I made this Baby Elephant cake at a course at a professional cake shop.
I was attracted to the course because the cake looks so amazingly professional AND I was pregnant with my second baby at the time!
Sometimes cakes are often deceiving. They might look so fantastically complicated but actually only be the simplest on design.
This was one cake that did teach me a few new techniques and equip me with a new confidence. But it was actually just a few simple steps broken down.
Here is my impressive looking cake!
In the course, we firstly coloured our fondant. We were recommended to choose a soft pastel colour so I chose green as I didn’t know the gender of my bub.
(It was a few months before I was due but I was hoping to save the cake for my baby shower! While that sounds gross, I did actually freeze it and defrost it for the shower unbeknownst to my friends.)
We coloured heaps of fondant and then covered our cake board. While I had done this before, it was great to learn how the pros do it. They showed me how to use the shell tool to form a nice patterned edge on the side of the cake board so it seals the edge off but also looks pretty and hides any flaws. Simply press it down gently enough to leave a print, but not pierce through to the board.
We also stacked 2 choc mud cakes (without any supports or dowels) and ganashed the cakes and let them set in the fridge.
While they were setting, we started on the baby elephant. This was where I feel like I could have worked out the basics on my own, but it was nice to have a professional show us how they do this quickly and consistently in their professional cake shop.
All of our elephants turned out looking slightly different and with different ‘personalities’ which was cute! The biggest lesson I took out of this part of the class was about the eyes…
Round eyes on figurines look fake.
So how do you avoid that? Mould them slightly to an oval shape. It makes all the difference!
Next was the blocks. We were given a specific amount of white fondant and shown how to form the perfectly square blocks… ok so this was really hard for me! If I squared off one side, I ended up rounding or distorting the opposite side.
Yes it was frustrating! I think it’s a skill that takes a while to perfect.
There were no tools, just using our hands and the bench to square the sides off.
All the students were able to choose what name to write on their blocks (which obviously determined how many blocks to use). Then the letters was almost a frustrating for me.
My “B” and “A” didn’t cut all the way through so I had to manually cut out the hollow parts of the letters… which didn’t work well! And it took ages!
Doesn’t help that I really fuss over that sort of stuff to make it look just right! 😉 So the instructor gave me a great solution and helped me out with a cutter about the right size.
Covering the Cake
As this was such a tall cake, it was hard to roll out a piece of fondant that was wide enough to cover the whole height. We were shown how the fondant stretches as it hangs while it is being sealed onto the ganashed sides.
I did have some help from the instructor with this part but surprised myself with no rips or tears and a neatly covered cake! Woohoo!
The green strips that really inject colour onto the cake were so easy. Just rolled out fondant and cut with a sharp knife and ruler as a guide. We started sticking them on at the bottom and met them all at the top so the joins could be hidden.
We then rolled out a long snake of white fondant to seal off the finished fondant at the bottom of the cake.
Rolling the snake was also a skill I learnt that day. While that sounds a bit nuts, we were shown how to keep the snake that same side by using corn flour on the bench and only working from the middle of the snake. Don’t work the ends, they will form themselves if you just keep rolling from the middle. Simple!
While this sounds like cheating, the flowers were actually pre-purchased by the cake shop. I questioned this with the shop owner (aka head cake decorator) and he said he can buy them, already perfectly made for a fraction of the cost for his team to make them… fair enough. So I was given 2 flowers and inserted them into the cake, after wrapping the stems in foil.
Freezing the cake
Like I said earlier, I had no reason to hack into this giant cake so I wanted to save it for closer to my bubs’ due date. I gently lifted the decorations off the cake and the board, and then lifted the cake off the board.
I wrapped it loosely in cling wrap all over (including the uncovered cake on the bottom) and put it in the freezer. We have a second upright freezer so it was no trouble fitting it in.
The pros had told me that there was no risk in freezing the covered cake EXCEPT that the green colouring might run. But dark colours would be worse. So it was pretty lucky that when I defreosted it two days before my baby shower (just by sitting it still covered on the bench) there was NO DAMAGE at all! Win!
On the day of the baby shower, I just needed to put the cake back on the same spot on the cake board. I rolled a new white snake on fondant to seal the cake off and replaced all the decorations.
Hi, I'm Christine!
I started this blog because I love talking about cake!
I love trying new recipes, designs and techniques - and I would love to share my findings with you.
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