My step daughter is VERY into Minecraft. And with her birthday quickly approaching, I decided to try and do something special for her. I am an artist, but not a cake decorator... so I figured I would create a cake that I could actually pull off. But, when it comes to themed cakes, attention to the details will make or break the cake. I have seen a lot of Minecraft cakes online, but most look like a bakers interpretation of Minecraft, and misses the mark. So I paid very close attention to the colors, shapes, etc, yet still make it edible :)
Step 1: Design
I started out with a quick sketch of what I was thinking. Partially for my self, and so that I could show my daughter whom is a pastry chef, to get her input on my idea. She thought I was being ambitious with adding the Jello.
Step 2: Supplies
Next I headed to Walmart and got everything that I needed. I was surprised that I could find everything there, so that saved me some driving around. In the photo I only show 1 box of Jello and 1 tube of white frosting, I actually used 3 large boxes of blue Jello and 2 tubes of white frosting.
Step 3: Baking and Jello
I chose the "Spice" cake because it was pretty spot on with the color of the ground in Minecraft. This was confirmed when she saw the cake for the first time. She said that it was the perfect color. Score!
I got a 8x8 square baking pan and poured 80% of the batter into the pan. I used the remaining batter in some cupcake molds. I figured these were going to be my treats, but wound of using them on the cake later. I just followed the directions on the cake box for baking and prep.
After the cake cooled, I put it on a cooling rack, cleaned the pan and got ready to make the Jello. Since I was going to fit the Jello perfectly into the cake, I used the same cake pan for my Jello "Water". I read that if you want to make more solid Jello, you needed to use less water than normal. I used 3 boxes of blue Jello, and about half the water that was list on the Jello box. I realized that the depth of the Jello wasn't quite deep/tall enough to match the cake, and I only really needed about half the pan. So I placed a few bowls into the Jello to displace the liquid to the right height. Unlike the cake, Jello doesn't rise or fall. So when you get the right height, stick it in the fridge and check it in the morning.
Step 4: Flattening the Cake
I need the cake to be flat, but the cake had risen in the middle during the baking process. After letting the cake sit in the fridge over night, it was cool and a little stiffer to the touch. This made cutting the rise out of the center of the cake much easier. I just used a large knife and carefully shaved off the rise till the cake was pretty flat.
Step 5: Testing the Fit
This was the time make of break point for me. I placed the cake on a 12 x 12 cake board. These are so worth it. $4 for 4. They are high density cardboard so they are as strong as a plate, completely flat, and disposable. I cut out one quarter of the cake, thus a 4x4 piece. I picked it up and placed it on the remaining corner of the cake. This was going to be my brick part of the cake, and it actually fit.
Next I warmed up the large knife with hot water, then cut out a 4x4 chuck of the Jello from the cake pan. I then placed it into the space I had just made in the cake and, to my relief, it fit. I took it back out and placed it aside for now till I decorate the cake. You can smooth the Jello by heating up the blade of the knife with hot water and placing it up against the side of the Jello. This melts the Jello, so be careful not to melt too much.
Step 6: Decorating the Cake
I am by no means a cake decorator. I used to watch my mom decorate cake for my brothers school bake sales back in the day, so I had some idea as to what I was doing, but haven't done anything like this in 20 years. I wasn't about to mix my own frosting and try to squeeze it through those decorating bags... so I bought the pressurized frosting cans. They even come with a variety of decorating tips. I decided to start with the brick because the grass would come up against it at the base of the brick. I just sprayed globs of red frosting on a side of the upper piece of cake, then with a smooth butter knife that has been soaking in hot water... again, like the Jello, the hot wet knife will melt the frosting and make it smooth. I did this to all the sides and top.
I then lightly scored the frosting with the knife so that I could use that as a guide for putting the white frosting grout lines on. It took 2 tubes of the white frosting and a steady hand to grout the bricks.
Finally, it was time for the grass. I practiced various types of grass on the parts of the cake, that I had cut off earlier, till I was happy with the look of the grass. After covering the two grassy areas with green frosting, I outlined the grass to give it a nice finished look. Again, this was all done with the compressed frosting in a can with supplied tips.
Step 7: Adding Some Extras
The cake was almost done, but it felt too simple to me now. So, by luck I hadn't eaten all of the spice cake cupcakes and realized that I could cut these in to extra small block of "land" to break up the plainness of the cake. I cut them into small squares and decorated them with the green frosting. Then I cut a few small blocks of the remaining Jello to add some extra bits of "water"
Step 8: Custom Cake Topper
I have been working with "papercraft" for years, and the main character of Minecraft is a pretty simple papercraft project. I looked online and found a nice papercraft template of "Steve". I didn't just want to put Steve up there, I wanted it to be my step daughter. So I took a photo of her, pixelated it in photoshop, and replaced the head parts with hers. I also changed the color of the clothes... she has a favorite green t-shirt. I got the template printed on luster photo paper. Photo paper is much easier to work with than just color printer paper, but you can use anything that you can get printed on.
So... about an hour of cutting and gluing my fingers together with superglue, I had her very personalized cake topper.
Step 10: The Cake and a Very Happy Girl!
This cake got thumbs up from every child that has seen it and I quote " that is legit!" Also, the Jello was a huge hit with the kids.
Her smile made it all so worth while to me. I hope this inspires someone else to create a special cake for someone close to them.