Monday, March 18, 2013

Rohio and Juliet Cake (balcony and stage)

I recently took a 2-week course in Sugarcraft - making and working with fondant, decorating techniques, etc.  It really helped take the fear out of fondant for me!  As a result, when it came time to make a special cake for for 90 people for our cast party, I was set!  The play, "Rohio and Juliet," was a Kenyan musical — kind of a "Romeo and Juliet" meets "West Side Story" in Kenya.  It was fabulous, and so I wanted to have a special cake for all those who worked so hard on it.  Here's the end result.

Rohio and Juliet cake:  with elements of the stage design

Top of cake with gun and rose, based on the program design

The entire cake weighed 11 kg - a total of 7 cakes!  That was enough to feed 90 people happily, and provide plenty of fun as the fondant decorative items were divided out.  One fun aspect of this cake was the edible photos.  Using a printer, the decorator shop I took the sugarcraft class from (Sweet Inspirations - check out their wonderful cakes!) printed out several photos of the cast taken during the run of the play.  I had presized them to the cake and used them as decorative elements on the top two layers.
edible photos placed all around the cake
People had fun asking for pieces of themselves to eat!  One of the first things I learned in the class was how to make fondant roses, so of course I had to have those on the cake.  Also, one of the main design elements on the play publicity was the image of a gun and rose, wrapped in vines and leaves, so of course I had to put that on the top of the cake!  
the fondant gun

Making a Fondant Gun:
Step 1:  print out a template of your chosen gun design.  Just do an internet search to find the drawing and size you want (you can also resize on your computer before printing).

Step 2:  color fondant grey.  Pat out, smooth, a thick slab of the fondant and lay the template on top.

Step 3:  Using a sharp knife, cut out the gun following the outline of the template.

Step 4:  Using fondant tools (or whatever instruments you have for marking fondant), add the design elements (the cross-hatching, lines, etc.).

Step 5:  Paint the gun black, if desired, using black food coloring mixed with a little water.  Let dry.

Gun with vines
Once the gun was dry, I added the vines, leaves and roses.  For the vines, just roll out some green fondant in a thin rope and cut to desired lengths.  For this design, I used three ropes and draped according to the picture.  I did not put the vines under the gun, just tucked the ends into the bottom.  Then I used a tiny amount of royal icing to attach the leaves and the rose.

fondant gun and roses
The other fun design elements were the theatre stage curtains, the balcony (got to have a balcony for a Romeo-and-Juliet-type play!), and the corrugated iron (or mabati) sheets. 

How to Make Corrugated Iron Sheets (or Mabati)
Metal scaffolding and corrugated iron sheet backdrop
The corrugated iron sheets were a part of our background set, along with a metal scaffolding structure.  I wanted to use that element to frame the edible pictures on the cake.  I could probably also have made the metal barrels out of fondant, but thought that might have cluttered the overall design too much.  

mold for corrugated iron sheet
I found a great suggestion online about how to make corrugated iron sheets.  The person suggested making a mold out of dowels, so I looked around to see what I had that could be improvised into the right size corrugation.  I had lots of wooden skewers of different sizes and chopsticks.  The chopsticks were too thick, so I settled on the skewers.  These I glued onto a small square cake board. Then I colored some fondant grey, added some pastillage (great for stiffening fondant designs that need to stand firmly), and rolled out a rectangular piece.  This was then laid over the mold and pressed in firmly.  With another skewer (and also a fondant tool that was smooth) I pressed the fondant into the valleys made between the skewers.  Then I used a knife to trim the fondant to the appropriate size (in my case, 3" by 4" sheets).  These were then removed from the mold and placed on a rack to dry.  Once dry, I used black and brown food coloring to add texture and interest (and rust) to the sheets.

The finished corrugated iron sheets!
When drying, I draped the sheet ends over the rack bars to help give it a slightly rounded shape to fit around the cake.  I could have used plastic-wrapped fondant in the exact form of the cake to get a better final fit.

I attached the mabati pieces with royal icing on either side of the edible photos, and also evenly around the top layer of the cake (with the balcony).  To frame the edible photos, I used grey royal icing to pipe "metal scaffolding" pipes in each picture section.

The Romeo-and-Juliet Inspired Balcony
Romeo-and-Juliet type balcony

This balcony was quite easy.  
Step 1:  Taking grey fondant again and rolled out a thick rope for the bottom part, and shaped it into a slight mound, curving it to the shape of the top cake.

Step 2:  I rolled out another thick rope and cut it into 7 pieces for balustrades.  I ran a moistened toothpick through the middle of each and stuck them at even spaces into the bottom mold.

Step 3:  Rolled out another rope, then flattened both sides on the counter (turn the rope over once the bottom is flattened and flatten the remaining side).  This was then placed over the balustrades and draped down the side.  There was a small amount of toothpick still exposed on the balustrades that served to attach the top railing.  Attach the bottom of the railing with a little bit of water to the bottom side of the bottom mold.  Let dry!

How to Make Theatre Stage Curtains and Ropes
Stage curtains before rope and tassel

Again, these were quite simple.  

Step 1:  Take red fondant and roll it out fairly thin.  Cut into 2 equal rectangles (sized according to your cake).

Step 2:  Take each piece separately and fold into a drape.  Attach to the cake using water or royal icing (I felt royal icing would keep it more secure).  

Step 3:  Cut another rectangle, cut to fit the width of both curtains and the framing picture.  Gather the ends so that it drapes.  Attach to the top of the drapes.

Step 4:  Pinch in the sides of the curtains so that they look "drawn back."  You will then attach rope and tassels.

The finished curtains with ropes and tassels
Making the tie-back ropes and tassel   
To give the stage curtains a finished feel, and to finish off the top layer, I made fondant rope.  

Step 1:  Using brown fondant (color mix - yellow, blue and red!) roll out two thin ropes.  Twist the ropes together (around each other), then pinch off the ends.  

Step 2:  Size and attach over the curtains.

Step 3:  Roll a small ball of brown fondant and attach at the end of the rope. 

Step 4:  Making tassels -   roll out a very small square or rectangle of brown fondant.  Using a fondant knife or scissors, cut it into strips, almost to the edge, but make sure that you have an uncut strip holding it all together.

Step 5:  Moisten the top strip with a bit of water and roll the square up.  Pinch the top and attach to the ball.  This will give you the tassels hanging down.  Easy!

I rolled a thicker rope to wrap around the bottom of the cake to give it a more finished look.

For the cake itself, I made 7 cakes for the 3 different layers:  yellow, chocolate and orange, filled with orange buttercream, lemon buttercream and strawberry jam.  For crumb coating I used the lemon and orange buttercreams.  

Wooden dowels were very necessary to stack the cakes!  Then I placed the fondant roses and leaves around the cake, added the edible congratulations message, and used a grass fondant tool to finish off the fondant around the bottom layer. 

It was almost a crime to cut into the cake after all the work, but it was so much fun!  It was a great way to continue remembering the play that we all worked so hard on!


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