Archive for January, 2009

How I Made an Elmo Cake… Part 4

Here we are at the final installment, part 4 of the making of Elmo. Wow, I certainly didn’t intend for it to be anywhere near this long when I started. In Part 1 I talked about planning the cake, making the stand and making the icing. Part 2 covered making and carving the cakes. In Part 3, rice crispies were made and molded into arms, legs, eyes and nose, and blocks and toys were created.

Since last time, the carved cake and rice crispies arms and legs have been in the freezer, firming up the rice crispies. The eyes, nose and blocks have been covered with fondant and overnight you’ll notice they’ve hardened quite a bit since making them, hard enough that you can easily handle them without fear of putting dents in them. If you’ve made them a few days in advance, by the time you get to this stage they’ll be very firm. Finally the cake is almost ready for the final coat of icing, the fur, but first we need to make the smash cake.


Smash Cake

You can really do anything with this cake that you like, decorate it however you want. I based mine on a cute cake I’d seen online, but running out of time, I rushed it. I would have liked to put a bit more time into it. I also had special requirements for this smash cake, as the birthday boy has lots of food allergies. The cake was gluten free, and the butter cream icing was made from special margarine. The fondant was designed so it could be easily pulled off before serving. All these considerations went into the design of the cake, but you can do whatever takes your fancy. It’s quite fun making a mini cake like this.

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Where’s the Animation?!?

You may be wondering what all this talk of cakes is all about, and why is it on a site primarily about animation? And to be honest you’d be right to ask…

Let me start by saying my blog will continue to be a place where I answer peoples questions, whatever those questions are about. Lately I’ve been asked quite a few questions about making cakes, and so that’s what I’ve been posting about. This blog, as well as me posting what I’m interested in at the time, will also be somewhat reactionary, allowing me to respond to pretty much anything people tell me they’re interested in, if I have something to say about it.

I’m not really at liberty to discuss or show much of the animation work I’m doing just at the moment, but that will soon change. So if you’re waiting for more of that sort of thing then please be patient. It won’t be too long now.

Speaking of which, you may have noticed I’ve taken down the Charley Bear pages temporarily. Don’t worry, we’re just doing some re-tooling, a few adjustments, before re-announcing it to the world. There is a lot happening for Charley at the moment, and all will be revealed very soon.

Soon I will be releasing some video and written LightWave 3D training to bridge the gap between what was and what is now. LightWave has recently had some additions that are definitely worth talking about.

I’ve also recently revisited X-Men: ROA, and have some cool stuff to share. But I’ll leave that for another entry.

So let me finish by saying, thanks for your interest, and please let me know at any time if there’s something you particularly want to know, or topics you’re especially interested in. I’m happy to talk about what you want me to talk about.


How I Made an Elmo Cake… Part 3

Welcome to part 3 of the making of my nephew’s Elmo cake. In Part 1 I talked about planning the cake, making the stand and making the icing. In Part 2 I talked about making and carving the cakes. In this installment I’ll cover making and molding the rice crispy arms, legs, eyes and nose, and creating the blocks. The final one will cover piping the fur and finishing touches.

We left off last time with the carved cakes in the freezer. I usually put aside whole day for carving the cake, adding rice crispies, and preparing it for final icing, so I’ll carve the cake in the morning and do the rice crispies in the afternoon. Having the cake in the freezer while you make the rice crispies should be long enough to firm up any parts that have started to thaw. Otherwise you can leave the carved cake in the freezer until the next day, or pretty much for as long as you need.


Rice Crispies

Rice Crispies Recipe

I’ve adjusted the recipe for Aussie measurements, and for the 250g bags of marshmallows available here.

Melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter in a large bowl. Add 250g of marshmallows and toss to coat. Microwave for 45 secs, stir and microwave another 45 secs and stir. Microwave another 10-15 secs if necessary to fully melt the marshmallows.

Add 5 cups of rice bubbles and stir until mixed well. Leave to cool for 5-10 minutes before using.

Note: The hotter the marshmallows the harder the rice crispies will be, so if in doubt, it’s better to microwave a bit longer than necessary.

I made the arms and legs from rice crispies. You don’t necessarily need to use rice crispies for the arms and legs, but I’ll talk more about that later. The eyes and nose are also rice crispies covered with fondant. These really are best made with rice crispies. You could also make some or all of the blocks and toys from rice crispies instead of cake. Certainly if you want to make a ball toy, that would be easier with rice crispies than cake. But before I get too ahead of myself, let’s talk about what rice crispies are, and why you would want to put them in a cake?

Rice crispies are a combination of rice bubbles, or some other kind of puffed rice, and melted marshmallows. They’re often used in 3d cakes like this one, for a number of reasons. Rice crispies are light, much lighter than cake. I was quite surprised at first just how heavy some of these cakes end up when you’re talking about feeding 40 people or more. If you want a cake structure that is larger than the amount of cake you need then it’s useful to use rice crispies for some parts just so you can more easily carry it. Also when you’re making tall cakes, or cakes that are top heavy, rice crispies can be used for the top parts so you don’t need such strong support.

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How I Made an Elmo Cake… Part 2

In How I Made an Elmo Cake… Part 1 I talked about planning the cake, making the stand and making the icing. In this installment I’ll cover making and carving the cakes. Following that will be making and molding the rice crispy arms, legs, eyes and nose, creating the blocks and piping the fur.


Making The Cakes

As I mentioned last time, when planning the cake I set the size by using existing tins for the body, a pudding tin and a small pyrex bowl. These work well together as the rim of the bowl is the same diameter as the pudding tin. I used the same combination for the head of Serenity’s Dorothy the Dinosaur cake. Going from there it was just a matter of seeing what tin sizes would best fit the head.

As you can see from the plan above, I ended up using a pudding tin, 1/3 of a pudding tin (cut into a wedge), and a pyrex bowl for the body. I used two 20cm cake tins for the head with 1/3 of a pudding tin on top and below. I used two 9cm (3 1/2″) cakes for the smash cake. So I would need:

  • 2 x 20cm cakes
  • 2 x 15cm (7.5cm or 3″ deep) cakes – pudding tin
  • 1 x pyrex bowl
  • 2 x 9cm cakes

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How I Made an Elmo Cake… Part 1

I’ve had some people ask me for instructions on how I made my Elmo cake, or for more information on the details. Unfortunately due to the disorganized way it was created I forgot to take photos along the way as I have for some of the other cakes, so in lieu of showing progress pics I thought I’d write a bit about how I made it and share the plans I created.

The first step is to plan the cake and make the stand. The size of the cake depends somewhat on the number of people it needs to serve. My Elmo cake needed to serve at least 40 people, so it’s larger than you would need if you were only serving 20 people. I also like to err on the larger side, as I like decent sized servings rather than the smaller wedding cake sized serves which are often used as guides for these kinds of cakes, and it’s always better to have a bit too much than not have enough. With sculpted cakes it’s also important to keep in mind that sometimes as much as half the amount of cake that you start with gets cut away, and so your plans need to allow for that.

As well as the main cake, I’d originally planned to have more cupcake sized blocks and toys around the cake that could have been given to the kids at the party which boosts the serving numbers too.

Also when planning, the size and type of your cake pans come into play. My original idea was to use a pudding tin and a small Pyrex bowl for Elmo’s body. Everything else was planned around that size and I think ended up a bit bigger than I needed. I could have adjusted the plans to use different pans, or cut more cake away, but I didn’t mind making it bigger than it needed to be for the sake of ease. I prefer to let the cake tins dictate as much as possible, leaving less cutting and sculpting, and less margin for error.

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