It's October! We could think of no more fitting guest artist for this month of macabre than that Master of the Morbid- Andrew Fuller of Guy Meets Cake!
Andrew is a collector of oddities, an avid traveler, a fan of all things macabre, and lives like every day is Halloween- down to the creepy, kooky aesthetics of his house. A self-taught caker, Andrew got into cake design just last March, after posting a photo of a cake he made with a travel theme. An artist at heart, he found a place in the world of cake with his sculpted pieces when he learned that if you make your art EDIBLE....people will buy it!
Today, Andrew has something special to make your Halloween even spookier- he's going to teach you how to make your cake... levitate.
If you can work this into a Carrie Halloween costume you'll win all the contests!
The Headless (hairless!) Horsecat of Sleepy Hollow
When I was asked to be the guest blogger for October, I knew I had to do something spooky, creepy, and surprising. October is the month I was born in and it's no secret to anyone who knows me that I live by the mantra "Everyday is Halloween". I'm pretty new to the world of cake, I'm honored to be here, and I hope I don't let you down!
So...what do I have for you? None other than a Headless Horse....CAT?! Not just any Headless Horsecat, but a Headless SPHYNX, AKA hairless cat. Not just ANY Hairless Headless Horsecat (still with me?!), but a Hairless Headless Horsecat with a levitating head...and I'm going to show YOU how to do it yourself.
A few months back, I did a Super Mario Bros. cake with a floating mushroom jumping up out from the question mark block.
THAT has probably been my most asked about cake, so I decided to give up my trick for creating a cake that is sure to leave people scratching their heads and wondering HOW you did it. Shall we get started?!
A Decapitation Delight
First thing's first...the head. I happen to have four Sphynx cats and I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm slightly obsessed with them.
So I used my cat Hector as my inspiration and muse. The head is what will be levitating by way of a magnetic levitation device. It can only hold so much weight, unless you're ready to throw down some MAJOR cash, so we need to make it lightweight. The one I'm using today can hold 13.1 ounces, so I'm using styrofoam, aluminum foil tape, and modeling chocolate.
I used a styrofoam egg as my base, and a few 1/2" thick styrofoam discs to add some neck. Typically, when I do sculpt on top of styrofoam, I add pieces of chocolate or fondant to build a structure underneath my top layer, but here, we have to remember that it can't be more than 13.1 ounces, so I shaped it with some sandpaper and squeezing until I was happy with the shape, and then attached it to the neck and wrapped it with aluminum foil tape.
Before I decided to add the neck, I flattened and leveled the bottom of the egg and carved out a space for the levitation platform to nestle JUST under the surface. When I decided to add the neck, I did the same thing to that piece. I'm showing both photos so you know what to do depending on the decision you make.
Once you're happy with the shape, it's time to start sculpting your cat. I chose a sphnyx not ONLY because of my love for them, but also to showcase the versatility of modeling chocolate. To make sure you're not going over the 13.1 ounces, it's a good idea to weigh your sculpted foam piece and then weigh out your modeling chocolate. This way, you won't have to keep worrying about it and you'll know exactly how much chocolate you have to work with.
I have to give a shameless plug here to Hot Hands Modeling Chocolate. I have made my own modeling chocolate in the past, but nothing I've tried is comparable to this stuff. It stays firm, yet pliable, it doesn't get oily or greasy, and it can handle hot hands. I do wear gloves when I use it, but more so to avoid fingerprints and because I like keeping my hands clean. If you've not tried it, this is an awesome project for it because you can really create some nice wrinkles and creases....as well as smooth out creases you don't want.
Sphynx cats have DEEP and DISTINCT wrinkles, so while normally when I sculpt with wrinkled skin, I soften the rigidity with a soft paintbrush, today I'm using the small end of my mini soft round tip Sugar Shaper to create small valleys, the larger end for bigger crevices, and the mini soft pointed tip shaper to open up some of the tighter, smaller wrinkles and folds.
To create the nose and lip lines, I used the original-sized firm square tip Sugar Shaper to mark out my shape, and then I smoothed it out with the mini pointed tip chisel. I used the pointed tip to get the nostrils started, then opened them up and rounded them out with the round tip chisel. I used the small soft tip square chisel to marry the ears to the head. Because ears are thin and fragile, I sculpted them roughly directly on my surface and then let them sit to firm up before attaching to the head.
Now would be a good time to try him out on the levitation device, BEFORE you start to add your color. I promise you, it's going to take a while to get it to balance out and levitate correctly. If the head is too heavy on one side, it will topple to the other. Distribute the weight of the head by removing and adding chocolate. Adding in more wrinkles is a great way to add weight to the front if the ears are making the back of the head too heavy. Be patient. Magic doesn't come easy!
I really wanted to give him a realistic or almost wax figure look with some translucent effects, so here's how I did the base for his wrinkles. I lightly brushed the entire head with shortening and then used a blend of color dusts and corn starch. I ended up using a soft blush pink, dogwood brown, and plum purple.
I blotted the color into all of the wrinkles with the Deluxe Blending Fluff Brush, switching to the Deluxe Crease Brush where the wrinkles were tighter. Because I prepped the surface with shortening, I can now wipe away the color from the surface, leaving only color in the creases of the wrinkles. To give him his color, I dry dusted a blend of black and corn starch and lightly swept the surface with the Deluxe Oval Brush, concentrating on staying light and getting darker in the areas around the eyes, ears, and ridge of the snout.
Because this dude is undead, I wanted to give him bulging eyes with an eerie glow. To give them a gradient glow effect, I made some paints using a light blue color dust with some melted cocoa butter and white color dust mixed with cocoa butter.
I used a small paint brush to paint the outer edge with the blue, then added the white to the center. To create that gradient look, I gently blotted the whole area with a cotton ear swab until I got the look I wanted.
Spend some time on the details...color brings him to life...or in this case, UNLIFE. Add dimension by layering your colors, going back in with plums, pinks, and even blues. Use a fine brush and a light hand to give a veiny translucent look to the ears. Bask in his beauty, set him aside, and let's get to the cake!
Cake... or Death? (we'll have the cake)
I am using my Devil's Food Cake because it's great for carving, and I've chosen to ice the cake with dark chocolate ganache because it sets up beautifully on sculpted cakes.
We're going to create a bust, so I used two 7" round layers, a 5" layer on top, and then I used scraps to create shoulders and the back of the collar. Because this is a relatively small cake, I was comfortable sticking with two bubble tea straws for support. Ice your cake with the ganache, and use your Sugar Smoothers to round out the shoulders and give sharp edges where the arms meet the body. Pop int in the fridge for at least an hour to firm up.
A note on the levitation device:
There are a number of levitation devices on the market. I used this one by Yosoo and it's worked really well for my cakes.
The base has four LED lights to help you guide your platform into a spot to make it levitate, and be prepared...it takes practice to get it right. Use the lights to guide you into the right spot. Once you're comfortable, cover the lights with electrical tape to conceal them and then practice, practice, practice getting the platform to levitate without the aid of the lights to guide you.
Now it's time to wrap the base of the levitation device with Press N' Seal or cling film. I have some cardboard 4" square coasters that work perfectly as a board to rest the base on. You can find them online or just cut a cake board to fit. Place the wrapped base onto the board, angled so that the corner is at the front of the cake and the port to plug in your device is at the back of the cake. Using cake clay (or cake pop GUTS) made with cake scraps and ganache, build up the collar and neck scarf around the base. If your cake is well chilled, it will set up fairly quickly. Carefully, lift out the base to your levitation device, ice the cake clay, and chill again for an hour.
Time to cover! I chose to use Hot Hands Modeling Chocolate again so that I can have the freedom of adding and taking away without worrying about creases, as well as getting in details in the stitching and giving a fabric look with folds and wrinkles.
Create a vest by cutting the shape in two pieces, laying one side down on the surface and then placing the other on top to overlap in the center. Use the soft mini round tip Sugar Shaper to add in details like creases in the fabric and notches around buttons. Use your mini soft pointed tip Sugar Shaper to etch in a seam and poke holes close together to create stitching.
All Dressed up...
For the coat and buttons, I mixed my modeling chocolate with a 1/3rd fondant and colored it a dark navy blue. Buttons are simple. For the larger buttons, I cut circles with the large end of a piping tip and stamped an inner ring with a bubble tea straw.
For the smaller buttons, I used a bubble tea straw to cut the circles, and the small end of a piping tip I had on hand.
The larger buttons, I lightly brushed with Truly Mad Plastics Super Gold edible luster. For the smaller buttons, I painted them with a mixture of Everclear and the gold luster.
Roll out a large 1/8" thick piece of the navy, cover, and cut away the shape of the coat. Use your original sized firm round tip Sugar Shaper to burnish in the crevices around the collar and arms. Attach buttons to coat and vest with a small brush and water.
For the neck scarf, or cravat if you're really fancy, I used black modeling chocolate and the small soft round tip chisel to create the illusion of fabric.
For an added bit of flair, a nod to Halloween and the Headless Horseman, I mixed some bright red, bright yellow, a touch of brown, and white color dusts with some melted cocoa butter to make a pumpkin colored paint.
Because it's a repeating pattern on the cravat, you really don't need to make the jack o' lanterns perfect. They'll look great as a whole. Using a fine line paintbrush, paint the outline, divide the two eyes, draw a line for the mouth, and fill it in.
Replace the base of the levitation device, create a hole where the cord plugs in, and because the coat has a hood, simply plug in the device, and add a rounded sheet of the navy modeling chocolate/fondant mix and attach it to the collar, covering and concealing the cord. You can add feet to the base of your cake board and run the cord through a small hole next to the back of the cake to conceal the cord, or you can just place your cake in an area where the cord is concealed.
All that is left is the bloody neck splatters and covering the base. I colored some modeling chocolate with super red, chocolate brown, super black gel colors. Roll your chocolate as thin as you can get it because you want to get as much height on the levitation effect as you can! Cover the base and the top of the cake that is still uncovered. Now make some splashes and drips of blood by rolling various sized tubes of the modeling chocolate, tapering one end, and shaping with your fingers. Attach to the cake and remove seams by marrying the drips to the red chocolate with your soft square tip chisel.
When you're ready to add the head, carefully get the levitation platform into position. If you get it wrong, the magnets will pull it down, mar your chocolate and you'll have to smooth it out again. This is a good reason to use modeling chocolate instead fondant here. Once you have it levitating, again, slowly and carefully place your cat head. If you've done it correctly, you'll be in business! If it is off balance and spins out of control or keeps falling, don't fret. This is why I encourage you to test it out many times after you've sculpted the head. It can be a challenge, but all is not lost...You can cut away pieces of the neck, drive pieces of skewers into the bottom on a side that is too light...get creative with it and you'll get it. There's no exact way to do it. You're relying on a device that uses magnetic forces to create actual levitation. It's magic....but it's tricky! I've spent absurd amounts of time trying to get a piece to levitate to the point of giving up, but as you use it more, and I'm betting you will, you'll begin to understand it more.
I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial and find creative ways to make TRUE gravity defying pieces of edible art! Thanks, BOILS and GHOULS, for letting me be a part of your Halloween season!
Was that a spooktacular tutorial, or what? October's only just begun, and we're betting Andrew's got some more creepy confections up his sleeve! Follow Guy Meets Cake on social media to keep up with all his twisted treats and devilish delights!