A Grand Arabian Start to 2018

Happy New Year guys!! I hope you are all having a fabulous start to the new year and if you are still on holidays – lucky you!

I don’t actively take on client orders anymore but occasionally a past client will ask or a request comes by that is too exciting to pass up and this was one of them. I really enjoy a challenge and one of the things I miss most about client orders is getting to do something new each week. Unfortunately, one of the small downsides to teaching is that you tend to teach the same design again and again. And even while designing classes, you tend to be limited by the timeframe of the class and what the market currently wants to learn.

So when a client asked me to make an Arabian palace cake for her husband’s 50th, it was as much an indulgence as it was a challenge.

I always tell my students that the planning of any cake usually takes a long time and that is because I tend to draw out and measure my plans and then let it sit for a day so I can reevaluate it. Sometimes I come back the next day to move things around or have a light bulb moment overnight where I come up with a better way of doing things. So I usually don’t like to rush this part of the creative process.

Gathering all the materials and planning based on the inspiration image.

I made the cake to match the size of the display table. The client wanted it to be quite the centrepiece and since the party was at an event hall, I had to make sure the cake was big enough to stand out. The board was about 1m x 1m and I am guessing the whole project weighed about 25kgs+. And since it was going to be big, not all of it would be real cake. Or else there would just be WAY too much cake!

The initial planning of the cake layout. I used styrofoam to work out how everything will be sitting together and if the overall shape and size is good. A mixture of PVC piping and cardboard tubing was used for the skinny turrets. In hindsight I should have just used cardboard tubing for everything since they were way easier to cut!

I know at this point some of you will be questioning why I didn’t use other edible mediums like rice krispies to make the turrets or the top part of the turrets and here is the honest truth… While yes, it is nice to say that everything is edible, the reality of it is that:

  1. The guests are unlikely to eat the rice krispies. I don’t think a anyone wants a serving of rice krispies with their slice of cake, nor would they want a slice of rice krispies instead of cake.
  2. It is too time consuming – (This one here is more important to me) It would take far longer for me to make/shape the rice krispies than if I sourced and covered existing styrofoam shapes. The time I save here means that I can give the client a more competitive quote and/or spend the time on making the cake look more awesome. Personally to me, first impressions really matter.

Anyways, here are just some of the behind the scenes pictures of how this cake came together…

I use modelling chocolate to shape the peaks of the turrets. Someone online told me that they kind of look like boobs here! 😛
A strong secure structure is important here. I drilled holes into the MDF board below and these wooden dowels have been glued into the holes. These will be used to support the bottom cake as well as the three main turrets on top.
Because of the wooden dowels, this means that the cake boards also all need holes in them. There will be another board on top of this layer so the baking paper is there to prevent the board from sticking to the ganache.
Carving the top of the turret…
Once it’s all ganached, these cakes sit overnight in an air-conditioned room to firm up.
The bottom cake was a 14 inch square and when I work with big cakes, I tend to piece together smaller cakes (these are 7 inch square cakes) because they bake easier and more evenly. I also pieced together 7 inch cake boards because I didn’t have any 14 inch ones 😛
All the turrets covered with fondant…
A little airbrushing adds some colour and dimension 🙂
Then cut out windows and some additional trimming details are added.
I like using bubble tea straws for stacking my cakes because they are super easy to cut.

Urgh! Even with lots of planning sometimes things don’t quite work out! The top of the turrets are squished together and because they are all spiked on poles, it’s not that easy to adjust it 🙁 I had to remove the board at the bottom of one of the cakes and recut the hole.
Placing everything together to check that the whole cake looks right and nothing is mis-aligned or out of place…
The tops are then all painted with gold.
Then everything is attached together for real before I carve the foam core board.
Picture of me and the cake for size comparison 🙂


The finished cake! I am so pleased with how it turned out and that I got to start my year off with such a cool project. Also, I am slightly relieved that it barely just fit into the back of my car and travelled to the venue with no issues 🙂 Overall, the most time consuming part was really all the repetitive parts like the covering and detailing of the turrets and if I had more time I think I would have loved to have added a few cute little palm trees!

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