Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fondant Dog Cake Toppers

Last month, I was contacted by a nice woman who was in a major cake dilemma. She had ordered a cake for her father's 70th birthday party from a bakery. Just one week before the party, the bakery told her that they would not have time to make the fondant dogs she had ordered for the top of the cake. So she went online and found my post about the fondant dog I made for another cake. The other problem was that the party was in southern Maryland, I am in Pennsylvania, and she was flying from Michigan. She contacted me to see if I could make these dogs and ship them to Maryland for the party that week. I did some research and found that fondant decorations could be shipped if packaged properly, so I agreed to help her out--but it was the first time I ever tried to ship fondant.


There were two dogs and a duck toy to be made for the top of a cake. She sent me pictures of the dogs (a Husky and Bichon Frise) and toy to model the figures off of. I knew that straight fondant would not dry in time to send them, so I made them out of a combination of fondant and gum paste. I first tried a 50/50 mix but that dried too fast for me to work with and get the features of the dogs in before it got too hard. So, I switched to a 75/25 mix and added some shortening to prevent drying. This seemed to work the best.

I started the dogs the same way I did the previous one, by first shaping the body, head, legs and tail out of the fondant/gum paste mixture. Then I added some texture on the body to make the dogs fur. Eyes and a nose were also added out of colored fondant. I used food coloring and water to paint the coloring on the dog. I painted with a sponge and a thin paint brush.



From there more color to my fondant Husky was added to match the picture I was given, as you can see below. The fondant Bichon was easier since it was a white dog that had very short fur. I used some pink coloring and only sponged it lightly to show some contrast.


The duck toy was pretty simple. I made it out of just colored fondant. I used small scissors to give the duck a plush-looking texture. (Interlude by Dan: how freaking awesome is this picture? The first time Laurie showed me this picture, I honestly had to think for a few seconds about which one was a real 3-D figure, and which one was a the printout of the picture it was sitting on!)


I made the figures so they would have at least 24 hours drying time before I shipped them. Since the Husky was the biggest, I made it first so it had the longest to dry. Dan found an article online that gave great directions on how to ship fondant figures so they don't get damaged. First, you place them in individual plastic sandwich bags and let all the air out (this way they don't move around). Second, you place them in plastic Tupperware surrounded by tissue paper. Finally, you center the Tupperware in packing peanuts in a large box. This worked wonderfully and the figures made it to Maryland on time and without any damage!

LESSONS LEARNED:
1) Walk away for a bit if you get frustrated. I started the husky at least 5 times before I got it right. I walked away from it and came back and did it perfect the first time back.
2) Accept challenges, you never know what you are capable of doing until you try. I never shipped anything like this before and it worked out wonderfully.
3) Think outside of the box when faced with a problem. At first, I had no idea how I was going to get the Bichon's fur correct. I ended up using a piping tip to make it look fluffy and I love how it turned out!
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