Monday, July 2, 2012

Ask Alice

"Ask Alice, when she's ten feet tall.  Ask Alice.  Ask Alice"   Can you hear it?  The entire time I was making this cake I had Jefferson Airplane stuck in my head. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, click here)  It's kind of crazy what we store in our mental hard drive.  Anyway...on with the post.

Have you ever needed an icing image, but didn't want the cake to look so sterile?  Sure I could have had an icing image printed for Alice and the other characters on this cake, but I wanted it to look more hand made.  The trick was to give it that hand drawn quality and still capture the essence of the character.  Some cake artists could just eyeball the characters, I'm sure.  I, however, need a little assistance.  I might not be able to draw these characters free hand, but I am good at tracing.  Let's get started.  Here's what you'll need.

  1. Some images of the characters, sized properly for your cake.  I used the computer to enlarge or shrink the images to the desired size.
  2. A piece of clear glass or acrylic that is the size of your image or larger.
  3. White fondant, rolled out very thin.  (Use plenty of corn starch when rolling out the fondant and make sure that the fondant is not stuck to the parchment before you start painting.  If it is stuck to the parchment, you'll be very sad when the image you carefully painted gets stretched out of shape when you try to remove it.  Trust me on this one.)
  4. A flat, bar shaped light.  (mine was an under-cabinet light)
  5. Food color paint and brushes.  (More info on food color paint can be found here)

I essentially created a makeshift light box for this project.  If you have a real light box, all the better!    Stack up the items as shown in the picture above.  Put the image on top of the glass.  Then put the fondant that has been thinly rolled out on parchment paper, on top of the image.
Take that stack of things and place it over the light.  You can see the blurred image of the mad hatter just enough to trace it.
Using a thinned down black food color paint and a tiny brush, I began to trace the image.  Once the tracing is done, the rest can be colored in.  This takes a light touch to keep from smudging the traced lines.  If necessary, let the tracing dry before coloring the image in.

Here's a picture with out the light behind.  It's a little easier to see what has been done.

Here's Alice at about the same stage.

Cut around the images and let them dry for awhile.  Since I was placing them on a curved surface, I waited just long enough that I wouldn't smudge the image.   If you put them on a flat surface, they could dry until the fondant is hard.  In that case they could be made as much as a week in advance and stored out of the sunlight.
To attach them to the cake, brush the back side with a little water and then gently press them onto the cake.  They can be added to either fondant or buttercream.  The Mad Hatter was definitely my favorite!