A Critter Crunch birthday cake was requested of me from a friend of my hubby. Critter Crunch is a puzzle game available on the PlayStation Network. Hubby and I played the demo and really liked the adorable creatures and beautiful artwork in the game. I was not thrilled to discover that I wasn't very good at the game, though!
- carved 8"x3" chocolate cake (I can't remember which cake mix box)
- iced with vanilla Italian Meringue Buttercream
- filled with vanilla whipped pudding
- covered in marshmallow fondant
- "Happy Birthday" in blue Royal Icing
- eye glossed with 50/50 corn syrup/Everclear
They baked up pretty well and came out of the pan nicely. I think I'll do this from now on!
Over time I've learned that having a base board (cardboard or foam core) in the final shape of the cake is extremely helpful. Here is the rough shape, a slight teardrop cut out of a cake board. I used a steak knife to carve the cake into shape. The cake had been in the freezer overnight so it was easy to carve without mutilating it.
My cake wasn't originally as high as I wanted the final product to be. That meant I needed to build up some with icing. I also trimmed the sides to be within 1/4" of the cake board. I wanted the icing to be flush with the board when I covered it with fondant.
Luckily I've watched enough cake TV shows to know that I should carve first, then torte and fill. Otherwise, there'd be a huge mess of filling squishing out the sides and cake tearing and crumbling.
As always, my dam made from cake spackle.
My critter has some facial features and expressions. This was achieved by putting fondant on top of the buttercream but under the final fondant coat. I made some fondant snakes for the mouth and eyebrows. With icing I built up one side of the mouth snake so it would have a gradual rise. The other side was to be indented to give the illusion of his 2-tone body.
As suggested by Mike McCarey's Cakenology video (demonstrating how to carve a cake into the shape of a car), I used my hands and soft buttercream to smooth out the final layers of icing. After giving my critter a good belly rub, he was the smoothest cake I've ever made! I did about 3 passes, putting the cake in the freezer for a few minutes so the buttercream would firm up, then applying more room temperature buttercream on top.
Before belly rubs.
Marshmallow fondant colored with Wilton Golden Yellow and Lemon Yellow gel.
I actually think this is the best fondant job I've done on a cake! The fondant went on even and smooth; only 2 air bubbles to pop. It stuck to the buttercream without me having to wet it. Hurray! His feet are 2 chunks of extra fondant roughly shaped into triangles. I glued him down to the gold rectangular board with some piping gel.
This cake reminded me that I seriously need to purchase some clay tools. Gumpaste tools are nice (I have Wilton's set), but really, a good set of cheap wooden clay tools can go a long way. I only have a few clay tools left over from my high school days, but they were invaluable for bringing out the fondant ridges and lines.
Free-hand cut out some white fondant as his belly with a craft knife. Notice the shaggy cuts to emulate fur!
Do you know what's a complete waste of time and money? The Wilton Alphabet Cutters! I tried and tried to get a decent P. After a few attempt, I settled for what I got. Then came a B. There is NO FREAKING WAY anyone can get fondant out of the B shape. I don't even have a tool narrow enough to force the fondant out from the other end. Perhaps a bamboo skewer would have worked, but at that point I practically threw the fondant across the room.
I piped "Happy Birthday" with Royal Icing instead. Tip is Wilton #4.
I made some eyes with white and blue fondant, cut with a small round Christmas ornament cookie cutter. The gloss was 50/50 corn syrup/Everclear brushed on to it.
I am very pleased with how this little guy came out. I do wish I could have figured out how to give him little ears, but oh well. Also couldn't get a decent photo of him. Most of my caking is done at night with little ambient light.