I was asked by my husband's workplace to create a cake for a silent auction for a local charity. When the recipient told me that she wanted me to create a Fall themed cake for her mother's 80th birthday, I really wanted to make it a light and happy cake for such a special occasion. And, Fall has so many great things for detail (apples, pumpkins, leaves, acorns, vines, scarecrows, etc.). And, I LOVE detail!! So, I went on a search for Fall themed cakes. Here are a few that peaked my interest:
Doodle Cakes - I loved the idea of leaves in a barrel, but I would have wanted it to be that exact brown color and that was just too dark for this cake. So, I had to come up with a different "base".
MallowDrama - When I saw this one (top right of her home page), I immediately knew I wanted to do a basket weave. I thought of my husband's grandmother's cake, which was basket weave; it was also for her 80th birthday :) And, I LOVED the idea of pumpkins and leaves in the basket!
PeggyDoesCake - I did like the little scarecrow guy on this cake of hers, but I ended up using a different one just for contrasting colors against the cake. The main elements I took from this cake were the pumpkin vines. I love the little curly vines! I had also considered putting the sign at the top of the cake like in this photo, but decided against it later.
PeggyDoesCake - That Peggy! What a Fall cake creator! She has such wonderful elements on her Fall cakes. I couldn't find her actual website, but it looks like she has her cakes on Flickr. Anyway, this cake was my biggest inspiration. I pulled almost every element from this cake...the apples in a barrel, the gourds, the scarecrow, etc. I had even planned to add the sunflowers but once I had everything on the cake, it felt complete without them, so I didn't use them.
Making a cake with so much detail is time consuming, but once you have a good technique down, it can go pretty quickly. Here are some tips that you might find helpful:
Basket Weave - There are lots and lots of great, free tutorials out there for basket weave on a cake. I have no idea which one I learned from the first time I tried basket weave, but this time around, I found this YouTube video by EatNowCryLater very helpful. She even gives you some flower creation ideas at the end as well.
Pumpkins - Shape the fondant into the pumpkin size you wish. Use a ball tool or your finger to make rounded indentations in the top and bottom of the pumpkin. Use a knife, with the dull side against the pumpkin, to make the indented lines on the pumpkin. Just start at the top and roll the pumpkin along the knife until you reach the bottom of the pumpkin. Then, I just added little stumps, leaves, and vines.
Vines - These are time consuming to roll out, but easy if your fondant is the right texture. I simply took a small piece of fondant and rolled it between my hand and a hard surface (my fondant mat) until it was round and thin like a vine. Then, I gently wrapped it around a pencil and set the pencil aside until the fondant vine dried. I only allowed it to dry about one day because I didn't want it to be so dry that I couldn't manipulate it without it breaking. Once dried, I gently slid it off the pencil and it was a curly vine.
Apples - I rolled out a small ball in the relevant fondant color. Then, I used a palette knife to create an "X" shape (to resemble the core placement) into the bottom of the apple. I used a modeling stick to bore out a small hole into the top. And, I placed a tiny stem and leaf into the hole.
Barrel - This is actually a small cake...lol. I didn't want to make the entire barrel out of fondant, so I decided to use remaining cake tops (from leveling the cake layers) to make a "barrel cake". I cut out two cake circles using round biscuit cutters, then put icing on them just like I would on a normal cake (in between the layers and all around the edges and top). Next, I made thin strips of brown fondant for the "wooden" barrel slats and pressed them up against the sides of the "barrel cake", leaving grooves in between each slat. Then I cut two long pieces of fondant to wrap around the top and bottom, making it look like a barrel. Last, I just filled the barrel with apples.
Leaves - I had previously made two Fall themed cakes (Fall Leaves and Pumpkins and Thanksgiving Baby Shower), so I had made leaves before. But those times, I had made each fondant leaf a different color and used the gel food coloring to literally paint (with a paint brush) each leaf to look like it was going through the "Fall color transition". Well, that took a REALLY long time. Plus, it wasn't necessarily the best way to go. So, this time, I just blended multiple colors of fondant together, creating a marbled look full of colors. It was just as effective and must faster.
As I've mentioned before, something ALWAYS goes wrong with a cake...something to laugh about once it's over...LOL. I had positioned this cake on a 12" round cake board (slightly towards the back of the board to leave room for the scarecrow and other decor), then I put the icing on and did the basket weave. Well, it wasn't much later that I realized that the scarecrow was not going to fit completely on the board. So, I had to attach the 12" round cake board to a square cake board in order to get all of the details around the cake. If you pay close attention to the photo above, you'll see both boards. It worked out in the end though :)
Fall is one of my favorite themes to do. I really enjoyed creating this cake and hope this post helps you with your next cake project!