Thursday, May 8, 2014

A Dinosaur Train Birthday Party - The Cake, Ol Spinosaurus

My son wanted a 3D cake of Ol Spinosaurus, for his 4th Birthday.  For those who don't know, Ol Spinosaurus is a character from Dinosaur Train, a wonderful Jim Henson production, that my now 4 year old, has loved for the past 18months.

We searched high and low for a suitable cake tin, but settled on a Dolly Varden cake tin to make the body, two of that is, so we could get the foot ball shaped body we were chasing.  I have chronic fatigue along with a couple of other conditions, so I am open to all of the help I can get as I cannot stay up to all hours icing a cake or stressing because I simply don't have a clue what to do.  Now I knew this cake would be a challenge, so I called on a lovely friend of mine and we put our heads together.  Janette is the expert on which icing to use, makes it and colours it.  I was the eternal optimist.  Now I must confess we did try to cut down a soccer ball, but this didn't work at all; the gluten free cake did not cook through and crumbled into a hundred pieces.  We tried a couple of recipes to find one that stuck.

We cooked two of these; one gluten cake, the other a gluten free cake.
So, I make up recipes and my hubby is the cook.  We made a "normal" chocolate gluten cake as they are lighter and stronger than a gluten free cake and then he made a chocolate gluten free cake - heavy and brittle.  But I figured that the GF cake could sit on the cake board and we could lift the gluten cake and attach the head to it.  We also made GF round cakes and volcano shaped cakes that could be cut into hips.  We added choc chips to these so they gave another texture for those that ate the hips.

We tried the circles for the legs but they just weren't the right shape, the volcanoes were the perfect shape with a small amount of shaping.
The secret of cooking these cakes through was the cooking rod.  The two dolly varden cakes were joined with Royal icing, shaped and set on a pre-prepared 55cm circular cake board, which was covered in marbled blue fondant - Janette's forte. I shaped and made the hind legs out of gluten free cake by cutting the small volcano shaped cakes and set them against the body. 

I then made flowers out of flower paste whilst Janette worked her magic making his skin.
The flowers and leaves were chosen by Benjamin, in the background you can see the Dry Ice gently smoking
 Janette had prepared the sail the night before out of flower paste so it was hard and easy to work with. Together we lay the skin over the body and add the contrasting brown and then we textured it with an embossing folder.   Janette set the sail into the cake as I made small balls out of fondant that were then shaped by Janette into the spines along the dinosaur 's back. This is what helped to hold the large sail in place.  The cake is not only taking shape but form as well good and REAL does this look!  The cake is not only taking shape but form as well good and REAL does this look!

The tail was next and Janette made a purrrfect tail out of fondant.
Janette then made the wave of marbled blue fondant to encompass the dinosaur's body to ensure the effect of him being in the big pond/water.  We placed this around the body, rolling and forming this long thin piece of fondant.  I think this worked wonderfully. 

Janette had also prepared the front legs the night before out of flower paste and added white claws. 

I shaped a Styrofoam ball backed by a cube (joined with a skewer) to make the dinosaur 's head and neck whilst Janette worked her magic on a two layer skin.  The first layer is the one she shaped around the Styrofoam structure, the second was the skin and contrasting brown fondant.  Janette then worked on the jaws, added the mouth and tongue and joined this to the head with skewers and textured it.  We maintained the mouth shape this skewers and shaped a wad of paper towel until the structure stabilised.  The head was joined to the body with a long wooden rod.    

There were support skewers coming out of everywhere...and he looked so funny with out teeth

The eyes were created and added by Janette along with final touches of skin texture by gently pressing the embossing folder over the icing.

Then the head. The mouth, tongue and teeth were made from flower paste and left to dry hard.
The teeth along with the birthday cake banner were the last additions to be added.

The finishing touch was the dry ice - which looked spectacular and fascinated the children.  That was the most fun of the whole thing.  Ol Spinosaurus lives in the big pond and it is thought that the waters were swampy and steamy.

A HUGE thank you to Janette Hopgood and her family for putting up with us for two evenings as we clothed the body, Lex and my husband for the support with cooking, transporting, cleaning, driving and dry ice and thank you to those that photographed this amazing creation - Shell, Sally, Matt, Heather and Rachael Joy Photography.
The finished product, candles alight, dry ice misting...
 I know Ben just loved him, I think it was all a bit surreal...seeing his favourite dinosaur in the shape of a cake in the foggy big pond; and he was able to share this with his friends and family.

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