We’ve baked quite literally thousands of cakes at The Kitchen. Birthdays, anniversaries, celebrations of all descriptions including weddings and Christenings, baby showers and retirements.
We could however count on one hand the number of carved cakes we have made. We’ve admired them online, watched tutorials, geared ourselves up for the challenge but until now never quite had the confidence to advertise our skills for this type of cake.
When we were approached to make a Pug Dog cake our initial reaction was to make the dog’s face (or perhaps to print the image onto an edible icing sheet). Alternatively we could have modelled a small pug dog from sugarpaste to place on top of the cake. This customer however persuaded us that we could in fact make an entire cake in the shape of the dog and we accepted the challenge.
It’s easier to do this when the date the cake is required is still some time away. As the date approached a sense of foreboding set in along with the excitement. Watching an eleven part tutorial in part helped but also increased the sense of trepidation.
On D-Day itself the cakes were baked and stacked. Three nine inch rounds of vanilla sponge formed the body, with a further three seven inch rounds for the head. Using a sharp knife, some strategic cuts (and a few blobs of buttercream) made the basic shape from which the dog would be carved.
Creating the shape of the dog – front paws outstretched, head lying on them, bottom in the air – was easier than anticipated. Gently shaving away small pieces of cake at a time and constantly referring to images of the dog was the secret.
Once we had the basic shape the entire cake was covered with buttercream and chilled. Around 3kg of sugarpaste was coloured up and rolls of this were prepared ready to create the wrinkles typical of a pug. Out of the fridge these wrinkles were applied and once we were comfortable with our creation another coat of buttercream was applied. The coloured fondant was then rolled thin and used to cover what was now looking very like the cute pug we wanted it to be.
As we smoothed the sugarpaste, emphasising the wrinkles and trimming the excess, we also created the back paws. It wouldn’t be long before the fun began!
A few more “sausage rolls” added emphasis to the wrinkles round his eyes and forehead, before we added the black mouth and nose. A cheeky pink tongue was our own touch. The eyes were moulded from chocolate sugarpaste with black and white detail, before a very thin roll of black was used to line the eye sockets. Some bags under his eyes, and our pug only needed ears and claws to be complete. These were made from black modelling paste, and affixed with edible glue.
The finishing touches were applied with a paintbrush. Black and brown dusting powders to add colour, depth and detail, at the same time using our fingers to soften and blend the roles of sugarpaste, giving our pug the characteristically jowled appearance. The cake was then “set” with our trusty steamer before we stood back to admire our handiwork.
Making this cake was a challenge but a great experience. Maybe we will now have the confidence to offer carved cakes but please, no life sized Shetland Ponies just yet!