Monday, June 20, 2011

How to Make a Pirate Ship Cake and Treasure Chest Cake

What young boy doesn't want a pirate ship for a cake?  And what party of kids don't want to devour a treasure chest made of cake and candies?  There are many wonderful pirate ship examples on the internet which I pondered.  The final choice was made by my son, though, who liked the look of a pirate galleon.  So here's my novelty pirate ship cake!
Pirate ship and treasure chest cake
This is an easy cake to put together.  The longest part is in the decorating - as always.

How to Build a Pirate Ship Cake

1.  I made 2 rectangular cakes (13x9 in.).  Chocolate seemed appropriate, as any crumbs coming through the frosting would be more wood-like.

2.  To get a substantial ship, I trimmed about 3 inches off the length of both cakes, making them each 13x6 in. rectangles.  

3.  Cut one cake into 3 pieces:  approximately 3x9, 4x9 and 5x9 (or 6x9, depending how much space you want between the rear deck and the foredeck).

4.   Stack the trimmed 13x3" pieces on top of the remaining 13x6" cake, holding it together with jam or frosting (I prefer jam - it's a little less sweet than frosting everywhere).

5.  Use the other trimmed pieces of cake to fill in the deck before stacking the top decks.

6.  Stack the short pieces as shown above, so the rear deck has two levels.  Trim the front of the cake into a "U" shape, making sure that you trim all the way to the bottom, sloping in at an angle (this works best if the cake is frozen).

With all the weight on the back of the cake, it tended to lean backwards, so I propped it up with a wedge of cake underneath the rear.

7.  Crumb coat the cake with chocolate frosting.

8.  Frost the entire cake in dark brown chocolate frosting.  I used a fork dragged through the frosting to give a plank-like look.

9.  Add the decor - railings, sails, cannons, etc.  I made the railings out of marzipan, tinted bright yellow. I rolled several ropes of the marzipan, cutting smaller sticks for the upright rails and keeping long ropes for the hand railing.  It would have been better if I had used pieces of toothpicks and rolled marzipan around them for the railings, but I didn't think of that until after.

10.  Stick the railings around the ship, then place the top railing, pinching at the joints to secure.
11.  Sails were made from chopsticks (can also be bamboo skewers) and paper sails.  The pirate sail template was downloaded from the internet, printed on white paper, cut out and run onto the masts.  Flags were cut out of the same paper.  

12.  I used Rollos as the cannon holders on either side of the ship.  Candles were stuck into them for cannons and lit at the party.  Two Rollos put together make great barrels for the deck, and malt balls piled up are fantastic cannon balls.

13.  Add any other decorations you like - windows, pirates (I couldn't find my son's small plastic pirates so I went plain), swords...

14.  Tint more frosting blue and spread roughly around the ship as the ocean.  Populate the ocean with gummy crocodiles, sharks or fish - whatever you can find!

Of course, a pirate ship is not complete without a treasure chest somewhere!  I decided to add one on an island of it's own (easily transportable on a plastic plate).  

How to Make a Treasure Chest Cake
1.  Bake or buy a small loaf cake.  I used a mini queencake loaf.  Any yellow cake or pound cake will do.

2.  Cut the top off cleanly, just below where it starts to mound.  This will be the lid.

3.  Scoop out the middle of the cake in a square.  Crumble what you remove and use it as sand on the beach.  Place the treasure chest on top.

4.  Ice both pieces with chocolate frosting.  It is not necessary to frost the inside of the chest cavity.  Rake with a fork, as you did the ship, to look like wood planks.  Place the lid so that it looks like the chest has just been opened.

5.   Add blue frosting as ocean lapping on the beach.

6.  Fill the treasure chest with candy treasure!  M&Ms, Rockets, Skittles, chocolate gold coins and silver decorating balls all make good treasure.  Use silver balls to make ropes of silver throughout the chest and dripping over.
Set it on the party table and watch the kids enjoy devouring it!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Backhoe Cake - the easy way!

Once in awhile I just can't figure out how to do a 3D cake, or I just don't have the time, or a 2D will do just fine!  When one son turned 2, he wasn't really at the age to appreciate 3-dimensional cake work; he thought anything sweet was great!  So I made a simple backhoe cake.  (Is this a true backhoe?  I think perhaps the digger should be in the back and a scoop in front.  But the 2 year old didn't know!)

1.  Bake a cake in a 13"x9" pan.  Any kind of cake will do!
2.  Make frosting/icing.  Basic buttercream is fine.  Divide into 3 or 4 portions and color as desired.  As you can see, I used blue, pale yellow, bright yellow and grey.  (I didn't yet have black food coloring so couldn't get a good black for the outline and tires.)
3.  Draw a backhoe, or print a drawing of it and cut out.  I drew mine freehand from pictures - whether I looked at good pictures, or am a good freehand drawer is not the debate here!  It's just for fun, and will be eaten in a few minutes anyway!)
4.  Put the cut out on the cake and use a knife to trace the outline.
5.  Fill in the big areas with yellow frosting.
6.  Using a star tip on a decorator's tube, pipe in the sky and the sand.
7.  Go over the traced line with grey or black frosting, piped through a decorator's tip (small round tip).
8.  Pipe in a steering wheel and tires.
9.  Use chocolate vermicelli and sprinkle under the backhoe to make dirt.
10. If desired, use a few dabs of white frosting to make fluffy clouds.

Ta da!

Obviously, you can be much more creative than this.  
One very simple way would be to make a basic sheet cake (or cake in a pan) and frost it to resemble dirt, or a field, or a road, then put small toy construction vehicles on top.  Some places sell them specifically as cake toppers, but any new (or clean) toy will work.  

 Or put a backhoe toy on the cake, on a road, perhaps with a Hot Wheels car coming the other way, and make sure these adorable construction cone candles are on the cake warning the oncoming traffic!

Want to just have the whole cake as the vehicle?  Then try a pan made for the occasion, like this Wilton Dump Truck Pan.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Easter Cake

Easter tomb cake

OK, this may not be the most creative novelty cake, but I wanted something quickly for the cast of an Easter play.  I made a round layer cake and frosted it yellow (being a good spring color), but thought it was too plain.  Since the play dealt with Easter (the cross, the tomb, resurrection), I grabbed some leftover marzipan, mixed it with some cocoa powder and shaped it to look rock-like.  Grabbed some white flowers to complete the decoration.  (I guess the main part of the tomb is off the cake - this is just the rock that was rolled away from the entrance!)