Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Castle Cake

Happy Birthday Kendra!!!!
Last weekend my family and I had the privilege to spend a few hours with the amazing Jamie Zanotti of JAZ Photography out of Eugene, OR. She is not only an incredible photographer, but she LOVES Jesus with her whole heart, adores people and capturing their memories, is an amazing wife and a beautiful example of a mom, and she is my husband's cousin! :) BONUS! - she's family! :) She took us downtown last weekend to capture some sweet family memories! I'm dying to see the pics, but will have to wait a few more days!! ;)

The reason I bring all that up is because this weekend, my daughter and I headed south to Eugene to Jamie's daughter's 7th birthday party!! - and my gift to her was a castle cake! :) Perfect for a sweet little princess having a Renaissance Themed party! Here is Jamie's post on the cake (click here).
There were two different little staircases on the cake. One seen here (above) facing the front, and a little staircase just like it in the back of the cake. The staircases were my favorite part of the cake!!! - and Jamie's too! I actually had planned to make them out of rice crispy treats, but after spending an hour on them, I decided that wasn't going to work...it was a bit too lumpy and not quite "perfect" enough...despite crumb coating it in buttercream and everything. So, my husband ate those and I sat there thinking how else I could make them! - then it hit me (thank you Jesus!) - I had some white modeling chocolate that would work beautifully!! So, I rolled it out about an inch thick, laid my stair template on it and cut them out with a sharp exacto knife...and voila', perfect little stairs! Note to self for the future!

Also, I had another issue with fading gel colors! URGH! I tinted the buttercream for the flowers on the ivy a pretty fuchsia color and piped the flowers on there. Unfortunately I didn't get pics of the cake in Portland because I was SO late and just wanted to get there. On the way down, sitting in the sun, all the flowers faded to a gray! :( Such a bummer!! It's just like Maddie's Cake when the fondant faded. Seriously...someone needs to invent something to fix that...so frustrating!!! :)

I used a good amount of styrofoam on this cake because they were expecting only about 25 people (mostly kids) for the party...and I wanted a grand cake! ;) The base of the cake was a 10" square cake with alternating layers of vanilla and chocolate cake with strawberry buttercream. The second layer was a 7" styrofoam tier. The third tier was a 4" round cake with alternating layers of vanilla and chocolate cake with strawberry buttercream. The fourth/top tier was a 2-1/2"x6"h styrofoam tube. All the tall castle keeps were styrofoam foam (I ordered everything from Dallas Foam). The four at the base of the cake were 2"round x 6"high and the remaining three were 1-3/4" x 6" high (perfect for fitting the sugar cones). I have ordered lots of styrofoam from Dallas Foam and highly recommend them. They can do anything! - custom sizes you name it...it's SUCH a time saver! I think each castle keep was $1.50 or something...which was a huge time/cost savings! In order to apply the fondant to styrofoam, I rubbed Crisco all over the surface of the styrofoam, cut a rectangle of fondant that would wrap around it, then laid the styrofoam "tube" on the edge and rolled it up. It worked beautifully!
The turrets were another element of the castle I really loved! Although, again, it took some trial and error...and lots of time (each one took me about 30 min to make), they really made the cake! I tried several other designs before settling on this one. I wanted it to be roof-like, but not cottagy-like (if that's a word)! :) So, I used sugar cones because I liked the thin cone look (and it made it easy). I wrapped them in strips of modeling chocolate and cut the design in each layer with an exacto knife. I took some pics of the process...scroll down for a little tutorial to make your own.
For the tops of the walls, I wanted the traditional castle tops with the cutouts, but I wanted it slightly more feminine and not so rectangular. So, I used the cutter on the far left seen here. It's by FMM and called "Straight Frill Cutters, Set 3". I love this set...I've used it on several other projects too including my scalloped cake.

Details details details - they make beautiful cakes stunning! - and I sooo wished I could have had the time to add more!! The rocks were black and gray fondant swirled together and torn off and just slightly rolled in my hands. The water was blue fondant I painted over with some shades of blue and brown gel colors mixed with vodka to get the water look. The cobblestone pathway at the front and side entrances were lots of random shaped white balls rolled and flattened together. No impression mats used here! :) - although I had borrowed some...they just didn't fit the scale of the project. Thanks anyway Deborah! :)
Again, there were SO many more elements I wanted to add to this cake, but my sweet baby girl got a doozy of a fever and didn't want me to put her down for two days...so, a lot had to be eliminated from the scope of the project. I don't know what I would have done if Jamie was an actual paying client! - it confirmed that a cake business is NOT for me right now! :) I had planned to put the castle on a cliff, flower boxes under the windows, a draw bridge, some sign posts, etc etc. Lots of plans, not a lot of time! Fortunately my sweet cousin didn't mind one bit and understands the unexpected nature of kids and their sicknesses! :)

It is amazing how we can have our days planned out, or our cake projects planned out (our entire lives planned out for that matter), but it is the Lord who directs our steps! I kept thinking of Proverbs 16:9 and how relevant it is to me every day! I am SUCH a planner!! - and it seems every time I make a cake, something happens unexpectedly that calls for a new course of action...especially being a mom...nothing is predictable! So, I offered up this cake and all the details and plans I had for it and knew that no matter what, it would be a blessing to my sweet cousin and I needed to be with my baby for those two days...just loving on her, holding her and singing to her...not wishing things were different, because I can't control that...I can only control my attitude about the here and now. And, what's funny is that after all was said and done, the cake didn't need a big cliff, a draw bridge, some cool little sign posts and flower boxes. I got to spend the time I would have been making those things with my kids (or sleeping!)...and that's the plans the Lord had for me this week! God is always gracious and there were MANY times I saw His loving hands upon my heart and upon this cake throughout the week! Thank you Jesus for your goodness...and for pulling me through!! ;)

Let's get to the "How to's"!
How to make turrets for a castle cake! - The Jessicakes way!


Step 1 & 2: Flip the sugar cone onto some modeling chocolate and trace around it to create a base for the turret. Smooth the edges a bit so it's nice and even.
You can use water or some gumtex glue to get everything to stick. To make the glue, take about a 1/4 tsp of gum-tex (or Tylose powder), mix it with 2 Tbsp of warm water and let it sit in the fridge overnight. It won't dissolve right away...it'll look clumpy, but don't worry. In the morning it looks great! It works beautifully to give you extra hold when water isn't quite strong enough.

Step 3: Cut out 8-10 strips of modeling chocolate 6"wide by 1/2" high. I used my pasta machine and put it on number 4.

Step 4 & 5: Add some water/glue to the first strip and wrap it around the base of the cone trimming cleanly in the back. I pinched the top edge a bit against the cone to secure the strip.

Step 6: Use a sharp edge ( I used the exacto knife) to cut little slits in the first layer. As I pressed in, I lifted up slightly to bring that bottom edge out and up a bit...just slightly. You don't want to make the slits exactly the same distance apart...you want them to be a bit natural and uneven. Well, at least I did! :)


Steps 7-8: Continue layering the strips, cutting them cleanly in the back. Make sure to add the slit detail to each layer before adding the next one.

Step 9: To get the top finished, I cut out a small circle and quartered it. I then folded the cut edges together to form a little cone and placed it on top.

And you're done! Does it look like a Christmas tree??! :) LOL! :)

Now, there is a "lesson learned" with these! I made these several days ahead of time and had them sitting on a cookie sheet with some plastic wrap draped over them...not sealing them tightly. When I went to attach them to the cake, two of them had started splitting in the back!! YIKES! See below:
They were cracking along the cones seam. As the cone and fondant dried out it created the weak spot in the seam...when I moved it around, it cracked. SO, next time, either don't make them so far ahead, or put them in a plastic bag where they can be sealed tightly to keep the moisture in.

I guess that's it! :) I hope you all found some helpful tips for when you try to make your own castle cake!! :)

Blessings!

55 comments:

  1. Abby told me to leave a comment and tell you, "We are thoroughly impressed and would not want to eat it!"

    The detail is pretty impressive--great job! We likey! :D

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  2. This is truly such a beautiful cake! Every little girls dream, I'm sure! I am an avid fan of yours, albeit a relatively new one, but I find your blog so inspiring! I love cake decorating too, but can only aspire to achieve the amazing results you have reached with your cakes! Amazing :o)

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  3. Your castle cake is absolutely beautiful! As a matter of fact, I've never seen anything from you that wasn't beautiful. Hope your little one is feeling better.

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  4. So beautiful. Thanks for the tutorial and the tip!

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  5. I just found your blog a couple days ago and I must say that I absolutely love it! Your works are beautiful and your tutorials are such a gift. Proverbs 16:9 is such a great scripture.

    Glad your little one is better and Keep up the good work! I will be a avid reader from here on out and I hope to gain half the cake decorating talent that you display.

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  6. Love this cake! I could have used this post a week ago. :) My little one turned 3 and had a princess party. I wanted a castle cake but was too scared to make it. I will have to give your cake a try sometime. Just love it!

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  7. This cake is so impressive! As always, you do such a clean and fantastic finish! And your positive attitude is inspiring!

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  8. Jessica your cakes are amazing. I love seeing your new creations and this one def tops the list. Our family fell in love with it and now my daughter in law wants me to make this for our grand daughter. Would you mind? I may change a few things but still wanted to get permission before I did. This tutorial is amazing! Thanks so much! Also, I am a bit confused about how you did the steps. Did you put the modeling chocolate over something? Thanks again!

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  9. Love it! With I had seen this before my rather pitful attempt at one!

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  10. Thank you! Yes, you can use my design as inspiration for your daughter in law! :) I put the modeling chocolate strips right on the cone with a little water or gumtex glue. I hope that clears things up! :)

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  11. Thanks Jessica for your reply but the part I was confused about were the stairs not necessarily the cones. I was curious as to what you ended up doing for the stairs since you said rkt's didn't work so well. Thanks so much for taking the time to give your input. I really appreciate it!! :)

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  12. Nancy: I used modeling chocolate for the stairs. I rolled it about an inch thick, laid my stair template on top and cut it out with an exacto knife. So, the stairs are solid modeling chocolate. Once I cut them out I bent them in a curve to match the curve of the tier they were sitting up against. There was a bit of a gap between the top of the stair (where the door was) and the tier next to it, but it looked totally fine! I hope that helps! :)

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  13. Ooooh yes that did help! I didn't realize they were solid modeling chocolate. Thanks so much for the clarification! :)

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  14. Wow that is amazing looking! That would go great with a Cinderella themed party! Having a princess party themed birthday party is a great idea to make your daughter and her friends feel like a princess for a day. The decorations, invitations, and activities you could do are endless. Having the right princess party supplies can add more fun and excitement for the special birthday girl!

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  15. Jessica, I've spend the last 2 days looking at your blog and I've decided that I'm your biggest fan and...yesssss,I'm coming back as 'you' in my next life...promise!!!

    Blessing for you always Jessica :)

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  16. Rosalinda: WOW! :) You are hilarious!! I'm so glad you're a fan and are finding helpful tips/tricks! :) Thank you for your sweet words! Many blessings to you too!!

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  17. This cake is so cool! You are way talented!

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  18. Beautiful cake Jessica! I want to try making it my self. I hope it comes out as beautiful as yours :)

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  19. awesome ,youve done it well ,i also bake my own practice ,i will try to make one as beautiful as yours thanks for d tips and lessons.

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  20. you are so good with details, I am very impressed!

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  21. Amazing!! Thank you so much for the easy to follow instructions. Making a friends wedding cake and gonna use this. Wish me luck! One question, the fondant at the top of the each castle layer, looks like it is cut at 1" width??

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  22. Nikki: Good luck with your friend's cake! :) Yes...I think it was about 1" wide. When you get the cake done, just use a little cardstock to cut the width/height like you like it depending upon your cake. Then, use that as a guide for cutting out your strips.

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  23. I love your cakes....I cant wait to try crumbcoating with ganache....i think it makes a big difference.

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  24. This cake is amazing! I'm not up to this level, but I'm going to try something similar for my daughter's birthday. Can I ask two questions? First, how did you make the doors? It looks woodgrain in the pictures. Incredible. Second, is modeling chocolate dough-y like fondants? I've never tried it, but it sounds like you used it more than fondants for the details. Thanks so much for sharing all the details!

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    1. Thank you!

      The doors are fondant that I painted with some brown gel food coloring mixed with vodka. Yes...modeling chocolate when warmed by kneading gets just like fondant. It starts our rock hard, but gets beautiful as you knead it! You can also mix modeling chocolate and fondant!

      Best wishes!

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  25. Love this tutorialand your beautiful cakes,You are a true Artist! I had to join you right away :-) please visit my blog here http://tortedafavoladiomaduck.blogspot.it/
    I share tutorials as well, Ciao Tina

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  26. Hi Jessica, i love your cake.. i'm looking tutorial for castle i never found like yours. I have a 1st project castle for ausgust, and i want make hello kitty castle i have to keep read from yours and hopefully it will more less like your:) i just hope you are in australia so you can become my mentor.I love your hearth and you are wonderful mom n women of God. Jesus Bless You

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  27. Wow, that is just amazing. Teuely an amazing talent God has given you there.
    How long did it take to do?

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  28. What do you typically use for banners for the greetings?

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    1. I roll out fondant real thin, form it over some rolled up paper towels, then let it lay out for a couple days.

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  29. Hats off for this wonderful creativity!

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  30. Firstly I have to say that your cakes are beautiful!!!

    It's my daughter's birthday in November and I would love to attempt this cake for her Disney Princess Party.

    However, I've only made two fontant cakes before, but I'm up for the challenge.

    Are there elements of this cake you can make weeks in advance and keep them for when you assemble the cake? My daughter is four and son is 10 months, so time is not always on my side :)

    Lindi

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  31. I just wanted to thank you for the Dallas Foam tip. I've always wanted to buy cake dummies but thought they were just too expensive. For instance at the local cake specialty store in my area (1)4" high by 6",8" and 10" round costs more than $17.00. I just purchased these same products from Dallas Foam for $6.30 That's a HUGE savings. Thank you again...

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  32. Hi there ! Your blog is absolutely AMAZING !!! Ummm HELLO WOW !! Your cakes are works of excellence and you seem to be one of the sweetest ladies ever !! Thank you mentioning about the whole planning thing..how you took care of your daughter and left the cake in God's hands...I really NEEDED to hear this from someone with your kind of talent..and heart...THANK YOU ! God Bless you to bits !!

    I'm sooo new at cake decorating...and you make it look so easy...praise God for the way He speaks through you to us...it's truly impacting ! It's like getting a devotional and a cake lesson all at once !! Love it !

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    1. Hello there!! :) WOW, you sound so super sweet too!! Thank you SO much for sending me this little encouraging comment! May the Lord bless your socks off for blessing me so much with your sweet words! Yes...to God be the glory for everything in my life!! I hope I can just keep shining His love into whomever stumbles on my blog! :)

      Blessings!!
      Jessica

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  33. Hi Jessica! I really love this cake and Im attempting to make one for my daughters birthday.Are the walls of the cake covered with modeling chocolate or is that fondant? Thank you!

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    1. Best of luck to you!! They are fondant! :) Have fun!

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  34. How much does one castle cake like that cost??

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    1. No idea! :) It was a gift to a friend.

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  35. How did you order from Dallas Foam? With the towers sizes (2"x6" etc), did you have to call to order those sizes?

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    1. Yes, just call them...they're wonderful!

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  36. Hi Jessica, l love your blog! AMAZING!!!! I am keep coming to your page to see your tutorial of the castle cake. My daughter birthday is coming soon and want me to make castle cake.. Can you please tell me how did you make the rim of turrets and cakes? Especially the front turrets or do you have tutorials of making turrets. .. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you!
      The purple turrets are shown above in some pictures so hopefully you can see those and they're easy enough to follow. The towers are styrofoam I ordered from Dallas Foam (http://www.dallas-foam.com/store/cakedummies.html). They'll make any size you need. I just wrapped them with fondant and put on a top trim piece I made with a cutter...but you can make that top trim just using a small circle cutter. I hope that helps! Blessings!

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  37. Thank you for the tip! Much appreciated...
    You have unique way of decorating the cakes. I noticed that you offers classes. Can you tell me for how long if I enrolled to one of those decorating.

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    1. The Craftsy classes you own for life and can watch as many times as you want. They are each around 3 hours and are filled with tons of great info on all my tips and tricks! They are half off with the links above. I recommend Clean and Simple first. Blessings!!

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  38. In a word... WOW! Spectacular artistry.

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  39. This cake is fab. Just wondered if you covered the cakes as a whole or individual walls? Im making something like this for a friend and not sure whether to do it as a whole then cut out the cake to fix the towers or fix the towers then fit wall prices as individuals? Hope that makes sense

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    1. I covered each cake separately. The base cake had it's corners carved out before crumb coating and covering in fondant. Then I just used melted white chocolate to attach the towers. I hope that helps!! Have fun!!

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  40. Perfect cake. It doesn't need any more details. It is awesome the way it is. Congratulations:)

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  41. Awesome cake! How long before did you bake the cake before delivery?

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  42. Thanks!
    About three days. Blessings!

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  43. Hello Jessica, stunning cake I do have a question please we two actually, firstly the towers at the base of the castle how did you fix the fondant walls round the turrets and I notice some fondant supports under the walls attached to the tower what did you do to get that look - thank you

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  44. فنانة وتصميم أكثر من رائع ..إن امتلكت كعكة مثلها سأحتفظ بها أكبر وقت ممكن للتمتع بروعة تصميمها .

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