Friday, May 25, 2012

Crocodile or Alligator Cake

Crikey! I know Queensland has been known to have crocodiles up north, but I never thought I'd have one in my kitchen. In fact, at this very moment it's in my pantry.
Did you know that homeless people have to sleep on the roofs of parked cars so they won't get eaten during the night? Where's Steve Irwin when you need him?
Now even home owners have to be on their guard. Where do I sleep when that thing is looking at me with its glistening yellow eyes and its white teeth flashing?
When I asked my son Ben what he wanted as a birthday cake, he told me he wanted a Croc (but you know toddlers, he can't say the R)
I thought it would be challenging, but with low self expectations I managed to create something he was thrilled with.Well, I figured that even if it turned out as a big blob of green with sharp teeth and called it a crocodile, he'd be thrilled. He's only two, after all.
But to my joy it turned out much better than anticipated, and was relatively easy! If someone else can do it, why can't you?
That's what I kept telling myself.
So you can make this beastly cake too. I decided this time to take photos as I went, and ended up with a camera covered in sticky fondant residue. As I was creating this at night, I apologise for the terrible quality of the photos. They were taken in very poor light, while I was in the middle of the creation (so now you can see how messy I get when I'm cooking!) The night is the only time I could whip this up without hands ploughing through the cake and icing! When I had finished, I left it on the kitchen bench and turned off the light. All I could see were glistening eyes and white teeth starring at me as I walked away. And yes, I had nightmares. But my son loved it.



CROCODILE CAKE

4 buttercake mixes
1 cup rice bubbles
200g spearmint leaves lollies
2 quantities of prepared rolled Fondant (get the recipe here)
4 cups icing sugar
1/3 cup milk (approximately)
green, red and yellow food colouring/dye

Draw out a plan. I ended up going for a square 20x20cm cake for the head (instead of a round one as drawn in picture above). 33x22.5 rectangular dish for the body and a 20x20 round tin for the tail (a bundt tin would be great here too). 
Bake the cakes, using one cake mix for the head, one for the tail and a combined two for the rectangular cake that will make the body of the crocodile. Cut out a pattern with baking paper as to the basic outline of the body. Place the cakes on a flat surface in the freezer for about 2 hours until semi frozen but still malleable.
When the cakes are firm enough to cut without having all that crumbly-business, place the paper patterns on your cake and cut off the superfluous pieces.
When all the main body parts are cut to the pattern, you can start using the cake scraps to build up areas on the cake, such as the face of the crocodile. It doesn't have to look neat, remember this is "stuffing" and crocodiles have a rough bumpy look to them anyway.
Don't forget side views matter too! Doesn't look pretty though, does it?
Carve all the desired details on the body and tail before the cakes completely thaw. Piece together to make sure everything looks in proportion, and is positioned where you want it on the cake board. I ended up cutting a chunk off the tail after this photo, it was too long and wavy.
Start mixing up food dye colours, until you get the right shade.
I arrived at this colour by mixing 4ml of green dye with 1 ml red, and 10 drops of yellow. Make sure you note your quantities! I ended up making about three batches of colour to paint the whole crocodile.
Combine the icing sugar and milk to make a thin icing (hubby bought chocolate icing sugar but it doesn't matter what the flavour is). This acts as a glue to hold down the rolled fondant. Smear over the crocodiles head and clean up any pooling residue. Roll out the fondant and gently lay over the cake. Press gently around the stuffing in the face for more definition. Cut off the excess fondant. (In hind-site I would have texturised the crocodile's face also as shown in the next step, with rice bubbles)

For the body and the tail, add texture with the Spearmint leaves lollies and rice bubbles. You can add as many or as few as you desire. Press the lollies firmly in position before laying the fondant layer on top, as they may fall over if not well secured. When the fondant is laid over the rice bubbles and lollies, gently press around them to add definition. The texture will really come through when you paint the fondant.
Repeat this process for the tail. (as you can see I got impatient and started painting the head and body already!)
If you're as impatient as I am, you will want to see the crocodile in green as soon as you can. You can start painting it as soon as the fondant is in place, if desired. I used a flat pastry brush to liberally apply the food colouring to the whole body. It sits in all the little cracks and crevices that come with the fondant stretching and adds to the texture. So amazing.
Check out that body! Ewww...who would want to be a slimy crocodile? Just loving the way the dye is sitting on this creature and pooling in the crevices.
Add the eyes from yellowed fondant cut out to desired shape and size. Add teeth and any final touches that are desired (I thought the coloured nostril holes were a nice finishing touch)

Do you think he was pleased to see this in the morning? I told you I get my kicks out of other people's pleasure in what I bake!
Sadly the lighting detracts from the creature and takes out a bit of the texture.


8 comments:

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE Ben's expression!! Possibly my favourite cake of yours yet! (Though my Baby Shower one still wins :)

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    1. hehe dont feel you have to love the tea pot cake:P this is by far my fave too:) and the mothers day rose cake. but the awesome thing about this one is it was actually kind of simple to make. anyone could have a go at it!

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  2. love the expression too!! awesome cake!!

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    1. thanks Suzie! i just love how easy it is to gob-smack little kids:)

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  3. Oh my goodness. This is FANTASTIC! I need to tangle with fondant sometime!

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  4. aw thanks Bee:) fondant is tricky, but worth it when you get some practice in. I'm still super clumsy with it. thank goodness crocs are so textured and the rough bits didnt matter too mach. I had a few holes to plug up here and there:/

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  5. This is insannelllyyy good! You are seriously talented! He looks absolutely chuffed to bits with his cake :)

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    1. aw you are very kind Procrastobaker:) thanks for popping by!

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