The perfect cake for a budding scientist or dinosaur enthusiast! I'm usually up until 2am the night before my kids' birthdays, finishing their cakes. Most of the decorating work for this cake can be done a week or more before you're going to serve it. And it gives you an opportunity to pick up new skills that might be out of your comfort zone, like wood working or piping chocolate (which I was surprised to learn wasn't all that difficult). Speaking of which, I'd appreciate it if you would consider voting for me in the "Out of my Comfort Zone" contest!
- A cake (any recipe, but it needs to be somewhat thick, chocolate is best)
- White and milk chocolate melting wafers (or chocolate bars will work fine)
- Chocolate rocks (optional. I get these at Bulk Barn in Canada)
- Parchment paper
- Few bits of scrap wood
Step 1: Fossil Bed
Determine how big your fossil bed should be. Make sure you have room to write on the rest of the cake. Put some white and milk chocolate on a double boiler (a glass or metal mixing bowl over a pot of boiling water works). I used about a 50/50 mix to get a reasonable rock color. Make sure the water isn't contacting the bottom of the bowl. Mix as it melts until you get a smooth consistency. Throw some chocolate rocks in and mix and mash them. The candy coating doesn't melt at double boiler temperatures, so you want to break it up a bit, but leave it rough enough to give some texture to the chocolate. Pour onto a parchment-lined book or other flat surface in a roughly rectangular shape. Add a few chocolate rocks of appropriate color, around where your dinosaur bones will be. Put this in the freezer to cool.
Print your dinosaur bone template to the desired size. Feel free to use the one above. Place it on a book and cover with parchment paper. Melt some white chocolate with a bit of milk chocolate on the double boiler. Put this into a parchment paper cone. Pipe the chocolate over the templates. I did three copies, as backup. I only had to use the jaw bone of one copy to fix a mistake, so we added the extra dinosaur bones to slices that didn't end up getting any dinosaur. Put this in the freezer to cool.
Now for the tricky part. Put a folded, clean, lint-free dish towel over a dinosaur and flip over. Carefully peel away the parchment, leaving an upside-down dinosaur skeleton. Place the cooled rock bed over this and flip it back. Carefully pull away the dish towel. Your skeleton should be intact. Reposition anything that needs it. Use a heat gun, hair dryer, or the broiler in your oven to slightly melt the bones and fuse them to the bed. Scape off any errors and substitute from your backups. Put your completed fossil bed aside.
Step 2: Make the Tools
I made a brush, pick and shovel from wood. I'll tell you how to make the same, but you could easily substitute air hardening clay, fondant or modeling chocolate for the wood. Use whatever you're most comfortable with, or, better, use some medium you've never used!
Cut toothpicks to length and sand round on the end. Drill handle holes carefully!
Cut on the bandsaw and sand.
The inside rounded part of the shovel was sanded on a spindle sander (but you could use the side of a large drill bit or wrap rough sandpaper around a large bolt or just your finger) and cut with a bandsaw.
Sandwich real brush bristles between two coffee stirrers and CA glued them in place, then trim the bristles and cut the coffee stirrers to width.
These are just coffee stirrers cut to the right width. Keep these long, as you can press them into the cake.
Paint them disassembled, then glue together.
Step 3: Putting It Together
Split your cake in half with a bread knife or a cake leveller. Ice or add filling to the top of the bottom layer, putting just a thin coat under where the fossil bed will be. Put the fossil bed in place, then add the top half of the cake. Cut away the cake over the fossil bed. Did you get crumbs on the fossil bed? Good. Ice and decorate as desired. Crumble some of the cut away cake into a pile beside the dig site. Scatter your tools around and tie some string around the stakes.
Serve and enjoy!