I’m getting a bit nostalgic. My Medium son is turning 9 in just a couple days and I’m planning his cake, so naturally I’m thinking back on what I’ve made in the past and trying to get all kinds of original.
Well that reminiscing took me back to my oldest (Big) son’s 8th birthday cake… Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Greg Heffley. I pulled out a few pictures to share over on Facebook and realized it would make a great behind the scenes ditty over here 🙂 (better late than never, eh?)
My process was a bit different but it worked out perfectly. I will preface all of this by saying that the structural make up was done with the help of Mike McCarey’s Bobblehead cake Craftsy class
That was the only structure class I’ve ever taken and it was literally on in my kitchen the whole time I was designing and learning how to make cake truly defy gravity. Mike is a cool cake genius!
We have all the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and each of my boys has read them infinite times so I was able to ask for an image where Greg was falling or off balance. Voila! Kidlets turned right to the page!
I used this book sized illustration to create a a real 3d model of Greg to scale. I used Crayola Model Magic to sculpt with. This stuff is magic and I use it for lots of things including my sugar flower centers. It’s light weight and dries quickly. And if you’re in a pinch and need the kidlets to quiet down and be occupied – give ’em some of this cool stuff!
After creating him to the small book size, I photographed him from 8 angles:
Let me talk about the black and white images for a sec… Well, if you’re familiar with Greg Heffley you know the books are black and white. No gray, in fact. SO I wanted to see him as flat and colorless as possible when I was planning and creating. So I printed my large blown up copies in black and white. I went to a copy shop to do it since they have bigger paper sizes. I increased each image dimension so that when printed and taped together it would be the same size as I wanted it to be in real cake. (see images father down)
This habit stuck. This is how I construct all of my gravity defying cakes now. Photos, blown up to the right size, structure sketched over top with measurements listed for each integral part. This is what makes sense to me now for cake blueprints. Yep. We’re cake engineers round these parts and we require blueprints.
***Because I learned the exact structure and structural components from Mike McCarey’s Bobblehead class, I won’t divulge that info here. It’s just not cool to do those things to other cakers. But you can get his class HERE.)
My structure is coated in white chocolate here and you can see two of my blown up prints on the wall behind as visual reference. I always ALWAYS keep these right in front of my work area. If I’m ever unsure of an angle, a thickness, or how close one element is to another, these are the perfect tool to guide me.
After the white chocolate to cover the structure, I applied my modeling chocolate. Take note, I did this before I added the cake on top and began carving/coating. The rest of the structure would be getting fondant-ed as well, but getting the base modeling chocolate on before hand would eliminate how much movement the structure would experience after the cake was applied.
A little RKT under the base of the head to round his noggin out. Yes, that angle is true and his backpack cake was leaning like that. When you know the limits of your medium (cake and buttercream) you can push it farther than most 🙂
Of course he got fondant-ed (heaven help me fondanting an oval/sphere…) and he needed things like hands and feet and a cool base board. All of which I completed but they aren’t the stars of this show 😉
He was then refrigerated until the next day when we delivered him to my parents house where we were hosting Medium’s birthday party. That was easily the most nerve wracking delivery I had experienced up to that point. It was my first ever structured cake, let alone one that was on a single bent leg!
Needless to say, he made it without any problems. And he was delicious. Orange Dreamsicle buttercream with a buttermilk vanilla cake (recipe from Mike McCarey’s class materials).
There’s Big with his 8th birthday cake. Just for size comparison. Greg measured 32 inches tall at the top of his topsy-turvy cakes (which were also real cake).
This was a turning point in my caking career. It is what brought me into my love of exploration and fearless pursuit of what I haven’t yet accomplished. I highly encourage jumping off into the unknown with wild abandon (when you can)!