This is my first Instructable, and the very first shaped cake I have ever made! Also, the very first shaped cake I have ever iced, so go easy on my crummy icing skills.
My mum first made this cake about 10 years ago for my late uncles birthday. He died last year, and his birthday is coming up, so I thought this might be a good way to celebrate his memory. Also, it's just so CUTE.
This cake is also much easier to cut into even pieces, if you're too lazy (like me) to cut triangles in a circle cake.
Step 1: What You'll Need
- Any old cake mix. White is best. I was dumb and used chocolate, but it's all I had on hand. (Note: I am allergic to eggs, so all of the cakes I've ever had in the past were crumbly messes that wouldn't stick together. I finally found this mix by Judy's Magic Mixes, and it actually stuck together. Hence, no shaped cakes before.)
- Whatever other ingredients your cake mix requires
- Your favourite icing, store-bought or homemade. White.
- Green food colour (Actually, whatever colour you want. It's your snake.)
- Pull 'n' Peel, or any licorice laces
- Decorating gel
- 2 milk chocolate chips
- Large mixing bowl
- Hand mixer (or mix it yourself. I'm just lazy.)
- Large-ish circle cake pan. Has to be a circle!
- A sharp knife
- A small bowl or something round, about half the circumference of your cake pan
- Cookie sheet or just some flat, portable surface thing
- Wax paper or parchment paper
- ...an oven.
Step 2: Bake and Cool the Cake
Fairly straightforward. Bake your cake according to the instructions on the box, or your own recipe. Make sure you put it in a circle pan! That's the most important part.
Protip: If your cake mix asks for hot water, sometimes using the same amount of freshly brewed coffee instead of the water adds an interesting taste. Try it! This is a 'play with your food' challenge, after all.
Once the cake is done, stick it in the fridge or freezer for a little while. If you freeze it for an hour or so, cutting it will be much easier, and give you cleaner lines with less crumbs. I was dumb and didn't freeze it.
Step 3: Cut the Cake
Once your cake has cooled, take it out of the pan. Put a plate on top and flip the pan upside down. Then you'll have the nice flat side of the cake facing up.
Now take the small bowl or round thing and put it in the middle of the cake. Gently press it into the cake, so you have a small indented ring.
Try to make sure your bowl leaves the outside ring about two inches wide.
Remove the bowl and use your sharp knife to cut around the indent. This is where having the cake frozen helps, because it won't be crumbly and you'll have a very clean edge.
Make sure you cut all the way through. I wouldn't try lifting the cake now, because it might fall apart.
Now, cut the cake directly in half.
Step 4: Shape the Snake
Gently remove your pieces of cake from the plate (with a spatula, or your hands if you're adventurous) and place them on wax paper or directly onto a cookie sheet.
The two large outside pieces will be the snakes body. Flip one of them upside down again, and stick the two ends together to make an 'S' shape. You can use a bit of icing to stick them together if the cake will be moved around a bit.
Careful when moving your pieces, because your cake mix might be more crumbly than mine. Gluten free cake mixes are surprisingly sturdy!
Step 5: Head and Tail
Your snake is almost done! It just needs a head an tail. Using the leftover small half circles, shape one into a head. Make sure the head is wider than the body, or else it would look kind of silly. I probably don't need to tell you that.
Try a diamondish shape for your head. I got a little careless and mine ended up a little too round, but I still think it's cute.
Use the last half circle to make a tail. You can just cut it in half and thin off the edges a bit to give it a pointy, tapering tip.
Stick the head and tail to opposite ends of the body, and glue them there with icing.
When placing the head, I shaved off a few millimeters of cake from the end of the body to make a thinner neck.
Step 6: Icing!
Like I mentioned earlier, this is my first time icing a shaped cake. I had no idea how to do it. (I'm 20 years old, can you believe I've never iced a cake before?) So, it turned out a little messy. I'll get better with practice, and hey, it'll taste good anyway!
Pour a few drops of green food colouring into a large amount of icing. I used half a can of Duncan Hines 459g can of whipped vanilla icing, and it was a little too much, but it's better to have too much icing than too little. Trying to make the exact same shade of green again is a real pain. But if that doesn't bug you, whatever. Snakes can be gradated colours!
Spread the icing all over the cake. Put the cake in the fridge or freezer again for about an hour to let the icing harden enough to decorate on it.
Or, if you're like me, don't wait at all and decorate it right away. Because I have nopatience.
Step 7: Final Touches
Almost done! Just need to make him a little more snakey.
Take two strands of your Pull 'n' Peel, try to keep them stuck together. Cut that piece about 4 inches long, and then separate them to about an inch in. This will make his forked tongue.
If you're using plain licorice lace, use a sharp knife to cut it in half to about an inch in. Same effect.
Using a toothpick, carve out a little hole at the end of his face. Stick the licorice in there and spread the fork apart a bit.
Put the 2 chocolate chips on either side of the head. Make them far apart, because snake's eyes aren't close together. If you want to get fancy and realistic, put them on the side of his head, not on the top. I'm not that cool.
Take your decorating gel and make a fun pattern on his back. I figured diamonds were the easiest, and much less time consuming than covering him in scales, but that's up to you!
I also made little ovals around his eyes, which I think made him just a little more snakey.
Step 8: Other Ideas
There are lots of things you can do with this cake.
Flip it the other way around, make it into an 'S' initial for a child's birthday;
Make squared off edges and shape it into a '5' for a 5th birthday;
Make three cakes and put them together for a SUPER long snake for a large party;
Use different icing colours to make it into a crazy rainbow snake OR an earthworm (we all know a child who likes to eat bugs!)
And whatever else your crazy mind thinks of! It's your cake, have fun! Experiment! Play with your food!