Our featured guest this month is Seattle's own Jamie Louks of Jamie Nicole Cakes! Jamie is one of our hometown cake heroes, famed for her quirky sculpted cakes and imaginative approach to special requests. Combine Alice in Wonderland with the Green Lantern? Yup, she's got it. Zombies, sports, Coca Cola, and a rock band all in one cake? Not a problem.
Jamie's very first job at age 15 was at Basin Robbins and this, along with her intense love affair with sugar, inspired her to make desserts into her life's work. She has an obsessive urge to perfect every recipe and believes desserts should taste even more amazing than they look. (And that's a high bar with how amazing her desserts look!) Jamie has worked in some of Seattle's finest cake and dessert shops before taking her own business full-time. Today, she's showing us how she perfects the scale and proportions of a giant cake based on a tiny figure.
How to make a tiny object into a BIG cake
These are Meeples.
They are tiny, about 3/4" tall. I need this guy to be about x17 this size.
A Meeple is easily recognized by every board game geek on the planet. The proportions need to be spot on if this is going to be an amazing cake served to a room full of die hard board gamers.
Creating a giant version of a tiny object can be a difficult task. I've learned the hard way that rushing through planning creates something that is either too short/tall/fat/skinny or even 'WTF happened'! Don't let this happen to you. Dust off your handy calculator and #2 pencil, brush up on your middle school algebra and do it right from the beginning. Let's get started!
Templates: No, really- you need them.
If you can, find an image online that you can mess with on your computer. Print 2 of them, one for now and one for later. I found a meeple outline and then printed it in different sizes until I found one that my Sugarworks Sugar Structure fit into perfectly.
Trace an outline of your Sugar Structure onto your stencil keeping in mind that the top of the feet of the armature will be level with the cake board. (Pretend your cake is standing on the armature's feet).
The Cake and the Boards
Now decide where cake boards need to go and how many tiers are needed. Things to consider:
- Thickness of your cake boards
- Thickness of your cake layers (each tier could have different thicknesses to accommodate for proportion)
- Thickness of your filling layers
- Thickness of your final icing layer
- Thickness of your fondant covering
So many numbers to think about! Be sure to write them all down. Notes are your friend! Measure and draw where each cake board will go. This will definitely come in handy later. Don't forget to draw a line about 3/8" in from the edge to show frosting and fondant thickness.
You can repeat this process from a side view also. This dude was a pretty simple flat profile, so no need for another stencil.
From this stencil, you can now measure the size of each cake board, the size and amount of cake you will need to bake, and exactly where holes need to be in your boards and layers so your Sugar Structure will fit beautifully.
Now CHOP UP YOUR STENCIL! Alright, maybe don't 'chop' it up, but cut your stencil into its separate tiers so you can use them as guides while building.
You can also measure your straw supports off of this.
Place your cut straws in the tier, then frost on top of them. When you drop the next tier on top, you'll be right on target for a perfectly proportioned cake!
Zoom ahead to built cake, perfect height and ready to be shaped. Use stencil #2 that you set aside for just this reason.
Cut off 3/8" on all "frosted" surfaces of the stencil. Place this frosting-less stencil on the cake and trim any excess. After trimming, fill any gaps with cake spackle (cake crumbs mushed together with frosting), give it a good crumb coat, and chill well before final icing.
From this point, its easy peasy lemon squeezy. Final ice 1/4" thick, cover in fondant 1/8" thick, and decorate your little heart out.
Now pour yourself a glass of wine and admire your perfectly planned cake :)
We hope you've found this tutorial by Jamie helpful. Scaling up small figures to make large sculpted cakes is a daunting endeavor that can be intimidating for both new and experienced cakers alike. Jamie is a master of replicating pop culture icons, figures, and characters and we think this instructional is one of the best guides we've found for getting your proportions spot-on!