I've made a cake decorating tutorial inspired by Frida Kahlo's Self- Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird. Frida Kahlo is on the artists that I admired in art and in fashion. She has an eccentric and sriking style to love. And this tutorial that I will be teaching will feature one of her iconic paintings. I will not focus on the baking part, instead I will show you how to create intermediate to advanced cake toppers and decorations.
Making this tutorial has been frustrating for me. This was intended to be a full fondant and gumpaste tutorial, but since it was stormy a few days ago, and fondant doesn't stand humid and wet weather, I decided to change this into a buttercream and gumpaste tutorial instead.
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Step 1: Materials You'll Need
For the cake:
- your favorite buttercake or pound cake recipe
- buttercream (american buttercream, swiss meringue buttercream etc)
- round cake pans in 4", 5" and 6" diameter
- styrofoam cut in round 6" for the bottom tier base and 8" for the visible cake base
-cakeboard in 4", 5",6" diameter (2 pieces for each size)
- 5" diamter round cookie cutter
- Food colors in sky blue, golden yellow (for skin), lemon yellow(for leaves), super red, bright white, super black, avocado, mint green, leaf green, forest green (any green will do, I just like these colors), buckeye brown, copper
- food safe petal dusts in red, brown, peach
For the decorations:
-disposable plastics piping bags
-piping tips in ateco 352, wilton 129, mini grass tip, large leaf tip
- gumpaste modelling tools (you can improvise with sticks, teaspoons and thick gauge wires), ball modelling tool for flowers( you can use a study teaspoon) non stick rolling pin,
- small scissors
- edible glue or water
- medium round fluffy brush or applying petal usts on cheeks, small brush for the eyes, fine tip brush for painting details, flat brush for applying edible glue
- clay extruder
-offset angled spatula
- green floral wire
- barbecue sticks
-long nose pliers
- wire cutters
Step 2: Making Frida Kahlo Topper
I suggest you make the gumpaste toppers atleast a day in advance to allow it to firm up a bit.
1.) Mix an olive tan gumpaste using food colors. I used 1/2 parts golden yellow, 2 parts copper, 1 part buckeye brown and a very tiny dot of blue.
2.) Roll out a ball, then pinch and flat it the same way as I did on the photo. This creates the depths of the facial features.
3.) Using your tools, sculpt the features as shown in the photos.
4.) Paint the eyes with a fine brush using buckeye brown and bright white and dilute with a little vodka. Paint the black rim on the iris. And paint some white dots to give the illusion of a reflection. I used a bit of red and peach petal dust to give color to the cheeks, and brown to give depth and shadow on the eyes. To make the hair, I used black gumpaste roll out a ball, then flatten it. Brush a little edible glue or water then place it on the head. Now using your dresden tool ( you can use a fork or a thick gauge wire) brush it across the direction of where the hair strands should be.
5.) Roll out 3 black gumpaste, braid it, then brush it like hairs grandson, and glue around the head.
6.) To make the body, roll out the leftover tan gumpaste inside a small dowel, then roll out a sheet of white gumpaste. Cut a small hole for the neck hole and glue the dress in place. Trim off the excess
7.) I used a clay extruder to make long spaghetti like gumpaste to make the hair accessory and the vines on the neck.
Step 3: Preparing the Cake
I did not include any cake recipes in this tutorial since I want to focus on the decorating part. But I bet that you have a favorite butter cake or poundcake recipe. That would make a wonderful and sturdy cake base. You can also search google for amazing cake and buttercream recipes if you're not familiar with any. I also recommend that you use Swiss meringue buttercream (butter, sugar, egg whites, google for recipe) to coat the cake since it goes smoothly. On this tutorial I used American buttercream (butter, shortening, confectioners sugar) since I live in a hot and humid country. Swiss meringue tastes amazing, but it will not stand the climate here. Are you excited to start decorating?
Let's get started!
Trimming the cake:
1.) Bake your cake batter in round 4", 5", 6" pans (you'll need 4" high baked cakes for each tier).
2.) After baking, refrigerate the cake fo 20- 30 mins. Trim the top part of the cake to remove the dome and level out the cake. Try not to trim the cake while it's hot or it will crumble and you might burn yourself.
3.) After trimming the top. Divide the cake into 3 or 4 layers. Then use a round 5" cookie cutter to cut less than half of the cake. Do this for the 6" cake diameter first. Then cut the 5" diameter. This time, when you cut the 5" diameter cake, try to align the part that you will cut to the 6" diameter cake. So that if you place the 5" diameter on top of the 6" diameter, it will be leveled. Do not cut more than that, or the cake might not be stable enough to stand. Do not cut the 4" inch diameter cake with the round cookie cutter.
Assembling the cake support:
4.) Prepare the cake board. Cut the cake boards into crescents the same size as you did with each cake size that you baked. You will need 2 crescents for each cake size.
5.) Place your smaller round styrofoam on the center of your bigger styrofoam.
6.) Poke 2 holes for the dowels. Find a strategic location for the dowels to be placed. Then poke holes on all of your crescent cut outs making sure that it's on the same area as to where your dowels are to be inserted.
7.) Now place the 6" crescent on top of the styro, Like the one shown on the photo.this will serve as the base for your cake so you will not cut into the styrofoam if you'll serve the cake. After that put a small amount of buttercream the cake board so the cake will adhere to it.
8.) Spread the frosting on every 2 layers of cake. Just like a sandwich. Don't put frosting on every layer.
9.) Now starting with your 6" sandwich cake, place it on your cake base. I used some clean and unused drinking straws to serve as cake support. Just insert the straw and cut it the same height as the cake. Then place the second 6" crescent cutout on top of the cake, then put some buttercream again, Then place the second cake sandwich again. Put some straws for support again and then put the 5" crescent on top, and repeat the same steps.
10.) Roll out a sheet of red fondant and glue it on top of your cake base using some water (brush it).
11.) Now, using a cake icer, frost the cake. It doesn't have to be perfectly smooth. Make sure you frost the bottom styrofoam to conceal it too. Then, using an angled spatula, level the frosting and remove the excess buttercream.
12.) Refrigerate. Then place the cake on top of your red cake base pushing down the dowells to secure the cake.
Step 4: Making Accessories
8.) I made the bird by pressing a diamond shaped black gumpaste and i cut the sides to make wings, press the end other wings to give it definition, then just by pinching, mold the bird shape.
9.) Using a lilac colored gumpaste and flower cutters make the dragonfly flowers as shown on the photo. If you don't have flower cutters, you can always cut it with small scissors to that shape. I also used silicone mold for the wings and for the tiny butterfly. But you can make your own. It's just faster if you have a mold.
Step 5: Making the Monkey
1.) Roll out a small ball of dark gray gumpaste and pull out the top in opposite directions. It should look like a T shape. And then slightly roll outthe parts that you pulled to make it look like thin arms, flatten the tip, then cut legthwise to make little fingers.
2.) Put the body in a skewer with a little edible glue, then roll a small round dark gray gumpaste and attach it to the body to make the head.
3.) To make the face, roll out a small gumpaste and flatten it to a size of a dime. Using your dresden tool, create the shape of the face as shown in the photo.
4.) Poke holes and put black gumpaste for eyes. And poke holes for the nostril too. Then create mouth with any cutting tool you have.
5.) Using small, pointed tweezers, tweeze the gunpaste in upwards direction to create the texture of fur.
6.) You can also put petal dusts on the cheeks to make the monkey look friendly.
Step 6: Making the Cat
1.) Roll out a black or dark gray gumpaste and make a fat tear drop shape. Cut the pounted part of the tear drop shape into 4 equal divisions. That will serve as the legs.
2.) Make thepointed edges rounder by pressing the tip. Fold it a bit to give it paws. Then etch lines to give the effect of paw fingers.
3.) To make the face roll out a round black or dark gray fondant and give it a slight press. Pull out a small part of the top, to make ears.
4.) Roll a small oblong shape of the same gumpaste color and perss the center with a dresden tool to make the mouth. Put a small triangle gumpaste for the nose.
5.) Poke holes for the eyes and put green gumpaste for the eyeballs. Paint some upright black almond shape for the iris.
6.) Attach the head to the body and using the tweezers, give it fur like texture as we did in the monkey.
Step 7: Gumpaste Roses, Buttercream Roses and Cake Finish
I made 2 versions if roses so you can choose what you want to put on your cake. It's really just up to you.
1.) Make a teardrop shape out of red gumpaste to make the bud. Then roll out a sheet of gumpaste, not too thin but not thick as well. I would say, it should be a bit thicker than a potato chip.
2.) Using a rose cutter or a teardrop shape cutter. Cut 3 or more sizes of fondant. The smallest size should be able to cover the bud you made.
3.) Now put the rose cutout in a foam pad, and with a ball tool, thin out the edges. You can also press a bit hard while running the ball tool on the edge of the petal to create frilled edges.
4.) Apply some glue on the petals and attach the adjacent petals to the bud. Then the other ajacent petals. There are a lot of ways you can make sugar roses online. This is just how I make it. I don't really follow a specific pattern. I just attach the petals alternately as I like. It looks more natural this way.
5.) Add more petals if you want the rose bigger.
- it's basically the same process of how I build up the gumpaste rose. You pipe out a bud, using a press release motion. Just pipe out the petals alternately.
1.) Prepare different shades of green buttercream, a dark green buttercream, a lemon yellow buttercream, red and sky blue buttercream.
4.) With a spoon spread out sky blue buttercream on the inside make the sky.
3.)Using your favorite buttercream recipe, Pipe out scrolls on the body of the cake with any tip that looks like this (mine is an unbranded tip so I don't know what number, sorry) Try to resist the temptation of making rosettes.
4.) Using a grass tip, pipe out dark green buttercream on the bottom of the cake base. Change the tip to a drop flower tip and pipe the on the remaining spaces on the cake body.
6.) With any large leaf tip. Pipe out brighter greens and lemon yellow to look like leaves on the hole inside the cake. Ake sure the sky still shows.
7.) Lastly assemble the cake toppers inside. I also painted some red foodcolor on the Frida Kahlo topper's neck to look like blood. Place the roses that you made and put a ribbon on the cake styro to hide the white parts. Just place the pieces as you wish and you're done.
Third Prize in the
Cake Decorating Contest