions on how I made it. My youngest daughter just celebrated her 16th birthday (how can I possibly be that old already?!) so we had a Sweet 16 party for her. We celebrated at a dance studio and all of her closest friends joined us for swing and foxtrot lessons then an evening of dancing. It was such a fun and memorable night. Of course, I wanted to make her a very special cake to go with this special evening. She asked me to make her a cake that looked like her beloved record player. I was thrilled to do it, but I had to add something to make it really over the top. I decided to make it spin just like a real record player. I honestly wasn’t sure if it would work, but I had to give it a try. To my delight (and her’s) it worked perfectly! In fact, everyone was shocked that it was actually a cake. Some people thought it was a real record player despite the fact that it was smaller than a real one.

Here is a video of it in motion:

And here are some more detailed pictures:

And, just in case you need some proof that this is real cake too, I took a picture after we cut into it.

Ok, enough photos of the cake and on to the making of it.

Whenever I start a sculpted cake, I try to collect as many patterns and photos as I can. In this case, my daughter wanted it to look like her record player so I was lucky because I had the actual record player to use as a reference. I also went online and found a picture of it so that I could print out some patterns to use for things such as the face plate and speakers.

Th next step is figuring out the size. This is where math comes into play. (See, your math classes actually do come in handy later in life.) I knew I didn’t want it full size because that would be just too much cake. After taking measurements and comparing it to my cake pan sizes, I decided to make it 70% of the original size. I used that percentage for everything going forward. In order to figure that out, you just take a measurement then multiply it by 0.7. Here, you can see, I started figuring some of the main measurements before I started baking. (Isn’t my notepad cute?)

I found this little motor on Amazon.com that turns almost the same speed as a real record player. My husband wired it up for me. (*See bottom for his full explanation on how to wire the motor.) He also cut a piece of PVC pipe for the motor to set in, inside the cake.

I then baked the cakes and made chocolate ganache for the filling and crumb coat. When you are figuring the height of your finished cake you have to take into consideration the cake board, height of filling and thickness of fondant along with the height of each cake layer. I added a cake board in the middle of the cake, to make it easier to cut into, so once I added the bottom cake board, the middle cake board, the fillings and fondant I figured out that I needed 4″ total of cake so I made each of the four layers 1″ high.

Using the measurements I had figured earlier, I cut a cake board to the size I wanted and used that for my cutting pattern for the cakes. Disregard the line on the board; I had measured wrong the first time and had to redraw my pattern.

I also measured and figured where the location of the motor would be in the cake then made holes at that location in each of the cake boards so that the wires could run through them.

Next I used a round cutter that was about the same size as the PVC pipe and cut out holes in each of the top two cake layers where the motor would go. The PVC only had to fit into the top two layers because I had the cake board in the middle of the cake that it would rest on. I made a smaller hole in the bottom two layers that was big enough for the wires to run through. I didn’t get a picture of any of that though.

I then filled and stacked all the cakes, lining up the holes in the cakes with the holes in the cake boards. To be safe, I placed some dowel supports in the bottom layers to hold up the center cake board since I knew the fondant would be heavy. I then crumb coated the entire thing in chocolate ganache. I don’t have the best skills with ganache yet but, fortunately it was all going to be covered with thick fondant so it didn’t matter that it wasn’t perfectly smooth. Finally, I inserted the cleaned PVC pipe into the hole of the cake.

Now it was time for the fun stuff. I made a batch of black modeling chocolate, rolled it thin then cut out a circle for the record. My mixer bowl cover was the perfect size so I used that for my pattern.

I used a circle cutter to make an indention where the label would be located and then used a decorating tip to cut out the center of the record.

I had found this clay sculpting tool at the craft store and it turned out to be the perfect tool to make the indentions around the record. With the record laying on a turntable, I held the tool in place and slowly spun the record around in a full circle.

I set the record aside to dry for a couple of days then cut some circle labels out of gum paste, used the decorating tip to remove the centers, and allowed them to dry for a couple days as well. I only needed one but I was going to be writing on them so I made a couple extras in case I messed it up. (Over the years I have learned to always make extras of things!)

My daughter’s record player protrudes in the front so I cut out a thick piece of modeling chocolate and cut it to size. I love using my Perfection Strips to get even thicknesses when I roll things out.

I also rolled out a thin amount of modeling chocolate and cut out two speaker backings then used a plastic cross stitch canvas to press over them and make indentions. I also dusted them with some petal dusts so that they would have a little color and depth but that was a mistake because it all rubbed off after I placed fondant over them, as you will see.

I then attached the protrusion piece and the speaker backings to the front of the cake with a little piping gel.

I attached a thin piece of fondant on the back of the cake because I was going to need to attach a piece of foam board there later on, to support the weight of the lid, and I wanted a barrier between the foam board and the cake.

Now to cover everything in fondant. Getting the right color was the tricky part. The original record player is a reddish, cherry wood color. I am not that great with color mixing so I spent some time experimenting with different colors and techniques before I finally came up with this. I started by mixing some Warm Brown gel color with a small amount of Super Red until I got this light reddish-brown color of fondant. As you will see, I later brushed air brush coloring over it to intensify the color.

I rolled out a large, thin piece of the fondant and used a fondant smoother to press a wood grain texture sheet onto it.

Once fully covered with texture, I laid the fondant on top of the cake and trimmed it to fit.

Now I added the rest of the color by using a pastry brush to brush Warm Brown airbrush color on top of the fondant (*note I used AIRBRUSH color instead of gel color this time.)

This really brought out the wood grains and added more color but it added a little too much color so, while it was still wet, I went back over it with the same brush wiping off the excess color and cleaning the brush in between strokes with some water. I ended up loving the result because it gave the reddish brown look of the cherry wood as well as a little bit of shine that resembled the finish on the original record player. I used this same technique for all the rest of the wood paneling on the cake. With a small knife, I cut away the fondant from the top of the PVC pipe.

The sides of the cake needed to be thick and firm so that they could rise up above the surface. I kneaded some Tylose Powder into the fondant to give it strength and help it dry quicker.

I used my Perfection Strips again to roll out the sides to an even thickness. I had determined how thick they needed to be earlier when I did all my measurements.

Again, I pressed the wood grain indention sheet onto the fondant then cut it the height and length I needed and attached it to the side of the cake with some piping gel. The original record player is rounded on the front corners so I didn’t want seams on them. Instead, I measured the length from the back corner of the cake all the way around to the edge of the modeling chocolate protrusion piece. I did this for each side.

Using my printed speaker pattern, that I got from online photos, I attached it with straight pins and used a veining tool to mark the cutouts in the fondant. I then removed the pattern and used and X-Acto knife to remove all the cutouts.

As I mentioned earlier, I needed to add some foam board to the back to serve as a support for the lid later on so I cut a piece to size then covered it in fondant and attached that piece to the back of the cake with some melted candy melts.

I finished up the siding by covering the protrusion piece with fondant and coloring it just like I had with the rest of the cake (although it is not yet colored in this photo.) I try to keep as much of my cakes edible as possible but sometimes there are some pieces that just need stronger support than what edible materials can provide. That was the case with the lid. I had to use foam board since it was so large and was going to have little support. So I measured and cut it out then checked it on top of the cake before covering it in fondant.

I first covered the bottom of the lid, by attaching the fondant with piping gel. I colored it then let it dry for a day before flipping it over and covering the top as well.

To trim out the speaker cut outs, I cut thin strips of black fondant and placed them inside the edges of the cutouts. As you can see in the photo, the petal dust that I had originally brushed on the speakers looked terrible. Most of it rubbed off and, what was left looked clumpy and dirty. I ended up using a paint brush, dipped in Vodka, to clean it all off and kept it just black.

Now I took a break from the cake and prepared the base board so that it would have time to dry. I rolled out a large piece of cream colored fondant then pressed an impression mat on it to give it texture. I then attached it to my cake board with some piping gel, cut out a hole for the motor wires, glued some ribbon around the edges, and then left it to dry overnight.

Once dry, I flipped it over and attached some felt chair pads to the bottom so that they would raise the baseboard up just enough for the wires to slide underneath it.

Back to the cake….

For the face plate, I rolled out some yellow gum paste then used my pattern to cut it out with an X-Acto knife. I poked indentions where corners were with my veining tool so that I could use those as markings.

I then removed the pattern and used the markings as guides to freehand all the lines with my veining tool. I used a decorating tip to make the circle indentions.

For the knobs, I rolled out a thick piece of yellow gum paste then used a small round cutter to cut them out and then another, even smaller, round cutter to make the circle indention.

To make the sides bumpy, I used a sewing gauge to press indentions all around.

For the lid support, I used a wooden dowel rod and covered the top half of it in yellow gum paste. Again, I made two, just in case.

When all the yellow pieces had dried, I used my airbrush to color them gold.

For the back of the face plate (where the dial and number are) I used my pattern and cut out a piece of white gum paste that was slightly larger than the pattern and made an indention of the pattern in it. I wanted it larger so that you wouldn’t accidentally see cake behind it if it didn’t line up perfectly with the face plate.

Once dry, I used an edible marker to draw on all the lines and numbers. I also used edible markers to draw the wording on the dried gum paste record label. I then attached the record label on to the record and attached the face plate backing on to the back of the face plate.

I attached the face plate on to the cake with some melted candy melts and then cut thin pieces of black fondant and attached them with piping gel to trim out everything.

The final pieces were all made out of black modeling chocolate. I used a circle cutter and X-Acto knife to make the 45 adapter. Then freehand cut other trim pieces.

For the arm, I used a lollipop stick and attached modeling chocolate pieces to the ends.

I added silver color to the arm and some of the other pieces by brushing on silver luster dust mixed with some Vodka.

Finally I cut out the letters for the base board with alphabet cutters.

Now to assemble it all. I attached the cake onto the base board with some melted candy melts then ran the wires of the motor down through the holes and out under the board. I stuck foil at the bottom of the PVC pipe to help position the motor then stuck a few toothpicks on the sides of it to hold it securely in place.

My husband then finished wiring everything so we could plug it in an outlet. (*See bottom for his full explanation of how to wire the motor.) After making sure it worked, I laid a 6 inch cake board on it for a base then attached the record to that cake board with a little piping gel.

With the record in place I could figure out where to place all the other pieces. I even added a small piece of silver colored toothpick on the bottom of the arm to look like a needle. When you use non-edible parts, be sure to let the people eating it know they are there.

The final step was attaching the lid. I stuck the dowel rod support into the cake, making sure it was in a good position to hold a decent amount to the weight of the lid.

I don’t usually like to use hot glue around a cake (I mostly use melted candy melts) but I needed to make sure that my adhesive would be strong and dry fast since the lid was so heavy. Also, I was going to be the one serving the cake so I knew how to cut it to avoid any glue. I placed a dab of hot glue on the top of the support and then another long line of it along the top of the back foam core wall. I put the lid in place and, thankfully, it held. You could see the glue blobs at the seam so I took another long strip of black modeling chocolate and trimmed out where the lid and back wall attach so that you could no longer see any of the glue.

Finally I attached the birthday wish to my daughter on the base board and it was done!

Here is my beautiful daughter, Faith, with her cake at her birthday party.

*Here is some information, written by my husband, on how to wire the motor for the cake:

We ordered the motor with a specific RPM range to duplicate the speed of a 33 1/3 RPM record. Motors can be ordered with various input voltages, and I suggest that you order one from 9-12v as it will be easier to obtain the correct voltage transformer. I happened to have a 12v transformer from an old cordless phone, so we ordered a 12v motor to fit it.

Wiring the motor is pretty straight-forward, and just requires the following parts:

1) Soldering Iron and Solder – for best results, could be wired without soldering if necessary
2) Male and Female Wire Connectors – 2 of each style, this will allow for quick connection and disconnection of the transformer from the motor. You’ll need small connectors suitable for 20-24gauge wire
3) Length of 2 conductor wire – or use portion of transformer wire, cut off. Most transformers use low 20-24gauge wire, which is thin
4) Transformer – allows conversion of 110v (or 220v) wall power voltage to motor voltage
5) Wire strippers/cutters

Note – proper precautions need to be taken when messing with wiring as even 12 volts can lead to injury, and 110v or 220v can lead to serious injury or death.


1) Cut a section of 2-conductor wire to approximately 12″ long. This will be attached to the motor and receive the female connectors sticking out of the bottom of the cake board. Strip the ends of the wires on all ends.
2) Determine which wire should go to which terminal on the motor (hook up temporarily to the transformer make sure it’s spinning in the direction you desire – clockwise in most records). Electrical motors are typically reversible, so reversing the wires will cause the motor to spin in the opposite direction. Mark the wires and terminals on the motor for easy connections.
3) Solder the ends of the wire into the motor terminals – or strip longer ends and thread/wrap (this will not be as reliable or secure)
4) Attach female connectors to the other end of the 12″ strip of wire, and male connectors to the transformer wire (which goes where doesn’t really matter as long as it’s male to female on one side)
5) Hook up the connectors, plug in the transformer, and test for proper operation
6) Unhook the connectors and thread the 12″ wire through the cake and cake board, hook up again when ready to plug into the wall for display

Until next time,
God Bless and Sweet Dreams

Posted in Advanced Techniques, Basic Instruction, New Cakes | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Glue Bottle Cake and the Special Friends Behind It

The thing I love about cakes is that they almost always have a story behind them. That is definitely the case with one of my most recent cakes, a glue bottle cake.

I made this cake for a very special reunion with two close friends, Paula Ames of Ames Cake Creations and Amelia Carbine of CakeFu.

The glue bottle was all cake, covered in fondant. The label was a combination of hand cut fondant and modeling chocolate that I pieced together, using a picture off the Internet as my pattern.

The cap and spout were made of modeling chocolate and attached with a dowel rod into the cake.

The “glue” was a fondant rope twisted into letters that read “No Longer Needed.” (Keep reading for the story behind this.)

You may remember me talking about Paula and Amelia back when they collaborated together a few years ago to give me a “pay back” coffin cake for my 39th birthday. They are both incredible cake artists who have been on cake competition television shows, had their cakes featured in various publications, and received many awards and accolades for their work. They are special to me though, because they are far more than just “cake” friends. They are amazing women whom I love dearly and whose friendships go way beyond just cake. (In fact, I knew and loved Paula long before she even became a cake decorator. )

The problem is that we all live in different states so, although we have all been friends for several years, we have never actually all been together in person until just a couple of weeks ago. This is where the glue bottle comes in. It all started a few years back when Paula asked Amelia and I if we wanted to attend the Oklahoma Sugar Art show with her in Tulsa. We both said “yes” and started making plans to attend the show altogether. Unfortunately something came up for me (I don’t even remember what it was) and I had to cancel. Soon after that, something came up for Amelia too and she also had to cancel. Since we were no longer going, Paula canceled as well and booked some wedding cakes for that weekend instead. As the time drew nearer to the show, both Amelia and my conflicts went away and we were suddenly able to attend again. Paula was upset because she had booked wedding cakes and was no longer able to go. She kept telling us to remember that she was the “glue that held us together.” We felt pretty bad… but not bad enough to cancel our trips to the show. So while we were at the show we took a picture together and photo shopped a picture of a glue bottle in between us so that Paula could feel like she was there too, since she was the “glue that held us together.”

That started our tradition with the glue bottle. When I later visited Paula, to attend a viewing party for her win on Food Network’s Sugar Dome, she and I took a picture together and added the glue bottle in place of Amelia.

After that, Paula went to visit Amelia so they took a picture together and inserted a glue bottle in place of me. The glue bottle became an important part of our threesome because there was always one of us missing.

After depending on the glue bottle to fill the void all these years, we were finally able to all be together a couple of weeks ago. Paula’s son got married and Paula asked us to both come to the wedding and help her make the wedding cake. It was so much fun! Not only did we finally get to be in the same place together, but we also got to work on a cake together. I thought it was only appropriate that these three cake decorators celebrate our reunion with a cake that looked like a glue bottle. So I made the cake and brought it with me. Here we are, about to dive into it.

Of course I can’t end this story without sharing the wedding cake we all worked on together as well. Paula designed the cake and made all the flowers. Amelia and I helped her put it all together the day before the wedding. It was a very special weekend that I hope will be just the beginning of many more events together, without the need of a glue bottle.

Until next time,
God Bless and Sweet Dreams

Posted in General Information, New Cakes, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

In A Galaxy Far, Far Away… A Star Wars AT-AT Cake Was Born

Copyright 2015 – Sweet Dreams Cake App/Michelle Davis – All Rights Reserved

** I have had many requests for additional photos and measurements of my AT-AT cake structure so I have attached additional photos at the bottom of this tutorial for further reference. This is all the photos I have so I hope they are helpful in creating your own AT-AT cake.**

When I first got the text from a friend asking me to make her nephew an AT-AT cake, I have to admit that I thought it was a typing error. Soon after, I received another text from her brother also asking me to make his son the AT-AT cake. It seemed too coincidental that they would both make the same spelling error so I went to Google and quickly realized that I knew exactly what an AT-AT was, I just had no idea that was what it was called. AT-ATs are the four-legged creature/machines in the Star Wars movies. AT-AT actually stands for All Terrain Armored Transport. If you still aren’t familiar with them, maybe this picture will refresh your memory:

I just love that picture! That is actually my cake in the foreground of a Star Wars video game scene. My teen daughter took a picture of it in front of a green screen then used the magic of Photoshop to insert the video game scene into the background. She even added the lazers.

Anyway, I was so excited to do this cake because I have wanted to do a Star Wars themed cake for a long time. Once I started looking up pictures of AT-ATs online, though, I got a little intimidated. There is so much detail on those creatures! I ended up using lots of pictures and breaking it all down so that, once I got started, it was no where near as intimidating as I had feared. In the end it turned out to be on of my most favorite cakes that I have made. Here are some more detailed pictures.

My favorite part of the cake are the legs.

I had a little cake batter left over from baking the cake so I also made a few cupcakes and used the Star Wars font to spell out the birthday boy’s name.

The best part about making cakes is seeing the reaction of the recipients. Here is a photo Garrik’s dad sent me. They say a picture speaks a thousand words so I am pretty sure this photo says it all.

Before they ate the cake Garrik even got to spend some time playing with it. He brought out his Star Wars figures and X-Wing fighters and created a whole battle scene. I love when a cake can bring this much joy to someone.

Now I want to share with you a little on how I made this cake. I wasn’t able to put together a full tutorial but I did take some pictures while I was creating it so I will share those with you, along with some helpful information.

I started with the baseboard. I usually like to create cakes on separate boards and then attach them to the baseboard at the end to prevent destroying the board while I work but, because this cake needed to be screwed into the baseboard I had to make it first and just be very careful while I constructed the rest of the cake. I wanted the board to look like the snowy tundra that the AT-ATs roam in The Empire Strikes Back. I first attached a few lumps of modeling chocolate on to the board then covered the whole thing with white fondant. I brushed a little brown petal dust onto the lumps to give them a wind blown look. I then brushed piping gel over the entire board, except for the brown areas and covered it in granulated sugar. Using my fingers, I spread the sugar to also look wind blown. Here was my result. Sorry for mediocre photos. When I am working, photos tend to be low on my priorities.

Next I had to add the structure. A 3-D cake needs support, just like a human needs bones, or else it will all fall apart. I usually use pipes for my supports but AT-ATs have very long flat legs so this time I needed something flat but also very strong. After wandering around the hardware store with my husband, he came up with the genius idea of using steel flat bars for the legs. We took a bar home and he cut it down to size for each of the legs then cut the knee area of two of the legs with his reciprocating saw, placed them in his vice, and bent them into shape. He then cut out a board to hold up the cake and attached the legs to it. He also screwed another board onto the body board to support the neck and head. Finally he secured the legs to the baseboard with screws. I was more than just a little nervous as I watched him screw into my finished baseboard but he was very careful and didn’t make too big of a mess on it.

How did I know the sizes I needed for the structures, you ask? I probably should have mentioned this first; I always start with some kind of pattern. A lot of the time I have to just use pictures and blow them up to the size I need but I was lucky to find this schematic drawing online (at the bottom of the page) so it was a tremendous help with figuring size as well as later cutting out details. I enlarged the schematic to the size I wanted and used that for all my planning.

I usually try to cover my structures completely so that they don’t come into any contact with the cake. I didn’t worry about covering the steel bars with anything though, since they would just be covered with gumpaste that would not be eaten, but I didn’t want the cake touching the wood so I cut cardboard cake boards the same shape as the wood board and attached them to the wood with hot glue.

It was time to get started on the fun part. This is when my patterns became very handy. I had multiple copies of my main pattern so that I could cut pieces out and use them for measurements or as patterns to cut around.

I started at the feet and worked my way up, covering the legs in gumpaste. Using the pattern I determined the diameter of the circles I would need for the feet then rolled out some thick gumpaste and cut circles out with a round cutter.

I cut the circles in half and placed them on each side of the flat bars, joining the sides together and smoothing out the seams. Using pieces of my pattern, I cut out the side bars of the feet and made indentions in them with a modeling tool.

I added more circles of gumpaste, some toe pieces and then some black fondant to give the impression of a blank space. I inserted toothpicks, with some gumpaste wrapped around them, to later use to support the side bars. I like to use melted candy melts as my glue since I can mix colors to match my needs (I added a couple of black melts to a small amount of white melts to get the gray color) and they give you a few seconds to move things around if needed but then harden up pretty quickly and hold great. The only time they don’t work well is if you are in hot temperatures because they will melt. I don’t have that problem much, though, since I live in the cold north.

I continued on, covering the steel bars completely with gumpaste, using my patterns to cut out individual pieces. Some pieces that weren’t completely attached to a flat surface, like the ones underneath the boards, I had to let dry for a while so that they would stay firm once I attached them to the board with candy melts. The round bars that are on the back side of the legs were made by running gumpaste through my extruder and letting them harden before attaching.

Some details I cut out and attached and others I just drew on, using my modeling tool. I also had to pick and choose which details to add and which ones to eliminate. That is hard to do when you are a detail oriented person but I also had to be realistic on the amount of time it would take to create the cake and the difficulty of working with a small scale. I’m sure any Star Wars fanatic might be able to point out incorrect details but I think it turned out great for a cake.

Now it was time to create the body. This was formed out of cake so I baked a 9×13 sheet cake and cut it in half lengthwise, torted each half, then stacked them all on top of each other. Out came the pattern again. I covered it in packaging tape so that the grease from the cake wouldn’t ruin it, then I laid it against the cake and used it as a guide for carving. I also attached a second copy of it on the other side of the cake so that I could create a guide for my knife. I learned how to do this technique in Mike McCarey’s Cakenology DVD (excellent DVD by the way!)

Here is the finished carved cake. As you can see, the cake is a little more crumbly than I would normally use for a carved cake but there wasn’t a lot of detail to carve so I could get away with this cake recipe this time.

Next came a crumb coat of chocolate buttercream.

Then I covered it in gray fondant.

I went back to my resource pictures to add lines and markings while the fondant was still soft.

I had to cut a strip of cake board and cake out so that it would set level on the board where the neck board attached to the body board. I free handed this with an X-acto knife.

The cake was then attached to the body.

AT-ATs have very sharp edges so, using gumpaste, I cut out panels, let them dry for a bit, then attached them to the fondant with candy melts. I used my patterns again to cut out the panels and my modeling tool to add lines and other details within the panels. I also added smaller panels at the base of the body to hide the cake boards.

The head, neck and undercarriage of the AT-AT were made from rice krispy treats. For the neck and undercarriage I used a circle cutter to cut out rice krispy treats, cut a side off to make a flat surface on the rice krispy treat, then covered them in fondant. The fondant was first indented with a texture sheet before attaching.

Here is a picture of the undercarriage attached to the board with candy melts and covered in textured fondant.

The same method was used for the neck.

Once again, out came the pattern for carving the head from rice krispy treat. I cut it a little smaller than the pattern so that I could allow for an additional layer of fondant to hide the bumpiness of the rice krispies.

Here I added the extra piece of fondant on the top of the head to make it smooth.

I wasn’t too concerned about the sides of the head being smooth because they would later be covered with gumpaste panels, like the rest of the body.

Once the panels were in place I started adding more details. The guns were made from running gumpaste through my extruder then using a skewer to make indentions in the ends.

With a small paint brush, I brushed on some red airbrush color to add the red detail on the front panel.

A look at the top of the head.

Once all the details were in place I was really happy with the cake but something was missing. It needed some shading and additional color to give it a more realistic, weathered look. I am the first to admit that I am not great when it comes to shading and using my airbrush, so I went to Facebook for some help. There is a great group on FB called Cake Newbs that is a wonderful place to ask questions and get recommendations from some of the best cakers in the industry. So I posted a picture of the cake and asked how I could make it more realistic. I immediately got some advice to spray it with silver airbrush color then dust it with dark gray petal dust. I am so glad I asked! That is what I did and that is exactly what it needed to take it to the next level. It is hard to see the full impact of how dramatic a difference the airbrush and shading made in photos but I think they can give you a pretty good idea.



Oh, another tip I learned from the group is to cover the baseboard in plastic wrap to prevent the airbrush and petal dust colors from ruining the board, as you can see in the above picture.

There you have it, a cake that was a lot of fun for me to make and a lot of fun for a little boy to enjoy.

Until next time,
God Bless and Sweet Dreams

**Here are some additional structure photos.**

Posted in Advanced Techniques, General Information, New Cakes | Tagged , , , , , , | 39 Comments

Elvis Cupcakes: Banana cake with chocolate ganache, peanut butter icing, bacon and caramelized bananas

**UPDATE: Please note that I have recently learned that Disco Dust is now being considered non-toxic but not edible and should only be used on decorations that will be removed and not consumed. In the case of these cupcakes, you would want to remove the music notes before eating. This blog post was written before my knowledge of this change.

July is already known for two major celebrations, Independence Day and my birthday (I’m still trying to get that approved as a national holiday) but did you know that this July there is another reason to celebrate? July 2014 marks the 60th anniversary of rock and roll. According to the Graceland website; “On July 5, 1954, Elvis {Presley} walked into Sun Studio in Memphis and recorded “That’s All Right” with guitarist Scotty Moore and bassist Bill Black. DJ Dewey Phillips played the song on July 8 on WHBQ radio and the switchboard lit up. Rock ‘n’ Roll was born and the music world changed forever.”

Elvis may be gone from us but his music is as alive and well as ever. I am a huge fan of “The King” so I thought I would come up with a cupcake creation in his honor for this rockin’ anniversary. It’s a well known fact that Elvis’ favorite sandwich was a peanut butter, banana, bacon sandwich so I decided to use these flavors to create a cupcake that would be worthy of his fame.

I introduce to you: Elvis Cupcakes!

These cupcakes are made with a banana cake, filled with peanut butter icing, topped with chocolate ganache and more peanut butter icing, then adorned with bacon pieces, a caramelized banana slice and a sparkly dark chocolate music note. Can you say “Yum”?

I have to tell you that these turned out even better than I thought they would. One of my friends kept raving about how amazing they were, only to find out later that he doesn’t even like bananas. I’m not real crazy about the whole bacon with sweets fad but I have to say that this time it was a perfect addition to the sweetness of the rest of the cupcake. All the flavors were just incredible together. I can now understand why Elvis loved his sandwiches so much.

The only thing I would possibly change next time is the caramelized banana. When I caramelized the bananas I added some rum to them. I felt like the taste of the rum was a bit overpowering so I think next time I will just use butter and brown sugar on the bananas and forgo the rum. My family seemed to think the rum taste was fine though so maybe it is just me.

Okay, are you ready to learn how I constructed these scrumptious little cakes?

I started with a banana cupcake recipe that I found on Food Network’s website. I only used the cake part of the recipe. I was kind of expecting the cupcakes to taste like banana bread but they were much different. They were sweet, light and moist. I fell in love with the cupcakes and probably could have eaten them all straight from the oven. This recipe is definitely joining my list of favorite recipes. According to the original recipe it is supposed to yield 12 cupcakes but I got 18 when I made it so I have changed the amount for my printed version.

Click here for a printable version of the Banana Cupcake recipe.

While the cupcakes were baking, I made my bacon bits and chocolate music notes. The easiest way to make bacon bits is to partially freeze the bacon first so that it holds together when you cut it up.

First cut it in 1/4″ slices in one direction

Then cut it in 1/4″ slices in the other direction

Fry all the bacon pieces over medium high heat until they are crispy. Drain the fat then pour the finished pieces onto a paper towel to cool.

For the chocolate music notes, I melted a dark chocolate Ghirardelli candy bar in a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water. Be very careful to continuously stir and melt completely but not let it get too warm or it will become discolored when cooled. It should be warm to the touch but not hot. I turned the heat off the burner once the chocolate started to melt a bit to make sure the bowl didn’t get too hot.

Once melted, I poured the warm chocolate onto a baking sheet lined with waxed paper. I laid Perfection Strips down to help me keep an even thickness as I spread the chocolate with an angled spatula. I love my Perfection Strips. I use them all the time for so many different purposes.

I then placed the chocolate in the refrigerator until it just began to set. The shine should be gone but it shouldn’t be so firm that it breaks.

Using a mini music note cutter, I cut music notes out of the chocolate then placed them back in the refrigerator to set up completely.

When they were set I placed the cutter over them again to break them away from the rest of the chocolate.

I found that using a small piece of cardboard helped me to slide them out of the cutter without breaking them.

It was then time to give them some sparkle. I brushed a little bit of Everclear on each note (the alcohol evaporates the moisture quickly so that it is damp just long enough to attach the dust) then poured on some gold Disco Dust. I shook off the excess and then had a shimmery adornment for my cupcake. Disco Dust is edible and gives amazing sparkle. It is also quite messy though, so be prepared for getting dust everywhere. I pour it on over one of these trays so that I can then easily return the excess back into it’s jar.

After the cupcakes were baked and cooled, I filled them with my favorite peanut butter icing. I use this recipe a lot so you have probably seen it on several of my other creations in the past. For more information on how to fill a cupcake, see my past blog post Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cupcakes for your Valentine.

Click here for a printable version of my Peanut Butter Icing Recipe.

Once all the cupcakes were filled it was time to top them with chocolate ganache. To make the ganache I poured a 12 oz. bag of Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips into a metal bowl that rested over a pot of simmering water (make sure the bowl does not touch the water in the bottom pot) then added 1 cup of heavy cream.

I slowly stirred the mixture continuously until the chocolate melted completely.

I then dipped the tops of the cupcakes into the mixture and twisted them to keep them from dripping. You can see a video on how to make the ganache and dip the cupcakes here at TLC.com.



When all the cupcakes were topped with ganache I placed them in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to set up.

While waiting, I made the caramelized bananas. I don’t have pictures of the process but it was fairly simple. Like I said before, I think next time I will forgo the rum as I thought it just added too strong of a taste. That is personal preference though.

Click here for a printable version of the Caramelized Banana recipe.

I then removed the cupcakes from the fridge and finished them off by adding more Peanut Butter Icing, using a #1A decorating tip, and then adding some bacon, a slice of caramelized banana and a music note to each cupcake.

There you go, cupcakes that you “Can’t Help Falling In Love” with and that are bound to get you “All Shook Up.”

Okay, enough with the puns. Enjoy!

Until next time, God Bless and Sweet Dreams.

Click here for a printable version of the Banana Cake Recipe

Click here for a printable version of the Peanut Butter Icing Recipe

Click here for a printable version of the Caramelized Bananas Recipe

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Spam and Spork Cake

It’s been a while since I have posted anything new on the blog so I thought I’d check in with you all by sharing a picture of a Spam cake I made over the winter. My church has a food pantry that we open up to the community twice a month. The pantry was starting to get low on canned goods after the holidays so the church decided to hold a contest among the various small group Bible studies to see which group could donate the largest number of canned goods to the pantry. The winning group received some individual baked goods from a couple of women in the church as well as a cake, made by me, to share with the group at one of their meetings. I was given free reign to make any type of cake I wanted. Well, what better way to celebrate a canned food drive then a cake that looks like a huge can of Spam?

So that is what I made. I took a few pictures of the process but someone (I won’t name names *cough*my kids*cough*) deleted those pictures from my camera so I am just going to have to do a little explaining. I bought a small can of Spam and carefully removed the label from the can. Using my copy machine I enlarged the label to the size I wanted then cut it out, piece by piece, to use for the various patterns. I thinly rolled out colored modeling chocolate and used the patterns and a sharp knife to cut each piece of the label.

The cake was covered in fondant then the blue and gold color were added with an airbrush. A funny (not-so-funny) story about the airbrushing was that I started up my machine to begin spraying the blue on the cake but no color came out of the airbrush. I kept waiting and waiting, expecting color to eventually appear. After several seconds I looked down in frustration only to discover that I had the airbrush turned backwards and there was blue food coloring all over my waist and all over the room behind me. Sadly, these types of things happen to me all the time. I thought it was going to be impossible to clean the room but about a week later our basement, where my cake room is located, ended up flooding and all the flood water cleaned up the room spic and span. Talk about a mixed blessing!

Okay, back to the cake. Like I said, I airbrushed the color. I made a faded effect with the blue, just like on the real label. I then attached the modeling chocolate pieces with some thinned down piping gel.

The cake board is also covered in fondant and made to look like a wood surface. There is a great Youtube video by Elisa Strauss on how to make a wood grain in fondant.

Finally, I thought the cake needed something laying beside it on the baseboard. A fork or spoon just seemed a bit to classy for Spam. That’s when it hit me… a SPORK! A plastic spork is the perfect eating utensil to capture the sophistication of a can of Spam. So I found a picture of a spork online and printed it out to use as my pattern. I cut it out of gum paste and laid it on top of some wadded up foil to allow it to dry in the correct shape.

I then had another slight tragedy. Remember the flying wiener dog incident from my VW Bug cake? Well, it happened again. I set the cake on my kitchen table to take pictures. After a couple of pictures I decided I wanted to switch the lens on my camera. In the 10 seconds I was gone from the room to get the other lens, my naughty wiener dog, Peanut, jumped up on the table, via a chair, and took a bite out of the corner of the cake. I frantically did the best I could to fix up the corner before I had to deliver it. Thankfully it was for church friends. I figured they could practice their forgiveness skills on my dog. I never did get another chance to take any more pictures of the cake.

It ended up being a big hit among the members of the Bible study group and no one cared about the little bit of dog nibbling. In fact, the best part was that some people even asked where the cake was as they looked right at it. A couple people told me they thought it was just a large can of Spam from Costco laying on the counter. Those are the types of comments that make it all worth while, even the airbrush disaster and the naughty dog incident. One thing I love about cake decorating is that every cake has a story. Most have two stories; one story is the reason for the cake and the other story is about the making of the cake. For me, cake decorating is never about the end product, it is always about the journey in getting to that end product; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Until next time, God bless and Sweet Dreams.

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