Introduction: Electric Guitar Cake
My son wanted a car for his 16th birthday. He also wanted a guitar. I was cheap so he got the guitar. He also got a matching cake to go with it. This cake is modeled after the Kona KES1 Series Double Cutaway Red Electric Guitar. Of course, you can make any kind of guitar cake you want, but the instructions are written for this cake - exactly as you see it pictured here.
I’ve been making birthday cakes for my family for years. I search online for inspiration, tips, and (because I can be quite lazy at times) shortcuts are always welcome. I am definitely an amateur but I enjoy decorating cakes and want to show people that they too can make beautiful cakes with just a few materials and some patience.
This was my first time creating a cake with fondant. I had previously avoided fondant like the plague but I knew this cake would look so much better with fondant.
To avoid the bland, undesirable taste of store-bought fondant, I decided to try making marshmallow fondant. I could make it fairly quickly and flavor it as I wished. I used a great recipe that can be found at What's Cooking America. It turned out beautifully and I have been using the same recipe ever since.
This cake looks big - especially stretched across a board 2 feet long, but it is made from a modest 9" x 13" cake so you can bake the cake right at home and shouldn't have to worry about too many leftovers.
Step 1: Materials and Template
To make this cake, I first had to create the template. I traced a guitar. It took 4 sheets of 8x11 paper. I scanned the tracings, put them together and shrunk the body of the guitar to fit on one 8x11 sheet of paper.
I also traced the head of the guitar and shrunk it down to be (somewhat) proportional to the base. Both the head and the body templates I used are attached below. You'll need to print them both and cut them out before placing them on your cake and carving.
1 baked and cooled 9x13 cake
Guitar template (you can get it below)
Pizza Cutter (optional)
Dental Floss (optional)
1 container icing (any flavor) – I used vanilla just in case some icing just in case I had any icing to show through the fondant on the finished cake. It didn’t.
Spatula – for icing the cake
1 full batch of marshmallow fondant – (recipe from What's Cooking America) I did not color the fondant but I did flavor it with almond flavoring. You could use purchased fondant instead of making it. I would guess you would need to buy a couple pounds to be on the safe side – It can be white. The cake is painted later.
Large Cake Board - the one you see pictured is a 14" x 21" silver colored cardboard cake board that usually costs under $3 at a party store or craft store. *
Red food coloring gel - I used Wilton’s no-taste red gel
Black food coloring gel
Almond or clear vanilla flavoring - don’t use regular vanilla unless you are making a brown or black guitar. The brown in the vanilla will discolor your colors
Wilton Silver "Pearl Dust"
Wilton Gold "Pearl Dust" (optional) - just a small amount of this was used to paint text on the headstock of the guitar
3 Small Paint Brushes (or you could just use the same one over and over)
3 Small Bowls – for mixing your “paint”
Silver Dragees - these little silver balls can be really hard to find nowdays. It might be best to get them somewhere online.
Metallic Silver Embroidery Floss - this is for the "strings". I tried wire. It didn't work.
Toothpicks - lots
*If you don't want to buy a large cake board, you could cover a large sheet of wrapping paper (front and back) with clear contact paper. It's washable and easily rolled up for storing. AND you can match it to any birthday party. If you ever need to move your cake while using this method, slide a large flat baking sheet under the paper and lift your cake.
Step 2: Cutting and Icing the Cake
Place the template pieces over the cake leaving a straight edge of cake for the neck of the guitar (you may need to rearrange them a bit to get it just right but you will be able to get the entire cake cut out of a 9x13 sheet cake). I apologize for not have a picture of the template pieces on the cake before it was cut. I can tell your that I placed the body template across the width of the cake. My cake wasn't wide enough to accommodate the guitar horns so I had to cut those out separately from cake scraps. No matter - you can't tell in the finished product!
Optional: Once the cake pieces are together and arranged on your cake board, use a piece of regular clean floss to cut the cake in half. It cuts much more cleanly than a serrated knife. Lift the top layer off (carefully!) and ice the entire middle with store bought chocolate icing. You can choose to do this with only the body of the guitar. I did the whole thing.
Replace the top layer and ice the top and sides of the cake with more icing to seal in the crumbs and level out the cake surface.
Step 3: The Fondant
I have to say, I was stressed about using the fondant. As mentioned before, I always avoided it in the past. But really, it wasn't as bad as I let myself think it would be.
If your fondant tears easily, knead it more. I found that kneading it a LOT really helped it to be more elastic and resist tearing. I also discovered that the humidity has a lot to do with how your fondant "acts". I first made this cake in the Spring in North Carolina...it was fairly humid. The fondant came out perfectly the first time and didn't need to "rest". I made it another time in December in Colorado...the air was very dry. The fondant needed a lot more kneading and more time to sit and relax before it worked well and was pliable enough to use.
The fondant is applied in three sections - the body, the neck and the head.
Roll out a large sheet of marshmallow fondant (about 1/8 inch thick) and placed it over the body of the guitar. Don't worry about having too much rolled out in this step. You will be cutting off the excess to use later. It's better to have too much than too little.
With your fondant positioned over the cake, start at the center and use your clean, dry hands to smooth the fondant over the icing. Carefully work your way toward the edges and down the sides of the cake smoothing as you go. Cut the fondant along the base of the cake using a pizza cutter (held at a 45 degree angle), the edge of your spatula or the back side of a knife (you don't want to wind up cutting your cake board). Tuck any straggly pieces of fondant up under the cake.
Repeat the process for the neck and head of the guitar. Tuck in the fondant all along the base of the cake.
Step 4: Painting the Cake
I chose not to color the fondant because after my experiences with red and black colored icing and the steps I took to make sure the marshmallow fondant TASTED good, I didn't want to ruin it by mixing in a huge amount of horrible tasting food coloring. I decided to "paint" the color onto the guitar.
The guitar body and head get painted red. The neck gets painted black.
Mix some red food coloring gel (just a dab) with some almond flavoring (or whatever flavoring you choose to use). I used about 1 Tablespoon of flavoring for each color because I wasn't sure how much I would need but I had plenty left over. You don't want it to be the consistency of paint, but you want the color to be bright. I use the gel coloring because it is much more concentrated and does not dilute icing and fondant (and paint) like liquid food coloring would.
Grab a brush and start painting. Note: keep the strokes going in the same direction.
Repeat the process for the black coloring.
I only brushed on one coat of the red the first day and let it dry overnight. I put a second coat of red on the next day and it really made the red a lot brighter! The black went on thick so it didn't need a second coat.
Step 5: Assembling the Cake
I don't have pictures of me actually making the keys and knobs and everything else that goes on the cake, so I'll use images of the finished cake. I'll try to explain what is needed and how it's all assembled. The images are labeled with the part names (I actually had to look these up so I would call all the pieces and parts by their correct names).
The silver balls you see on the cake are silver dragees. They can be hard to find but many grocery stores and places that offer cake decorating supplies still carry them.
For many of the pieces, you will need silver "paint". Make the paint by mixing approximately 2 tsp. of flavoring with silver Pearl Dust. I tried using the pearl dust dry, but the silver was too light. Creating this "paint" makes for a much darker silver color. You don't need a lot of the silver dust - maybe 1/8 to 1/4 tsp.
The guitar face is made from white fondant rolled out and cut to size using a small knife. The original template used to cut out the guitar base helped to get this piece sized right before it was placed on the cake. (The guitar template can be downloaded from step 1) No icing was needed to "glue" it down. The food coloring "paint" was still a little wet and tacky. If your paint has already dried, use a paintbrush dipped in water and lightly paint water where you are placing the guitar face.
The silver dragees on the guitar face are best placed on the cake right before the strings are added. That makes it easier to position them correctly. Use a paintbrush dipped in water to moisten the fondant where you want to place the silver dragee. Press the silver dragee into the moistened area of the fondant. When the water dries, the silver dragee will be fairly secure.
Roll a sheet of white fondant very thin. Use a small knife or a pizza cutter to cut thin even strips of fondant the width of the guitar neck. If the guitar neck is dry, use a paintbrush dipped in water and lightly paint water lines where you want the frets to go. Lay the frets in place all along the neck.
Roll out white fondant and cut three small 1/2 in width sections using a knife or a pizza cutter. Make each section as long as the guitar neck is wide. Round the corners and ends to form an elongated oval or a rounded rectangle. Line up the pieces side to side (not end to end).
You will need to place 6 evenly spaced silver dragees on each fondant piece. Use a paintbrush dipped in water to moisten the fondant where you want to place the silver dragee. Press the silver dragee into the moistened area of the fondant. When the water dries, the silver dragee will be fairly secure.
The pickups should be positioned on the guitar face in line with the neck. The strings will be running across the tops of the silver dragees so try to keep them aligned.
Tone and Volume Controls (knobs):
For the control knobs, roll fondant into 3 cylinders. Use the length of a toothpick to imprint lines around the sides of the knobs. Use a small dab of icing to "glue" the knobs down.
Pickup Selector Switch:
I'm pretty sure this is the pickup selector switch. It wasn't attached to the bridge so it couldn't be the whammy bar.
Roll out a small portion of white fondant and cut into a thin strip (about an inch and a half long and 1/4 inch wide). Paint it silver. Attach it to the cake by first lightly moistening the bottom of the piece. Position it carefully on the cake. Cut a smaller white rectangular piece of fondant. This will be the "switch". Moisten the base of the fondant and attach it crosswise to the silver piece.
End Pin and Shoulder (?) Pin:
For the end pin, roll a marble-sized ball of white fondant, shape into a pear shape, flatten both the wide end and the smaller end and place a toothpick into the smaller end. Paint with a mixture of flavoring and silver Pearl Dust. Let dry before inserting into the center of the guitar base.
The other pin, located on one of the guitar horns, I will call a shoulder pin. Make this one exactly the same as the end pin and position it on the top of the left guitar horn. It is shown in the 3rd image.
Machine Heads (Tuning Keys):
These are the small top pieces that the strings are attached to AND the side keys. You will need 6 of each.
Create 12 small cylinders. Roll out a thin rope of fondant and cut it into 12 short pieces (about 1/3 inch long but you really don't need to measure these). You may need to fix their shape after cutting (cutting tends to flatten out the ends).
Cut 3 toothpicks in half. Attach one of these cylinders to each of the toothpick halves by pushing the toothpick up through the end of each cylinder. Do not push the toothpick all the way through. You should have 6 of these. Paint silver. I'll call these TUNING PINS from now on since they resemble push pins. Set aside until you are ready to add the strings to your cake.
Roll out another piece of fondant and cut it into 6 even rectangles (about 1/3" wide and 3/4" long).
With the remaining 6 cylinders, push whole toothpicks through the end and all the way through the length of the cylinder so some of the toothpick juts out about 1/4 inch from the opposite end. For each of these cylinders, push the short end of the toothpick into the side of one of the rectangles and press lightly at the junction to make a depression (see image 4 for the tuning keys). You should wind up with 6 of these. Paint silver. When dry, insert them evenly along the side of the guitar head.
I used silver embroidery floss for the guitar strings. I had intended to use beading wire but that just was NOT going to work. I couldn't get it to straighten out and it moved around so much while I worked with it that I thought it may gouge out part of the cake.
Break or cut 6 toothpicks in half. Tie a long piece of silver embroidery thread (about 2 feet long, but measure it against your cake) to each of 6 of the toothpick halves. Press those toothpicks into the cake along the base of the guitar face keeping the strings in line with the silver balls on the pickups. Once those strings are in place, dab some icing on the end of each toothpick to act as glue.
For the other end of your embroidery thread you will need the tuning pins - the cylinders without the tops that you made earlier (instructions above). Wrap an exposed end of embroidery thread around one of the tuning pins keeping the string below the fondant. Determine where you need the string to end and wrap the thread tight by twisting the pin. Trim off any excess thread and place a dab of icing over the thread end on the toothpick to act as glue. Push the tuning pin into the cake. Don't push the silver fondant into the cake - just the toothpick part (each of these tuning pins should have a string attached and be lined up with the tuning keys along the side).
Roll out a bit of white fondant and cut it into a wide rectangle - as long as the width of the guitar neck. Then cut out 6 strips of white fondant, moisten the bottoms and affix to the bridge rectangle in a random pattern (see images). Paint silver.
Position the Bridge at the base of the guitar face in line with the neck of the guitar as shown. It will need to overlap the bottom of the face of the guitar and cover where the strings are inserted.
Step 6: Finishing Touches
The guitar I was giving my son for his birthday had "Kona" on the head so I mixed up some gold Pearl Dust and flavoring and painted it on his guitar cake as well.
I didn't want to insert birthday candles into the cake through the fondant so I piped mounds of icing around the cake on the cake board and placed the candles in them.
Just remember, remove all the toothpick pieces (the tuning keys, pins and strings, as well as the end and shoulder pins) before you actually cut and serve your cake. Enjoy!
The original tutorial can be found on my cake blog at http://kidscakes.blogspot.com/2009/03/rock-n-roll-electric-guitar-birthday.html. However, this tutorial is much more in-depth :)