How To Make A Fabulous Mermaid Cake
This week, I've got an amazing gravity-defying mermaid cake, perfect for any mermaid birthday parties. Or, under the sea events. Or, even if you just wanna treat the mermaid lover in your life cos they deserve it. Life is so much better down where it's wetter! I got you covered with a step by step guide taking through from start to finish. I’ll be honest, this cake is not for the faint-hearted. It’s a balancing act and caused me a couple heart palpitations but together, we can make it, who's with me?!?!
Now for the fun part, ain’t she cute?? It’s hands down my favourite cake so far. I mean most stressful, yes, but definitely my favourite. At one point, I was carrying it downstairs and almost missed the last step causing me to overbalance and the cake to tip oh so scarily tail first towards the floor. I kid you not, my heart stopped for a second. I saw my life flash before my eyes. So much so, that I wouldn’t let it sit on the counter the rest of that day. It was locked away in the fridge until candle time and then immediately cut into pieces. It’s the first time I’ve been happy to cut a cake open, just through sheer relief.
So I have a little bit of sad news before we crack on, this cake marks the start of a new era at Icing Insight. Rather than bring you a selection of cakes and crafts I’ve decided to slim down to cover only cake decorating, particularly with fondant. Although, depending on the design I will work to incorporate other techniques too. While thinking about this change one thing I just couldn’t feel right about was abandoning my cookie mission. If you’re a regular here, you’ll know that I’m not naturally gifted at cookie icing so I’ve been trying to come up with some new techniques to get the great results I keep seeing everywhere. Rather than stop this, I'm gonna slip some in whenever it tickles my fancy, keep your eyes peeled!
Ok, the cake…
What You'll Need
7 cups of frosting (1 part butter:2 parts icing sugar)
1 ½ cups rice krispies
Food colouring – pink, purple, blue and green
1 tablespoon of clear alcohol (vodka or gin)
Edible silver spray (optional)
5 cake dowels
Make 4 sponges in 8-inch cake pans (full recipe) and 4 in flat baking trays (half recipe each tray). Wrap everything in cling film and place in the freezer until tomorrow.
Melt 50g of chocolate in a large bowl over a bain-marie. When it’s melted, mix in the rice krispies until they’re fully coated. I used white chocolate but only because that’s what was in my cupboard, it won’t show through when you cover it later. Remove the bowl of krispie treats from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. You can substitute chocolate for marshmallow to make the tail lighter but for me, I wanted a bit more stability.
While it’s cooling, sketch the tail on parchment paper. Keep in mind that it will get slightly bigger when it’s coated in fondant.
Cover this outline with the rice krispie mix, building up in layers. Between the layers place 2 cake dowels, these will attach the tail to the cake. As you can see in the picture, I used barbeque skewers but I would recommend switching to dowels for more support. To shape the kripsies into a 3D tail, wet your fingers slightly with cool water, this will allow you to touch the melted chocolate mix without it sticking to you. When you’re happy with the shape, place it in the fridge to cool for 10 minutes.
As you wait, melt the remaining chocolate over a bain-marie. After 10 minutes, spoon this melted chocolate over your tail, focusing on any areas that appear loose. The extra chocolate serves as somewhat an edible cement, making sure that it won’t come apart later. Return to the fridge.
Colour 1/3 of the fondant green. I left the colouring slightly marbled because I felt like it gave it a little more depth. When you’re happy with the colour, roll it out to 1/3 cm thick. Remove the tail from the fridge and coat the back lightly with a layer of frosting, place on top of the green fondant and using a knife, trim the fondant to 1 cm larger than the tail, all the way around. Wet the edge and press gently into the tail, pulling the fondant up to attach to the sides.
Roll out the green fondant again and use this to cover the top of the tail in the same way. When it’s attached pinch slightly to create a rise at the outer edges of the tail. Then, using the blunt edge of a knife, create little scores moving from the ends to the centre. Put to one side.
You should have leftover green fondant from the tail, colour this to a darker shade of green and cover with cling film for later. Split the remaining fondant into 2 equal parts. Colour one pink and one purple. Again, I kept the colouring marbled rather than smooth. All this fondant will be cut into discs roughly 1-inch in diameter. I used the cap from my silver spray but if you have a look around your kitchen I’m positive you’ll find something suitable. Before you rush to roll and cut, let's do it in small batches of 10 at a time so that the fondant doesn’t dry out before we use it. The shape of the cake has a lot of curves so we want to be able to really mould the fondant around it.
Break off a small piece each of pink and purple fondant and a tiny ball of green. Roughly mix a small ball of the green into both the pink and purple until the green is marbled through. Roll out to ¼ cm thickness and cut into 10 discs each of purple and pink. Lay these out in a triangle, overlapping the layers as so.
You can see from mine that I messed this part up, I didn’t account for the direction of the scales on the cake. To make yours spot on (haha, get it), I recommend building your triangle from the point out to the flat base. When you reach a size to fit neatly into the tail, trim the sides and attach to the tail with a little frosting.
Roll strips of green fondant and attach to the edges of the triangle, flattening down with the end of a spoon. These can be attached simply by wetting the fondant as it should all still be rather soft. I keep a set of paintbrushes that are solely for food and use these to brush on a little vodka each time. Roll out further strips of dark green and attach them along the tail, sweeping from the end in towards the triangle of scales. Finally, attach another 2 strips of green to the edges of the triangle to hide the joins.
Lastly for this evening, use a mix of alcohol and green food colouring to add shading to the tail, just like you can see in the picture below. Leave everything to dry over-night, preferably somewhere dry and warm.
Remove the sponge from the freezer at least 2-3 hours before you start frosting. Cut the flat sponges into circles that decrease in size by 1 inch each time; 7, 6, 5, 4.
Build the cake from the bottom, using a spoonful of frosting to attach it to the cake board or stand. Use a layer of frosting between each sponge to secure them, building from the largest to the smallest, one on top of the other. The eagle-eyed amongst you might have noticed jam in my layers. This is a habit of mine but for this cake, I would say skip it, jam is kinda loose, it’s added instability you don’t need. Insert 2 dowels, equal distance apart from the top to the bottom, again reference the tail, you want these dowels to compliment the two in the tail, not block them. Place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes.
Remove from the fridge and carefully carve the sponge into shape. Keep referencing back to the fondant tail, you don’t want to carve the top any smaller than the base of the tail. Coat the entire cake in a layer of frosting, smooth all round and return to the fridge for 30 minutes. When chilled, slot the fondant tail on top. Slide another dowel right behind the tail for added support. Cover the top with a piece of dark green fondant, securing with a little water. Return to the fridge.
The next stage is crazy easy but seriously time consuming. In batches of roughly 10 each, cut discs in both pink and purple, same size as before. Cover the uncut fondant in film any time you’re not using it. Attach the discs to the cake in a tile pattern starting from the top, circling around to the bottom, alternating colours. Use a little vodka on the back of the discs to help them stick. I found the easiest method was to wash my arms thoroughly and line the discs all the way up the left arm, face down. Using a clean, food only, paintbrush, I brushed a little vodka onto the back of each and then attached them to the cake. Keep going until you reach the bottom 2 sponges, these don’t need to be covered because they will serve as the waves. Return to the fridge.
Use the painting technique from earlier to paint the sides into more of a pointed shape like this...
Colour the remaining frosting pale blue. Coat the bottom 2 sponges with pale blue frosting and then use the end of a spoon to ‘brush’ it upwards, creating a wave texture. Colour the remaining frosting darker blue and repeat the spoon trick to add this on top of the pale blue. Use the end of your spoon to apply blue food colouring, neat, on to the very bottom of the cake, sweeping up to make waves. Finally, spray lightly with edible, metallic, silver shimmer.
And… you’re done! Congratulations! I would recommend storing in the fridge until the big unveil and make sure to give yourself a pat on the back, you’ve earned it.