When I first started cake decorating the most impressive cakes were mad hatters and topsy turvy. Everyone wanted to know how to make those and I remember trying to make a few myself 🙂
Fast forward a couple of years and cakes start to defy gravity, they got crazier and their structures more insane. Sometimes it seems like you may need a degree in engineering, industrial tools or a personal tradesman to be able to build gravity defying cakes. But really, it’s all about good planning, a little common sense, a visit to the hardware store, being realistic and a little creativity with what’s available to you.
Below are some tips and hints to get you started but here is a little disclaimer – of course if you want a super gravity defying, floating, spinning, musical, jumping, dancing cake, you do need more professional equipment or advice. An option is to arrange a private consultation or class with an experienced decorator if you can afford the time. However, the below is a good way to get started and are the tips that I live by.
1. Plan and draw diagrams before you start! It is advisable to enlarge the picture of what you are planning to make to actual size to work out your structure strategy and which parts should or should not be cake.
Based on the actual sized picture you will also be able to work out how much cake you need for the project and how many servings you will get out of it. Allow for a loss of about 10% of servings. If you are in doubt about the servings, you can always provide a kitchen cake.
2. The hardware store is your friend. If you bring in pictures of what you want to create, most people there will be kind enough to help you work out the best way.
3. Make sure you have a strong base board like MDF wood to support your structure.
4. Always be realistic and consider gravity. Don’t try and fight mother nature. Also ensure you have enough weight at the bottom to balance out the weight at the top. Top-heavy cakes are possible but more stressful when it comes to transportation! If you want some tips on cake transportation, check out my blog post on 11 tips for stress-free cake deliveries.
5. When planning your cake design, think about small corners or odd shapes – how will you cover it? How will you hide the seams?
6. Ensure you use a dense cold cake. This makes it easier for carving and will ensure it does not fall apart if you need to build it around complicated structures. I love using a chocolate mud cake. You can find my recipe and more through my online recipe calculator.
7. Consider the size of the finished cake to determine what materials to use. If it’s smaller or not too complex you can get away with using wood or foam core. Have a more complex structure? Consider using metal or thicker pieces of wood.
8. It is advisable to weight test the structure. Place buckets of fondant on it overnight to check that it will be able to hold the weight of the cakes, ganache and fondant.
Then once you have built the structure or put the cake on it, give it a shake. Go on! A good nice shake too. If it falls apart, better it does that when you can fix it rather than during the delivery. Your structure should be able to withstand a good shake or two. If it can’t outlast that how will it deal with potholes, speed bumps and sharp turns?
9. It is far more important for the cake to get there in one piece rather for every single element to be edible – if you feel the need to substitute with styrofoam to give yourself peace of mind, do it.
10. Make sure you seal the structure to protect against the cake. You can do this by painting chocolate over the structure or wrapping with floral tape or cling wrap.
11. Hot glue is king! Invest in a good hot glue gun from a hardware store and glue the joins if needed as they sometimes can spin loose.
12. Make sure you take a picture of the structure or create a drawing for your client so they know how to cut the cake and what is edible.
I hope you find the above tips helpful and a great starting point for creating your own gravity defying cakes. Feel free to add your own below. Above all, don’t be afraid to practise and just give it a try! For now I leave you with the most recent gravity defying cake I made 🙂