I like playing around with cakes. Someone at work was teasing me about bringing in a cake. I asked her what kind of cake she wanted and she said a turkey. I originally thought of a "cartoon" turkey but since it was a week before thanksgiving I decided to try to make a "roasted" turkey. Everyone thought it was a real turkey at first and were impressed to see it was a cake. I meant to take pictures as I made it but sometimes I get so wrapped up in the design and how I'm going to make it I forget. So I've made some illustrations to help. It does help to use an airbrush to paint the cake but if you don't you can just tint the icing but it won't look as roasted as you can get using an airbrush.
Step 1: Supplies
- 9 x 13 Cake Pan
- 8 x 12 Cake Pan
- Large Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl (As close to a 9" diameter opening as you can find.)
Cake(People rave about my moist cakes. My secret is...Cake Mixes!)
- 1 Chocolate cake mix (dark meat)
- 2 Yellow cake mixes (or your favorite flavor)
- 1 stick softened butter
- 1 cup "cheap" vegetable shortening (Crisco as removes the trans fat but you need it for the icing. So I buy cheap generic store brand.)
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- Milk or heavy cream (as needed - average about 2 tablespoons)
- Sharp bread knife
- Brown and Yellow food coloring (Get a good liquid food coloring from a cake supply store or a craft store like Michael's) If using an airbrush make sure tour food coloring is designed for use in an airbrush.
- Icing knifes or smooth knifes
- Paper towel
- Green fondant (or white fondant tinted green)
- Bamboo Skewers
- Turkey Platter
Step 2: Bake Your Cake
Bake your cakes as per package directions. Your bowl cake will take a long time (about twice as long as the sheet cakes). Once the cakes are baked and cooled, wrap them in plastic wrap or freezer paper and freeze at least overnight. It is a lot easier to work with frozen cake.
Step 3: Make Icing
Make your icing by creaming the butter and shortening. Add the vanilla and then slowly add the powdered sugar. Add the milk as needed to make a creamy consistency. Once everything is incorporated turn the mixer on high and beat for two minutes. This will help to break up the gritty sugary texture. Taste your icing and if too sweet, add more shortening, to bland, add more sugar. You want a smooth but thick, spreadable icing.
Step 4: Prepare Your Platter
Find an appropriate "turkey" platter. Roll out your green fondant and make lettuce leaves. Spread out your leaves around the platter.
Step 5: Start Your Cake
Bring your yellow sheet cake from the freezer and using the sharp bread knife level off the top. Put the cake onto the platter. Bring out your bowl cake, level off the top, cover with icing and place on the sheet cake towards one end. Cut off the excess cake from the other end and set aside. It helps to have a picture of a real roasted turkey to work from. The most important thing is the back notch. start with a "V" in the middle of the bowl and work from there. Once you have the shape cover the cake wit a generous layer of icing. Smoot the icing as best as you can but don't fuss over it too much. You'll work on that in a few minutes. Set the cake aside to let the icing harden a bit.
Step 6: Carve Your Dark Meat
Bring out your frozen chocolate cake and trim out two wings and two drumsticks. Keep in mind that the drumsticks are rounded. That is why we uses a smaller pan to get a thicker cake. Once you have the pieces finished put them back into the freezer for a bit.
Check your yellow cake to see if your icing has hardened. Lightly touch the top. If you can leave a finger print or if it pulls up you'll need to place the entire cake into the refrigerator for 20 - 30 minutes. If the surface is hard to the touch it is ready for the next step.
Step 7: Now...the Paper Towel Trick
Once your icing is hard to the touch, get your paper towel. Look at the texture on both sides of the towel and choose the one without a patteren if possible. Put that side down onto the cake and rub it with your hand. When you peel off the towel it should look like a plucked bird. Do this to the entire cake.
Step 8: Finishing Touches
Bring out your wings and drumsticks and frost. Let the icing harden, refrigerating if needed. Use the shortened skewers to place the drumsticks. Since the wings are at the bottom skewers aren't necessary. You can use the paper towel to press the parts into place since you'll be doing that to those parts just like you did the turkey.
Take your leftover cake pieces from the turkey and dark meat and cut into cubes. This is your stuffing. Put those on a cookie sheet and bake in an oven at 350 for a few minutes until hardened.
Cover your lettuce with paper towels and get out the airbrush. For my roasted color I used a 2 yellow to 1 brown food color mixture. Test the color and spray pattern on a paper towel. You want a light mist. Paint your entire bird. Use a 1:1 yellow:brown mixture and highlight a few spots where the turkey might be a bit more browned. here is where your artistic touch comes in.
Step 9: End Product
Place your stuffing pouring out of the front of the turkey and covering any open spaces on the platter. Put a bit of stuffing around the back too. I also found out that gravity is not my friend and the next morning my drumsticks where pulling away from my bird. A bit of stuffing under the drumsticks can help.
Now serve your turkey and watch it go. One advantage is that there isn't a carcass to dispose of. Some people even like the taste of fondant so the lettuce is edible and someone, maybe a "vegetarian" might want them.