Birthday Cakes - 3 Dimensional

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Posted by Dharm

3-D cakes, also known as Novelty Cakes are lovely to look at and also give the impression of being extremely difficult to make. How many of you have looked at cake books that feature 3-D cakes and sighed enviously, if not in defeat?
I used to be like that but no more! That’s not entirely true. The cakes featured in books are still way beyond my league but I guess the point that I am trying to make is that the cakes shown in books are not only made by professionals, but the pictures are taken by professionals too! So there is no need to sell yourself short by comparing yourself with a pro now is there.

This article will attempt to show you that you can do it at home - with a little patience and creativity.

Novelty Cakes are really not that difficult to make. The trick is to work within your comfort zone. If you are not familiar with sugarpaste, then stay away from it. If you are afraid of fondant, then wear a string of garlic around your neck. One thing you need though, before you take the plunge into 3-D cakes is a good idea and a little faith in yourself. Okay, so that’s two things you need. So shoot me.

The very first time I ventured into 3D cakes was for my son’s 5th Birthday. You see, as I mentioned in my previous post, the best thing about making cakes for your own children is that it never has to be perfect. They will love you (and the cake!) no matter what.

I was planning to make him a Formula One race car and I knew that I could just trace a car design on to a rectangular cake and ice it. Nonetheless, I wanted to make an extra special cake for him and at the same time raise my ‘skill’ level. And so I took the route of a 3-D cake.

That's how I ended up making a Ferrari F1 cake for my very first 3D attempt. Sounds complicated? Yes, it sure does. It certainly Sounds complicated but it really isn't as I will attempt to explain. With all things, a little bit of planning goes a long way.

I'm an F1 fan myself. Have been for many, many years. So I knew what F1 cars looked like. This is also where my Engineering training came into good use! I figured what I needed was a Plan View (View looking from the top) of an F1 car. The plan view, coupled with the picture in my head of what an F1 car looks like would enable me to construct a 3D F1 Car out of cake. I guess all that time sepnt, many years ago, studying Technical Drawing using Third Angle Projection would come in really handy now! That was my plan.

Okay, so did I lose you? Sorry... Let me try again.

As always when you are trying to find information - Search The Web. I was looking in particular for an F1 car in Plan View. As I said earlier, this means a view from the top. (like in the diagram below - you Have To appreciate that I drew this (okay, maybe traced it) for you okay!!).

The plan was starting to come together. Now I needed to bake the cakes.

Did I say cakes? Yes! I baked two rectangular cakes. Why two cakes for only one car? Well, the car needs a track to run on doesn’t it? So anyway. Two cakes. The first cake acted as the roadway or base for the car. I iced it with buttercream icing – black for the road and green for the side of the track or runoffs. The sides of the cake was iced with a brownish green just to differentiate it from the actual track. To finish off the track I used strawberry flavoured rolled wafers to act as the Rumble Strips, or kerbs. My track was now complete. Now for the car.

Using the second cake, I cut the outline of the car out using the Plan View and that resulted in a piece like this:

You're starting to get the idea now arent you!! Now referring to the plan view again, I cut out a rectangular piece that would serve as the Front Wings for the car. Next, I cut out another piece that that resembled a rectangle with a half cone on top. This was the Engine cowling.

Finally, the Rear Wing was fashioned by cutting a squre piece of cake and covering it with a rectangular piece. Not exactly the way a Rear Wing should look but hey, its just a cake okay!!!

The cake was then assembled on a cake board and covered in a rather thick buttercream before being smoothened down with a spatula dipped in hot water. I let the cake rest for a while before lifting it using a spatula and cake server to place on to the ‘track’. You may notice that my car didn’t exactly sit very straight but at this point in time, I was just thankful that I had managed to get the car onto the ‘track’ without any damage!

The four tyres were fashioned out of icing sugar, a little butter and cocoa, rolled out into a ball and then flattened in the shape of tyres. The wheel suspension was simply chocolate biscuit sticks pushed into the cake and tyres. To give further detail and authenticity to the F1 car, I printed out my sons name, the Ferrari logo as well as the Number 5 – as the number of the car as well as my son’s age – on to Overhead Projector Transparency sheets. I then cut these out and ‘stuck’ them to the cake.

And there you have it – a Ferrari F1 Car. I added two Lego men to the cake and that made my son even more excited!

When my daughters 3rd birthday came up a few months later, I carried on with the theme of 3-D cakes. My daughter loves all the Disney princesses and in particular Ariel, the little mermaid. It only seemed logical to make her a mermaid cake!

All things must start with a plan. The plan in my mind was to buy a doll-pick (a doll with only the torso while the bottom half is a pick to stick into the cake). This would be the body of the mermaid. I would have the mermaid sitting on a rock and then fashion its tail out of icing. Not only did I have a plan, it also sounded do-able!

What I did was to make one large rectangular cake and a much smaller dome cake. The rectangular cake was iced in blue and green – for the sea. I didn’t make the icing too smooth but rather used the spatula to make little billows – for the waves.
The dome cake was cut somewhat jagged and then covered in chocolate and placed at the top half of the cake – like a rock. I then stuck the doll-pick into the ‘rock’ but left it sticking out just a little so that I could fashion her ‘hips’ and ‘tail’. I used a mix of butter, loads of icing sugar and some liquid glucose (you can also use Corn Syrup) to give the icing some pliability. I coloured it a dark green and then rolled it out into a sausage shape. I then flattened one end of it and cut the ends to resemble the fish tail. Now it was just a matter of draping the tail on to the rock and shaping the ‘hips’ to join nicely to the doll-pick. I then cut the end of a drinking straw into a semi-circle and used that to make scales on the tail!

To finish off the cake, I drizzled more chocolate around the base of the rock and then sprinkled some brown sugar around it – to make it look like sand. I placed some chocolate shells around the rock and used fish shaped candles for the final touch.

Just last year, I made this Pirate Ship cake for my son’s 6th birthday.

In the interest of saving space and since I already posted it before on my own blog, this is where you can find the full instructions for the Pirate Cake.

And just last month, I made this Dora themed Pinata Cake for my daugther’s 4th birthday. This was a lot of fun to make and even more fun to crack open! Again, full instructions are detailed on my blog.

So there you have it! 3-D cakes are possible with a little imagination and are really not that difficult to do.

I still owe you tips on hosting Theme Based parties but rest assured that I will cover that soon! Till next time…..

Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Dharm from Dad ~ Baker & Chef


Aha! Finally my two passions engineering and cooking come together! Now I just need a willing vic... I mean kid!

Thanks for this article, Dharm, it will come in very handy!


March 26, 2008 at 7:02:00 PM GMT+1  

Oh my Dharm! This is exceptional - I love the easy steps you mentioned here. I do think these types of cakes were difficult but with these steps I think even a baking nerd like me could give it a try. Lovely!

Meeta K. Wolff said...
March 27, 2008 at 5:28:00 AM GMT+1  

what wonderful cakes dharm, you are a talented, and imaginative, baker!

Anonymous said...
March 27, 2008 at 9:37:00 AM GMT+1  

Looks like we share some similarites - Engineering and cooking!! It's always easy to find a willing kid to make a cake for. Good luck finding a vict.. I mean kid!!

So glad you like the post and hope you can come up with something for your son. And dont be so modest... your creations are fantastic!! :)

Thanks for the kind words. Dont really think I am all that talented - just sheer hard work and yes, I suppose some semblance of imagination! :)

Dharm said...
March 27, 2008 at 12:41:00 PM GMT+1  

If only you lived closer to me... I would hire you to make these wonderful cakes for my grandkids! I'm way too much of a bake-o-phobe to try it myself.

March 27, 2008 at 3:36:00 PM GMT+1  

Your pirate cake is still my favorite!

Helene said...
March 27, 2008 at 7:11:00 PM GMT+1  

Excellent cakes Dharm! You're very talented and your children are very lucky. Like Helen, I love the pirate cake. My children would be over the moon with a pirate cake like that. I must practice.

March 30, 2008 at 2:40:00 PM GMT+2  

Those look really great! I specially love the pirate ship cake! you can even make a smaller version of the mermaid one, and put the two together, create a background and tada! Open seas!

May 1, 2009 at 2:55:00 AM GMT+2  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Budingi said...
June 15, 2009 at 5:31:00 PM GMT+2  

Post a Comment