I saw lots of cake pictures of different castles and decided on a more 3D cake design than my previous cake. This castle cake weighed in at about 10 pounds I'm sure! Here's the cake picture, made for my youngest and enjoyed by his entire school:
This was a lot of cake! And it was also my first attempt to make a fondant cake (fear, trembling!) But the actual cake design is simple. The time factor is largely in the decorating. To build the cake:
Step 1: Make or buy lots of cake! I started with 3 9x9 inch square cakes. Any flavor will do (my favorite is chocolate). For the towers, I bought 4 loaf cakes (madeira cake is sturdy enough for this).
Step 2: Stack 2 of the 9-inch square cakes on top of each other, with a layer of jam or frosting in between. Tint buttercream frosting grey and lightly frost all over. Put a heavier layer of frosting on the top.
Step 3: Cut the third square cake into 4 equal pieces. Stack on top of each other, with jam or frosting in between, and place in the center of the larger cake. Crumb frost all over, with a heavier layer on top.
Step 4: Carve the 4 loaf cakes into round towers. It sometimes helps to freeze the cakes for a bit to make them easier to carve. To round them, simply slice the long edges of the cake off. You will end up with a hexagonal cake. From there you can smooth the edges by shaving them down until the cake is completely round. Crumb frost the cakes.
Step 5: I used wooden skewers, cut into 2, to stick the towers onto the sides of the cake. This is important to the cake design as without them, the towers will become "leaning towers of Pisa" and eventually fall over. You are now ready to do the final cake decorating!
CAKE DECORATING IDEAS
There are such beautiful pictures of fondant covered cakes everywhere on the web and in cookbooks, and I have always been envious of how professional they look. But I was always afraid to try it, particularly since it is not easy to get pre-made fondant here. But with this cake I finally gave it a try. I began with a recipe I found for rolled buttercream fondant. I tinted it grey (had to have the Wilton's black food coloring to do this), then rolled it out. It would be a good idea to make a double batch, as I ended up a bit short and had to roll the fondant very thin (which ripped quite easily - helped give it a "ruined castle" type of look!).
To Put the Fondant on the Cake
There are a couple of options. If you have enough fondant you could drape both squares completely with it. Since I didn't have enough, I rolled the fondant out and cut it into rectangles. First I covered the towers with fondant (laying it over the top and down the sides, then smoothing it into place around the tower). Next, I cut rectangles to fit the sides of the cake and smoothed them onto each side, one at a time. Where the walls joined the towers, I smoothed them together as best as I could. I did the same for the top square turret. On the top edges (the battlements), I lay a thin roll of fondant and pressed it together to hide the edge of the fondant and make a smooth transition to the buttercream courtyard.
Final step in the fondant decorating - the bricks! I tried a variety of caps and toys before settling on a Lego piece to imprint a brick shape on the walls of the castle.
MORE CAKE DECORATING IDEAS
The door and drawbridge are also from fondant, colored brown with cocoa powder. I have also found marzipan to work well in cake decorating, and could have made the doors and battlements from that if needed. The flags were made from toothpicks and paper.
When the cake was presented to my son, it was surmounted by 2 plastic knight action figures, bought at a local toy store. (This was a part of his birthday present!) When we took the cake to school, we removed the knights and replaced them with candles. Leftover gumdrops and fondant were placed around the castle as rocks and miscellaneous decoration (bushes maybe?).
If you want some easier options, or ones that look really cool, check out these fabulous cake pans and cake decorating kits! I wish I had them all, they look so amazing!
Stay tuned for more cake ideas!