Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Teapot Cake Tutorial

Last time, I posted a nice preview of the teapot cake I made for my sister's Bridal Tea Shower, but today I'm going to try my best to do a written tutorial.  The cool thing about this cake is that it looks way more complicated than it actually is.  If you're a little hesitant, give it a try.  I think you'll surprise yourself.

If you've been following my blog or know me at all, you know that I love decorating cakes.  I have become "the cake lady" and am the one everyone turns to when a cake is needed for a birthday or event.  I absolutely LOVE it.  So, for Kim's tea party I decided I wanted to try doing a shaped cake as opposed to my regular round and square decorated cakes.  It was so fun, and I can't wait to try it again!  Actually, I was having so much fun, I forgot to take pictures while I assembled the teapot cake I came to be so proud of!

I started by purchasing a Wilton Sports Ball 3D Cake pan from JoAnn's for about $12.  There are directions included, but it's pretty much the same as baking in a regular pan besides having to balance each half of the ball on the discs included (which is really not a challenge at all).  I used my favorite strawberry cake recipe and filled the two halves 3/4 full with batter.  I saved the rest for the hydrangea cupcakes I also made that day.  Once they were done, I let them cool for about five minutes, then let them finish cooling on a wire rack.

Unfortunately, here is where my camera was forgotten.  However, I am a visual learner and as a teacher, like to provide as many channels of learning as possible.  So, please forgive my TuxPaint elementary diagrams.  I wanted to make sure you could understand what I explain.

Once both pieces were cool, I needed to cut one of the halves so that it would stand flat and sturdy on the cake stand.  So, I cut about two inches off the rounded edge of one dome.  This was perfect because it later ended up being used as the "lid" of the teapot.  Here's an image to help you get an idea of where I cut:

Okay, if you can understand this next part of assembly...awesome!  This is the trickiest part, so bear with me.  I'm going to number these next steps to try to keep it easy to understand.
  1. I took the dome that I just sliced and turned it over, so the wider part was facing up and the side that I just cut from is on the cake plate.  You may also want to add a dot of icing to your plate before placing your piece to keep it from sliding around while decorating.
  2. Add your filling to the wide part of the bottom piece that is facing up.  So now you should have only one piece on your plate and filling on top of it.  
  3. Next, put the other half (not cut...even though the picture looks like it is cut) on top, wider side facing the filling.  When you place this piece on top, it should look like you have a ball sitting on your cake plate with a flat bottom.
  4. Like I mentioned, I created this image without taking too long to figure out how to do the top.  So, try to understand this part.  On TOP of your full dome half, put a small dot of icing.  Take the cut piece leftover from the bottom half that you cut to make the bottom flat.  Place that small part of cut cake on top of the dot of icing on top of the dome.  There will be a small gap between your top dome (half) and the small piece you placed on top.  So you should have a huge cake ball with a "hat," if you will.
Hopefully you could follow that.  I feel awful for not taking pictures this time around!  Here's a diagram to help you out:

Okay!  So, after you have assembled your cake pieces, you get to do the fun part...decorate!  Don't forget to start by covering your entire giant cake ball with a "crumb coat" or a first, light layer of icing.  This first layer will also help pin down the edges of the lid piece so you can't see the gap.  Let this dry first before doing a second layer.  The first layer also catches all of the crumbs that come off of the cake and put those speckles in your icing.  By allowing it to dry, your second layer should be near flawless.

For my spout, handle, and lid button, I used plain white, store-bought fondant.  You can find this at Wal-Mart, craft stores, or anywhere they sell cake-decorating supplies.  It is completely edible, and you can add flavor and/or color by kneading it in.  This was my first time working with fondant, and the white matched my cake, so I did nothing but take it out of the package to use it.  Once you take it out, you can pull off a chunk, roll it, and mold it into whatever shape you'd like.  It's kind of fun and reminded me of Play-Doh days!  If you are not a fan of fondant or can't find any, you could definitely use other things.  Royal icing is great for making solid shapes to decorate with, which is what I used to top the sugar cubes we used at the tea bar.  You could also bake cookies and stick them in as your extra pieces.  They're much lighter, easy to decorate, and, in my opinion, taste better than fondant.

One tip I would have for a cake this size is to make these pieces as thin and small as you can.  One problem I had is that my spout was a little heavy, so it took a lot to get them to stay where I wanted them!  Once your pieces are molded, allow them to air-dry a bit to harden.  That way, when you place them on the cake and are moving them around, you won't change their shapes too much.

So, once your cake is completely iced and your extra pieces are ready, add them to the cake.  This should be done when the base icing is complete, but you haven't decorated yet.  I did this by using toothpicks and sticking part in the fondant and part in the cake.  You will have to play around with angles and the number of picks you need to keep it sturdy.  I've learned this time to use smaller pieces next time.  I had to use lots of toothpicks.

Finally, you get to be creative!  I would recommend adding some kind of border around the edge of the lid to set it apart from the rest of the teapot.  I would also recommend adding a border around the spout and the handle to cover and imperfections or bumps from pushing them into the cake.  I always add a border to the base, too.  At this point, you can decide how to decorate your teapot.  I did small rosebuds around the middle with a polka-dot background.  You could make it fancier by doing flowers all over.  More whimsical by changing the colors and doing swirls, polka dots, and other fun shapes.  Have fun!

I had so much fun with this cake.  I am excited to find an excuse to make another teapot cake (and next time, I'll take pictures and edit this post).  Since the cake was so pretty and kind of realistic, I didn't want to write on it but did want there to be some recognition for Kim.  So, I added the words "Congrats Kim!" Straight to the cake plate.  

I got a lot of compliments on this cake.  Not only was it cute, but definitely delicious!  When I was trying to find a tutorial to help me out with figuring out how to do this, it was tough to find a step-by-step article or blog post anywhere.  I hope that my directions were easy enough to follow so you can make one, too!

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