Saturday, May 8, 2010

Zombie Wedding Cake (Part 2)

This is the second half of this post.  For the first half please see this post.

The previous post was all about the baking and creation of the various pieces of the cake.  This post is about the decorations, decorating and assembly of the zombie wedding cake.

On the cake, in addition to the zombies, the bride and groom wanted cherry blossoms to match their wedding invitations.  These, along with the figures, were all made by my wife.  For more detail on the creation of these, you can check out her blog post about them.

Rolled out gum paste

The cherry blossoms were made out of gum paste.  To make the gum paste easier to work work, vegetable shortening was kneaded into the gum paste.  The gum paste was then rolled out into a thin sheet.

Gum paste circles

Then small circles were cute from the sheet of gum paste.

Rolling out the circles

The edges were then rolled even thinner.

Cutting out gum paste flowers

And a general flower shape cut out.

Shaping the petals.

The flower was then pressed out with a sculpting tool to give the petals a ruffled shape.

Shaping in an egg carton

The flowers were then places into an egg carton to give them a three dimensional shape.

Putting the stamens in

Pre-made flower stamens were added to each flower.

The cherry blossoms dry

Then the flowers dried overnight in their egg carton.

Finished cherry blossoms

Then my wife hand painted each flower with food coloring thinned out with vodka.

Foil armature for the figure

Next up my wife made the figures for the cake.  She made a bride and groom for the top of the cake, plus three zombies for the lower tiers of the cake.  The interior of the figures were made from aluminum foil in a rough shape of a person.

Covered armature

The foil armatures were then covered with super sculpy.  She chose to make them out of this inedible material since it would not only be easier to sculpt but the bride and groom could keep the figures indefinitely.

Zombie ready to be baked

Here is a fully sculpted zombie that is missing his left arm.  They were then baked in the oven to harden and painted.

Cakes ready for decorating

Here once again are the cakes.  The small chocolate cake in the front with a red velvet cake in the rear.  Each layer was trimmed to make it perfectly round and also the tops were leveled.

Orange filling on the cake

Here is the bottom layer of the 14 inch cake.  It was placed on a cardboard cake board.  To stop the orange filling from pushing out the sides of the cake when cakes were placed on top, some buttercream was piped around the edges.  Then the orange filling was spread evening on the layer.

Cake getting iced

The second layer of this tier was placed on top of the filling, with the bottom up.  Even with leveling, the bottom of the cake is mush smoother and more level than what used to be the top of the cake.  The buttercream icing is put on top the tier and then spread out and down the sides.

Fully iced cake

The buttercream icing is smoothed out as much as possible.  The cake then goes into the fridge to allow the buttercream icing to harden to make it easier to cover the cake with fondant.

Fondant covered cake

We decided to use the wedding white buttercream flavored fondant from Fondarific.  Fondarific is a specific brand of fondant that doesn’t dry out, gives you more time to work with it, and most importantly tastes great.  However, it does tend to be a bit stickier and harder to work with than normal fondant.  The taste though, makes it worth while, we found ourselves eating the scraps that got left over.

To cover the cakes, they were removed from the fridge after the buttercream was hard and not sticky to the touch.  I rolled out the fondant and made a rough covering of the cake, cutting off the excess with a knife.  However, as you can see from the image, it is very rough and bumpy.

Smoothing the fondant

My wife used a fondant smoother to make each tier smooth and have a good angle on the top.  Once each tier was completed it was boxed up and put back into the fridge.  A small sheet of non-slip shelf liner was put between the cake board and the box to stop the cake from sliding around in the cake box.

Cakes ready for transport

The next morning, the boxes were put in the back of our station wagon.  More non-slip shelf liner was used between each cake box and the floor of the car to stop the boxes from sliding around while driving.  The flowers, figures, and other decorating pieces were also packed up into the car.

Three tiers assembled

At the venue we started assembling the cake.  Here are the first three tiers.  In each tier hard plastic dowel rods were cut and driven into the cake to help support the weight of the upper tiers.

All four tiers ready for decorating

Here is the full cake without any decorations.

Ribbons going on the tiers

A green ribbon was attached to the bottom of each tier.  This ribbon makes a huge difference in the look of the cake.  The fondant is still very lumpy even after smoothing, but the ribbon makes the lumps a lot less noticeable.

Fully ribboned cakes

Here is the cake with all the ribbons attached to the tiers.

Bride and groom go on the cake

The figures were the next to go on the cake.  They were attached with bamboo skewers and royal icing.

Finished Zombie Wedding Cake

After all the figures were on, the cherry blossoms were attached using royal icing.  This is the final cake with everything on it.

Rear of the finished zombie wedding cake

Here is a view from the back side of the cake.

Cutting the Zombie Wedding Cake

And of course, here’s the bride and groom cutting the cake.

Zombie Wedding Cake (Part 1)

When some friends got engaged my wife and I jumped at the chance to make their wedding cake. The couple decided they wanted a zombie wedding cake reminiscent of the cake made by Mike’s Amazing Cakes.

This and the next post is about the making of that cake. This time I’ll focus on the baking and making of the cake and fillings. The next post will be about the decoration and assembly of the cake.

The wedding cake was a four tier stacked cake. The top and bottom layers were a chocolate cake with an orange filling and vanilla buttercream icing. The two middle tiers were red velvet cake with a Nutella-Valrhona ganache and vanilla buttercream icing.

For the chocolate cake, I used the High Ratio Chocolate cake from Baking and Pastry: Mastering The Art And Craft by the Culinary Institute of America. The cake contains more sugar and butter than a normal cake. It turns out very moist and quite chocolaty. The orange filling was adapted from a lemon filling from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.

For the red velvet cake, I adapted the Joy of Baking’s red velvet recipe. The Nutella ganache was adapted from the ganache recipe in Baking and Pastry: Mastering The Art And Craft. The vanilla buttercream was also adapted from that book.

The four cake pans

Here are the cake pans for the four tiers. Each tier was made from two layers of cake. The tiers were made from rounds that were 14 inches, 11 inches, 8 inches, and 5 inches in diameter.


This is a shot of a majority of the ingredients. Not everything is pictured here since I forgot to include some things, but this gives you the magnitude of the ingredients needed to make a cake of this size. Though it turns out I didn’t need quite that much cocoa, flour, eggs, or powdered sugar.

Parchment lined cake pan

Each pan needed prepared before receiving the cake batter. The pan’s bottom needs sprayed with a spray canola oil. Then a parchment circle is placed in the bottom. Then the whole thing get sprayed with a flour infused spray oil such as Baker’s Joy. This ensures that the cakes will release effortlessly from the pan after baking.

Chocolate cake dry ingredients

The first cakes that I made were the chocolate cakes. First the dry ingredients get measured and mixed, including the cocoa.

Chocolate cake wet ingredients

Then the wet ingredients get measured and mixed.

First wet ingredient introduction

A third of the wet ingredients and the softened butter get mixed into the dry ingredients.

More wet ingredients get mixed in

Another third of the wet ingredients gets mixed in, followed by the last third.

Chocolate cake all mixed

Here is the final cake batter after mixing in the last third of wet ingredients. At this point the batter is much lighter in color and ready to bake.

Chocolate cake ready to bake

The batter goes into the prepared cake pan and then baked. The 14 inch cake took about an hour and a half to bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit, while the 5 inch cake took about 40 minutes at 350 degrees.

Chocolate cake all baked

Here is the cake after baking.

Close up of the chocolate cake

And a close up shot of the edge of the cake. You can see that it baked out and over the top of the pan and formed a bit of a mushroom top. That is okay and just gets trimmed up right before decorating.

Cooling chocolate cake

After cooling for a few minutes in the pan, the cake should be turned out and cooled to room temperature on a wire rack.

Close up of chocolate cake

This is a close up of the chocolate cake again, showing the fine texture of the cake.

Next up is the red velvet cake.

Creamed butter

Red velvet cake is made slighly differently. First the butter gets beat in the mixer until it’s light and slightly fluffy.

Red velvet cake dry ingredients

The dry ingredients get mixed separately.

Butter with eggs, sugar, and vanilla

Sugar, eggs, and vanilla get mixed into the butter.

Red dyed buttermilk

A red food dye gets mixed with some buttermilk and then set aside.

Red velvet batter ready for baking

Then the dry ingredients and buttermilk get mixed in, alternating between the two in rough third. Baking soda and white vinegar get quickly mixed together then incorporated into the cake batter. The whole thing gets quickly put into a prepared cake pan and baked.

Cooling red velvet cake

After baking, the cake cools for a bit in the pan then, again, flipped and cooled on a wire rack.

Close up of the red velvet cake

Here is a close up of the cooling red velvet cake.

After the cakes have completely cooled, they were wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in the fridge overnight. This stops them from drying out and gives you more time to make all the other pieces of the cake.

Next, the fillings get made.

Chopping chocolate

The Nutella-Valrhona chocolate ganache is the first filling. It starts by chopping the chocolate into small rough pieces. I find that a sharp serrated knife works well for this. I use a strong, sharp bread knife.

Chopped chocolate

The chocolate goes into a metal bowl and then set aside.

Heavy cream boils

Then, heavy cream is brought just to a boil.

Heavy cream poured over chocolate

And poured over the chocolate. After about a minute, the mixture can be slowly stirred until it comes together.

Chocolate ganache

Here is what the ganache looks like after coming together.

Nutella added to the ganache

Then the Nutella gets mixed into the ganache. This also takes some time as the Nutella has a very different consistency. You can vary the ratio of Nutella to ganache to get a different final consistency and taste. I ended up using two 13 oz jars of Nutella for about 2 pounds of chocolate and 32 ounces of heavy cream. It resulted in a semi-hard ganache that could be spread easily at room temperature.

Orange zest

The second filling is an orange curd filling. It starts with juicing and zesting about three oranges.

Sugar and corn starch mixture

A water, sugar, and cornstarch mixture is heated over medium-low heat until it boils for about a minute.

Thickened sugar-cornstarch mixture

At that stage, the mixture will get really thick and be translucent.

Finished orange filling

Butter, orange zest, and the orange juice get mixed in. At this point the mixture is done, and just needs to cool. It should be moved to a bowl to cool with plastic wrap pressed down on it and placed in the fridge for a few hours.

That’s all for the cake ingredients (see this previous post for the vanilla buttercream). Next time I’ll write about the decorating and assembly of the cake.