October 4, 2009

Flying Saucer Cake

I began this cake flush with the success of my recent Tardis cake. I received a bit of a comeuppance.

The occasion for the cake was my friend Isaac's third birthday party. (You may remember Isaac from his second birthday cake and his first birthday cake.)

My goal in this design was to evoke the classic B-movie spaceships from the 50's and 60's (the title of the party's evite was "Plan 3 from Outer Space".) As I had so recently completed the Tardis cake, I was still interested in cakes with mirrors, LEDs, and visible interiors. I also wanted to personalize the cake, by including Isaac (in alien form), abducting his parents (in human form). So I designed a classic silver flying saucer with round portholes around the sides that would look into the lighted interior rooms of the ship, where alien Isaacs would be doing things that human Isaac loves to do - eating pretzels, climbing on unsafe things, splashing in a pool, and playing with trains. The entire ship would be mounted on a turntable, so it could slowly rotate. The turntable in turn would sit on a clear acrylic tube, representing the ship's tractor beam, within which I would enclose gum paste figures of Isaac's parents, in the process of being sucked up into the ship.

To make the rooms inside the ship, I started with two pieces of foam core - a 14" diameter circle for the bottom and a 14" diameter 2" ring for the top, so that I would later be able to put the cake inside. I split the space into eight equal slices with gum paste dividers, each with a row of white LEDs on top and bottom. I backed every other space with mirror, so that when their corresponding portholes were backed with mirrored window film and the LEDs were lit, they'd be mirrored ad infinitum within the ship, creating a spacey infinite corridor. For one of these spaces I used red LEDs instead of white, as that was where the conical thrusters would connect to the ship, thereby evoking a combustible power source.

The remaining four spaces became the rooms for the alien-Isaacs. Because I was going for a little-boy's-birthday vibe combined with my 60's B-movie vibe I painted one room aqua, one lime green, one orange, and one yellow. These are all also colors that Isaac's mother has used to decorate their house. Then I appliqued each room with various gum paste squares and circles, painted silver.

I made the aliens out of gum paste, serpentine with green skin and one big eye. To make them reminiscent of Isaac, I gave them puffy cheeks and little shocks of blond hair.

For the portholes, I used a template to cut out gum paste rectangles with windows in them, and draped them over custom forms to dry. The thrusters were also gum paste, wrapped around cones to dry, and then coated with royal icing for a sort of corrugated steel texture. Once the portholes dried, I used royal icing to stick sheet gelatin window panes to the back and, in the case of the portholes in front of the mirrored room, a layer of mirrored window film.

My sister kindly baked the cakes for me. There was space inside the perimeter defined by the rooms to put a 3" tall 10" diameter cake.

To make the tapered upper section of the ship, I started with a 10" diameter cake on top of a 14" diameter cake. I carved these into a truncated cone, 3" high, tapering from 14" diameter at the bottom to 6" diameter at the top. To get the appropriate architectural feel, I covered the cake with a layer of fondant and then the fondant with 16 pre-made gum paste trapezoids. Then I dropped this whole section on top of the cylinder with the rooms.

For the very top of the ship, I carved some 6" round cakes into a hemisphere and covered that with fondant. I mounted this cake onto a foam core circle in which I had embedded a ring of LEDs and mounted it on top of the other cakes.

With the main body of the cake assembled, I needed to get the base together. I embedded a ring of green LEDs into the plywood base to illuminate the tractor beam and then set about creating the people being abducted. I started with a wire armature and built up the figures in gum paste around that.

Once the figures were complete I installed the acrylic tube around them and then glued a turntable to the top of the tube. I had considered mounting the turntable at an angle, but I decided that might make it too hard for the turntable to rotate, so I kept the turntable level. As it turned out, I needn't have worried because the moment that I transferred my cake to the turntable it became clear that the turntable was nowhere near powerful enough to turn such a heavy cake. And thus my cake became stationary. Actually the turntable wasn't a total waste, as it still allowed me to turn the cake manually. This was convenient, since the cake was designed to be viewed from all angles, but it certainly lacked pizzazz.

With the cake mounted on the base my flying saucer still needed to taper at the bottom. Unfortunately, it proved to be far too difficult to attach the gum paste pieces that I had created for the bottom of the flying saucer and by this time it was so late that the royal icing would never have had time to dry. So I was forced to hot glue my Bristol board mockup to the bottom of the turntable. I don't like using non-edible materials any more than necessary, but in this case I felt that it was just too late to do anything else.

In fact, by this time it was about 5:00 am the morning of the party and it was too late for a lot of things. I had planned to finish all the edges very cleanly and wind up with a very polished final product that would live up to the standard that I set for myself with the Tardis Cake. Sadly, at 5:00 am, this was not meant to be. The best I could do was to whip up a few fondant ropes to cover the most egregious seams, slap a coat of silver luster dust on everything and go to bed. I was not thrilled with the results. I'd like to claim that it was some sort of homage to the shoddy special effects that we all love so much in our B-movies, but the sad truth is that it was just poor time management.

The next morning I just had time to cover the plywood base with a layer of pressed sugar and make it to the party in time to help hang up the decorations. The cake did make the car trip with no untoward effects, but there evidently was a lot of moisture trapped in the acrylic tube because the figures' gum paste limbs softened and wilted, so where their arms had meant to be pulled upwards by the inexorable force of the tractor beam, instead their arms curved despondently towards the earth.

I actually don't mind an occasional failure. When you're pushing the boundaries of a medium you have to expect a few unsuccessful trials. This failure irked me however, because in this instance my failure was not due to excessive ambition but to deficient planning. I view the first type of failure as an inevitable result of man's eternal striving to better himself, but the second is merely the inevitable result of opting to watch America's Next Top Model instead of working on the project at hand.

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August 16, 2009


It's a TARDIS! It's bigger on the inside! It's two feet tall (quarter scale)! And aside from the lights, everything you see is edible. Click for lots more detail and in-process shots.

I love Dr. Who. Just a few weeks ago my sister-in-law and I waited in line for five hours to get good seats at the Dr. Who panel at Comic-Con. Totally worth it!

Since I would have to be a Time Lord to make a Tardis cake that could actually go anywhere in time and space, I decided to do the next best thing - make a Tardis cake that's bigger on the inside. Or at least appears to be. Like I said, I'm not a Time Lord. I chose to go with the new Tardis interior because, as it is both more organic and more interestingly illuminated than any previous Tardis interior, I thought it would be the most visually effective.

First I had to figure out the best way to create the illusion of a more spacious interior. I tried to consult the internet about optical illusions, but didn't find anything helpful, so I went with old fashioned trial and error. I played around with a lot of different configurations, eventually settling on two convex mirrors arranged at about a 45 degree angle. To get the curve I wanted, I used flexible carnival mirror, glued onto my custom made wood and mat board form.

Next, in order to illuminate the inside of the Tardis and the "Police Box" signs on the outside, I needed to learn at least a little bit about electronics. So I ordered a DIY Electronics Kit from the MakerShed that was really sort of geared for pre-teens, but it was also very helpful. Armed with new-found knowledge of resistors and LEDs, I trolled the internet for the best deals and ordered a total of 385 LEDs in blue, aqua, green, yellow, white, and flashing white. They didn't all make it into the cake, but I did wind up using enough of them that I used seven nine-volt batteries that power them. I embedded these batteries into a plywood base and mounted the mirrors.

With my structure in place, it was time to start making gum paste pieces. The exterior required fifty-two separate pieces of gum paste - two for the panels on each of the four sides plus one inward-facing panel for the side that looked into the interior and three to back the windows on the other three sides, six for each of the four "Police Box" signs (some of which were quite tedious, as I had to painstakingly cut out the words to let the light through), and sixteen for the roof. Later I needed an additional seventy-two pieces of gum paste for the window frames and mullions. I went with a grey-blue marbled effect because I thought it would look more convincing and more interesting than a uniform color field.

To make the interior I started with a gum paste floor with cutouts to let the light through from all the white LEDs embedded in the base. In order to enhance the illusion of interior space and elevate the bottom of the central console sufficiently to make it easily visible through the windows, I gave the floor a serpentine curve, supported by gum paste struts. Then I stuck a layer of rice paper to the top of the gum paste floor and painted it dark grey with food coloring. On top of this I piped grey royal icing expanded steel. It went pretty quickly, because I got a lot of practice making royal icing expanded steel when I was making the Demolition Cake. To give it a nice sheen, I went over it with some silver luster dust.

Now it was time to make the control console. Fortunately, thanks to the mirrors, I only needed to make one eighth of it. The console structure is gum paste and sheet gelatin, assembled around blue, green, and aqua LEDs and attached to the mirrors with clear piping gel. Then I had a good time sticking on a myriad of gum paste and royal icing levers, dials, cables, monitors, etc. At times the mirrors made things a little difficult because it was sometimes hard to remember which was the real console and which was the reflection. Liberal use of silver, bronze, and gold luster dust made everything nice and shiny.

With the interior finished, I assembled the exterior gum paste pieces, adding the royal icing molding around the perimeter of each recessed panel, and installing the window mullions and backing.

It was at this point in the process that we decided that we really should schedule a party so that we would have something to do with this cake when it was finished. Fortunately, we have a lot of nerd friends, so we soon had about forty positive rsvps to our evite. It was also at this point in the process that I took some time off to go to Comic-Con and then on a family trip to Colorado, so my gum paste pieces had a long time to thoroughly dry. This was definitely an advantage, because it would have been very hard to assemble the cake with anything less than 100% dry gum paste and because the pieces were so large that they did require some significant drying time.

A week before the party I began assembling the exterior, beginning by putting together the "Police Box" signs around my strings of white LEDs. I backed the cutout letters with rice paper, both to diffuse the light and so that I could stick the free-floating interior pieces of the O's, P's, A's, and B's to the rice paper.

Because of the mirrors and the interior space only a little less than half of the interior was actually going to be made of cake. This meant that I could install two of the four sides prior to baking any cake and even attach and solder their respective "Police Box" signs.

Three days before the party I baked the cake. We decided to go with a banana cake with chocolate buttercream icing because, to quote the Doctor, "You should always bring a banana to a party. Bananas are good." I needed a total of eight two inch tall, ten inch square cakes. Of the eight cakes, seven of them were cut in half on the diagonal and stacked in the body of the Tardis. The last cake was reserved for the square top section.

With the cakes in place, I covered them with a layer of fondant, to prevent the gum paste exterior pieces from coming into contact with the buttercream, which would moisten, soften, and weaken the gum paste. Then I was able to install the last two side pieces and their respective "Police Box" signs.

I put the top section together separately, carving the slanted roof, covering it with fondant, and then assembling the gum paste pieces around it with royal icing. I left a hole through the middle, so that I could run blinking LEDs through it for the light on top. Once the top section was in place, my Tardis really started to look like a complete piece, but it still needed a lot a detail work.

I used fondant rather than gum paste to cover the base and for the trim on the corners and in the center of each side panel because some of them needed to be relatively thick, which is easier to accomplish with fondant. I did use gum paste, however, for the thin strips of molding around the perimeter of each "Police Box" sign.

To make the little light on top, I wrapped rice paper around gum paste circles, then put panels of sheet gelatin on top of that, followed by gum paste trim and royal icing mullions. The curved top is gum paste dried over Styrofoam balls.

With all the major features in place, I went over the entire structure with royal icing smoothed with a damp paintbrush, to hide unwanted seams and fill in a few gaps. Then, to give it that distressed look of a vehicle that's been to the end of the universe and back again, I went into all the corners with some black powdered food coloring on a soft paintbrush.

To make the sign for the front of the Tardis, I blew up an image of it to the correct size and then essentially made some edible transfer paper by coating the back with black powdered food coloring. I put this on top of a dry white piece of gum paste and traced all the letters with a stylus to transfer the text onto the gum paste below. Then I painted over the letters with black paste color.

The finishing touches were the royal icing handles, hinges, and tacks to hold on the sign, and the gum paste lock.

Carrying the cake to the table for the party was a bit stressful and difficult, as it probably weighed fifty pounds and all of the weight was in one half of the cake. Part of me was convinced that, after literally months of planning and building, I was going to drop it at the penultimate moment. But actually the move went perfectly smoothly. I got my brother-in-law to help me and he even bravely volunteered to carry the heavy end.

I'm really pleased with the way this one came out, maybe more so than any cake I've ever made before. Please note that, with the exception of the mirrors, the electronics, and the wooden base and dowels and foam core separators that would needed in any cake this size, it is entirely edible. (And if anyone knows how to make an edible mirror, please let me know.) It's hard to capture the "bigger-on-the-inside" effect in a photo, but I do think it was pretty darned successful. By an odd coincidence, Cake Wrecks (one of my favorite websites) did a Dr. Who post on the very same day that we had our party, so I immediately sent them photos of the cake, mere hours after it had been consumed, and they very kindly posted it right away!

For hours after we attended the Dr. Who panel at Comic-Con, my sister-in-law and I were all a-twitter about how awesome it was; now I still kind of feel that way about this cake.


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March 29, 2009

Dinosaur Graveyard Cake

Pastry arts for a good cause - this cake was raffled off at a fundraiser for my nephew's preschool.

Watch the train on YouTube
...and more
...and more

My nephew's pre-school was having a fundraiser. My challenge - make a cake for the raffle that fulfilled all of the following conditions:

The cake should be:

  1. Small enough that people wouldn't be intimidated by the prospect of eating it.
  2. Sturdy enough that there would be minimal possibility of breakage when the winner transported it home.
  3. Enough like a normal cake in appearance that people would recognize it as such when walking by the raffle table.
  4. Appealing enough to the average two-to-four-year-old that he or she could be counted upon to pester his or her parents into purchasing raffle tickets for it.
  5. Appealing enough to the average parent of a two-to-four-year-old that he or she would be willing, with some childish prompting, to spend a few bucks for a raffle ticket for a good cause.
  6. Appealing enough to me that I wouldn't get bored making it.

Collectively, these represent waaaay more constraints than I have ever had placed on one of my cakes before. Prior to this, my biggest restriction was when Barbara May and I made a cake for our friends' wedding and they said that, ideally, it probably shouldn't bleed, explode, or catch fire.

So I had a bit of a challenge developing an initial concept, but ultimately I came up with a solution that I think fulfilled all the requirements. Viewed from one angle it would appear to be an ordinary 12" round cake, covered with white fondant, delicately decorated with cornelli lace, so as to appeal to people who like their cake to look like cake. From the other side, however, the fondant would be cut away to reveal a subterranean tunnel with a train going around and around, so as to appeal to the toddler set. The train would be pursued by a ravenous dinosaur, so as to appeal to me.

I think I can best explain the process of construction by breaking it up into its component elements.

The train:
The first thing I needed was a way to make the train go. I figured the easiest thing to do would be to get some kind of battery operated car toy and build my train around it, so I went to Toys R Us. Mind you, I detest Toys R Us, for various reasons that I needn't go into here, but I was in a hurry and it was my best option for a quick solution. The toy I selected was a battery operated Thomas the Tank Engine, which turned out to be delightfully easy to decapitate, leaving me essentially with a AA battery on wheels.

In keeping with the subterranean / archeological theme of the cake, I found a photo of an old-timey mining cart to work from. First I encased the body of the train in a box made of flat gum paste pieces, with semicircles cut out to accommodate the wheels, then I added additional gum paste wooden slats. I used one of the semicircular cut off pieces from the wheels to cover the little magnetic hookup that toy train cars have on the back. I also made a cow catcher for the front. Because of all those cows that archaeologists encounter in underground caves.

I wanted to cover the wheels (which were bright green) with gum paste to make them more rustic and less plastic looking, but every time I tried, the wheels came out too big for the track (more on that later) so I wound up just painting the green wheels with black food coloring.

To get some human interest into my tableau, I wanted to put a little gum paste archaeologist in the train car. After all, no self-respecting dinosaur would be chasing an empty train car - a T-Rex in particular would need the prospect of juicy meat to get him moving. I tried to make my archaeologist look really terrified, with a gaping mouth and wide, staring eyes, looking over his shoulder at his dreadful pursuer. I also couldn't resist making him a little Indiana-Jones-style hat and a pickaxe. The train had a big button on top to start and stop it. At first, my plan was to put my little man directly on top of that button so that you had to push on his head to make the train go, but then I realized that was just too risky to be worth it - who wants to see a man with a smooshed head being chased by a dinosaur? So I moved him to right in front of the button and left the button alone. I'm glad I did because by the time I was done some crumbs or something must have fallen into the mechanism because the button got a bit tempermental.

I then put a coat of paint on everything, using paste food colors thinned with vodka. It has recently been pointed out to me that using vodka to paint things intended for children might not be 100% kosher, which had never occurred to me. I choose to assume that the majority of the alcohol evaporates away and that what's left is so minimal as to make no difference. Certainly my nephew has shown no ill effects from the last three birthday cakes that I've made for him.

With my base coat in place, I was ready to add fine details. I made some royal icing chains and rivets. I also added some royal icing dinosaur bones around my archaeologist, and threw in some oreo cookie crumb dirt for good measure. I used some more vodka (Woo hoo! Par-ty!) with bronze luster dust to make the chains look metallic.

The track:
Now I had an operational train, but a train doesn't do anyone any good unless it goes where you want it to go. So I needed a track. It took me five or six cardboard mockups before I got one where the tracks were the right width and the right distance apart and correctly positioned within the circle of the cake. Once I had a functional mockup that worked with my little toy train, I covered a foamcore circle with a 1/4" thick layer of white fondant and used my mockup as a template to carve the fondant away to create the two concentric circles of the track. With the fondant cut away, I needed to do something to cover the foam core revealed underneath. After a few experiments, I settled on painting the revealed foam core base red (which frankly would have been a lot easier to do had it occurred to me to paint it red before I covered it with fondant). Because I didn't do the world's best job of this, I dusted the track with a lot of brown and black powdered food coloring and silver luster dust to try to conceal my mistakes.

The dinosaur:
A little train by itself might be interesting enough for pre-schoolers, but I have loftier aspirations. To keep my interest, the cake needed a monster. And it had to be Big! Fierce! Mean! Prehistoric! RAAAWR! I settled on T-Rex.

Step 1 - find internet photos. Of course, the internet crazies have conflicting opinions on what T-Rex looked like, so I just picked the skin texture and color scheme that seemed the most appealing to me.

I made two gum paste bodies, because I wasn't sure quite what size I wanted. I wound up using the bigger one. By letting the gum paste dry for a few minutes, so that it developed a bit of a dry shell, and then bending the body a little I was able to create a delightful wrinkly skin texture.

In order for the dinosaur to chase the train, it of course needed to be on wheels. My first idea was to use the wheels from a tiny little toy skateboard. This didn't work at all. For one thing, toy skateboard wheels turn out to be very flimsy and not very well aligned. I know this is a shock, considering that I bought it for $3.95 at Target. For another thing, toy skateboard wheels are extremely small, on the order of 1/8" in diameter. Since my layer of fondant between the two track circles was on the order of 1/4" thick, I clearly had a problem. I tried to salvage my skateboard wheel solution by cutting larger plastic circles and gluing them to the existing skateboard wheels. Then I realized that this was a stupid idea and I should just make the wheels from scratch.

I cut two new sets of plastic wheels, larger for the front, smaller for the back and put hot glue rims on them so as to give them the requisite traction. For the axles I used brass tubing, encased in slightly larger diameter brass tubing to allow it to rotate freely. I attached these to the body of the dinosaur by using royal icing and by cramming brass tubing up into the body.

I tried to mask the wheels a little when I added the gum paste legs, but since I was simultaneously trying to position the legs as if T-Rex was in a full-out run, and since I was trying to conceal four wheels with two legs, I wasn't very successful. I chose a nice muted ochre and brown color scheme, with some purple and green details, again using vodka and paste food colors for paint. Once that dried, I used royal icing to make little teeth and claws. I of course couldn't resist adding a bit of food coloring blood to the tips.

The hookup:
I now had a train on wheels and a dinosaur on wheels but in order to make the dinosaur chase the train I needed to connect the dinosaur to the train. I cut and bent a piece of brass tubing into the correct curve. Gluing it to the dinosaur was easy. Gluing it to the train was exceedingly difficult. First I tried hot glue. Then I tried Superglue. Then I tried hobby cement. Then I tried epoxy. As it turns out, for some inexplicable reason, none of these things stick to the underbody of Thomas the Tank Engine, even after he's been roughed up with a flat file. Eventually I resorted to the king of household glues - Gorilla Glue. Because Gorilla Glue expands as it dries, I was terrified that it would push everything completely out of alignment, but it actually worked.

The tunnel:
With my train and dinosaur set, I needed a tunnel for them to run through. My original plan was to create a nice rocky texture by making a mold in the shape I wanted the tunnel to be, lining it with plastic produce bags (because they release easily from chocolate), filling it with crushed ice, and then pouring tempered chocolate over it. In my imagination, this technique created a beautiful organic texture. In reality, it created absolutely nothing of value because the chocolate set up before it got beyond the first layer of ice. I went to plan B.

Plan B involved making two concentric tubes of chocolate with holes in them to form the inner and outer walls of the tunnel. One would be 6" in diameter, to fit around the 6" round cake that would be in the middle of my creation. The other would be 12" in diameter, leaving a 3" tunnel for the train to pass through.

At first I envisioned creating these tubes by spreading chocolate over bubble wrap (which also releases easily from chocolate), cutting it into appropriate rectangles, and then wrapping the rectangles around cake tins of the appropriate diameter, all while the chocolate was set up enough to cut accurately but malleable enough to wrap around the cylinder. This didn't work either. By the time the chocolate set up enough to cut it was too firm to wrap, so it just cracked when I tried to bend it into the right curve. I was also having problems getting my chocolate in good temper, so it wasn't setting as firmly as I would have liked. Normally I would blame problems like this on my own relatively limited experience working with chocolate. In this case though I'm more inclined to blame the problem on the chocolate itself because, at the same time as I was making this cake, I was also making chocolates to raffle off at the event, and I was having spectacular success tempering chocolate bars that had been sitting in our cabinets for so long that they were essentially just big slabs of chalky blooms. For the cake, though, I was using a new bag of chocolate medallions from my local cake supply store and I couldn't get them in temper to save my life. So I choose to blame the chocolate.

My third plan was to wrap the 6" and 12" cake pans in tin foil and them pipe tempered chocolate onto them in an abstract pattern. Due to my issues with getting my chocolate in temper I was concerned with the stability of the structure and I thought that I might get it to be sturdier and set up faster by mixing in a little corn syrup. This is a technique that I used to good effect when I made the shrunken head truffles, but in this application it just seemed to make the chocolate more brittle. So the technique that I finally ended up with was putting the tin foil wrapped cake tins in the freezer and piping the (sort of) tempered chocolate onto the cold foil in an abstract pattern with lots of open space. This helped the chocolate to firm up quickly when it touched the cold foil so that it wouldn't drip down the sides of the cake pan.

Third time's a charm. This time my plan more or less worked, although I still wasn't happy with the temper of my chocolate and my finished pieces broke in a few places when I unmolded them from the tin foil. But I figured it was nothing I couldn't repair when I put it in place around the cake.

The cake:
The cake itself is actually the most boring part of this story. All I needed was a 6" round cake. I tried a new recipe for chocolate cake, but when I went to torte it I realized that it wasn't baked all the way through, so I had to make an emergency backup cake. Since I didn't have any more cocoa powder I went with a white cake, which turned out fine. I torted and filled that one with buttercream icing. My sister took the incompletely baked cake, carved a hole out of the center to remove the uncooked part, put some ice cream in the middle, and took it to a friend's birthday party so it wasn't a total loss.

The facade:
To make my 6" cake surrounded by chocolate cylinders look like a 12" cake with a chocolate tunnel inside, I premade two pieces of white fondant. One was a simple 12" circle to cover the top of the cake and tunnel. The other piece was to go part way around the perimeter of the cake, but it also had to appear to be cut away so as to reveal the tunnel inside. I rolled out a piece of fondant, then cut it into a sort of ragged trapezoid. I used a ball tool to thin out the rough edges then draped the whole piece over the side of a 12" cake pan to get the right curve. To make sure that these pieces were dry enough to maintain their rigidity I made them a week in advance.

Putting it all together:
With all my components pre-made it was a simple matter to place my 6" round cake in the center of my train track and piece together my chocolate tunnel around it. For some reason my 6" round chocolate cylinder was bigger than I needed it to be, but the fact that it was poorly tempered meant that it was easy to cut a slice off to adjust.

Chocolate tunnel in place, I stuck my fondant circle on top and my curved fondant piece around the edge with some royal icing. I was a bit concerned about the top fondant circle drooping, as a large section of it was unsupported. My concerns were not wholly unfounded, as close examination of the finished cake does uncover some definite unintended curvature to the top of the cake, but as it didn't seem to pose a risk of structural cake failure I didn't let myself get unduly concerned.

In order to integrate the dinosaur with the cake, I incorporated subtle dinosaur skeletons into the cornelli lace that I piped onto the fondant. I used a #2 tip because I was too lazy to use a #1 tip. I also put a couple of dinosaur skeletons onto the inner wall of the chocolate tunnel.

When we set the cake up at the fundraiser, we tried to position it such that children would be able to see it easily, but not grab the train. For the most part, we succeeded. Only at one point during the party did I have to shoo away a toddler who was trying to snatch the dinosaur. The cake was ultimately won in the raffle by one of the kids from my nephew's preschool. I hope that he and his family enjoyed it.

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