Best enjoyed with a refreshing beverage, milk, coffee, tea or a la mode, what better way to celebrate a special occasion than with a custom cake in any shape or character.
This for those of the Ron Popeil school of baking...set it and forget it...we're just too lazy to decorate our cake. Too much work and skill was needed for something like LinuxH4x0r's Instructables Robot Cake. This project is great for those midnight dorm-room snacks which should be able to be made with your toaster oven or makeshift bootleg autoclave.
Step 1: Now Whip It, Into Shape, Shape Up, Get It Straight...
You need to rummage through your paper recycling bin to look for a stiff piece of cardboard or a cardboard box that you can flatten out. Use a sharp razor or utility knife to slice the cardboard. Use a pair of scissors for fine tuning. Use a roll of packaging tape. Any other tape will do but this is easiest to work with and can conform to the detail contours nicely. The dispenser makes it easy to cut off a piece of tape to use so you don't have to fumble with the roll to find the end when it sticks back on itself and disappears. You will need a roll of the heavy-duty aluminum foil to form the cake pan.
Print out your favorite graphic of the image or character you want to bring to life. Try to get the image as large as a sheet of standard letter or A4 paper. Cut around the outline of the image. You will want to "include" the areas that bridge thin or weak protruding details such as the gap between the whiskers or legs. You are essentially trying to create a mold that you will cast with cake batter. Trace this to a piece of stiff cardboard. Draw or trace onto the cardboard the rest of the outline of your figure. This is to help place your detail pieces. I put my paper image over the cardboard and poked a pen into the endpoints of the lines or shapes to transfer the image. Use a marker to sketch out the rest of the details. If you have a crease or fold from the box in the cardboard, glue a small piece of cardboard on the other side of the crease to strengthen and help the piece keep flat and not bend under pressure.
Cut strips of cardboard about 2 1/2 inches wide, about the average depth of a cake pan. You can make it bigger if you want a deeper pan. You will want the "grain" or corrugations running parallel with the smaller width of your cardboard strip. This makes it easier to bend around your shape. Attach this to your main cardboard shape to form the walls. You will get the hang of creasing the cardboard and using little strips of tape to follow the outside contours. If the strip for the wall is too short to continue, take another piece of cardboard and about 1 inch from the end, peel away an outer layer and the inside corrugation. Butt up the corrugated part and overlap the flap on the last piece and continue with more taping. This will prevent the bump that occurs if you did not do this. Finish up the end piece in the same manner to get a smooth outside side wall. The walls can flare out a bit or just try to keep them vertical as the sides of the pan.
Take a look at your graphic to see what details you want to "pop" out in 3-D. Since cake batter is not the best medium for holding detail, you need to make these accents as large as you can. From more scrap cardboard, create and cut out the accent details making them 3 layers of cardboard thick. These protoype cakes only had 2 cardboard thickness details. Use tape to apply the details. Press the tape as close as possible and try not to have any sharp corners which will puncture the foil in the next step. Use tape to smooth out anything else.
Step 2: Batter Up!
Heavily grease the insides of your new custom cake pan with non-stick spray, oil or melted butter and dust with flour. If you are a master baker you can make cake from scratch but I just used a store-bought cake mix. I used a box of white cake mix for Hello Kitty and a box of yellow cake mix for the Instuctables Robot cake. Each of the pans was able to hold the whole batch from a box of cake mix. Bake according to directions on the box. The cakes did rise a lot but did not overflow the sides. When done, cool off the cakes. The cake will shrink away from the sides of the pan. Invert over a plate and gently shake or peel away the pan. Properly recycle the used foil cake pan. The cardboard form can be used another day.
It's our personal preference but we do away with the need for frosting. Besides, if you are serving to lactose-intolerant guests, buttercreme and dairy laden frostings are a no-no. You can decorate additional details with that eyeliner frosting stuff but that seems full of synthesized ingredients.
So, serve your cake by slicing up a portion. You can use a table saw with miter gauge a la Tetranitrate or whatever sharp instrument is handy.
For a giant Twinkies(r) snack cake that won't fit a laptop bag, create the cardboard form and use a turkey baster or something to inject the filling.
For birthdays, add your LED blinking throwie candles and enjoy.
For those so inclined, you may try your hand at creating a cake in the image of the Queen...that way you can say you have had proper tea and cake with Her Royal Majesty...
For EBay auctions, embed an image of Elvis onto your cake...
OMG, OMG, Can anyone post the Knex SR-V3 cake...I really need to know how to make this cake and can't figure it out....NO!
For Halloween, cast body parts for cake...red jelly gore and stuff...
For non-cake cake, give it a shot with ice cream to make your own custom ice cream cake. Gently pack the mold with softened ice cream and refreeze.
For those of us who got fourth place or worse in the Valentine's day contest, you can make your own robot chocolate mold. :(
For a huge hangover, mold the coolest giant jello shot there ever was...
Have fun and bon appetit!