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Custom Built Cake

Construct a worksite around a vibrantly decorated cake and an equally colorful crane created from a Choo Choo Train Pan cake. Beef up the birthday-boy connection with a piped-icing name and crane-operator face and Smiley Flames Chunky Candles.


Difficulty: Medium



Cake serves 18.


Custom Built Cake - Claw

Techniques Used


Step 1

In advance: Prepare crane claw and arm. Tint 4 oz. fondant black. Add 1/4 teaspoon Gum-Tex to 1 1/2 in. ball of fondant; roll out 3/8 in. thick. Use pattern to cut out claw; use wooden skewer to make a hole from top through bottom. Thread cord through hole, tie a knot at the bottom end and pull knot up to hole. Position candle in claw and shape to loosely hold head. Let dry on cornstarch-dusted surface at least 24 hours. Roll out remaining black fondant 1/8 in. thick. Cut a 3 x 7 in. rectangle; wrap around dowel rod, leaving 5 1/2 in. uncovered to insert into cake, and secure with damp brush. Carefully lift candle out of dried claw. Use tape to attach cord to wooden skewer, leaving claw and 2 1/2 in. of cord swinging free. Slide skewer into dowel rod and insert fondant in end to secure. Let dry. Also: Prepare tires. Tint candy black. Set donuts on Cooling Grid; cover with melted candy in cut disposable decorating bag. Let set.

Step 2

And: Prepare baseboards. Cover 8 in. cake circle, 5 1/4 x 8 in. cake board and craft block with Fanci-Foil. Use tape to secure craft block to center of rectangle to support crane cake.

Step 3

Bake and cool 1-layer round and 3-D train cake (use firm-textured batter, such as pound cake). Create crane shape by cutting smokestack and cap off train; trim back end level. Slice about 3/4 in. off front. Cut a square, approximately 3 1/2 in., from cake slice; attach to cab top to increase height. Position crane on cut-to-fit foil-covered cake board; use tape to secure that cake board to prepared craft block base. Ice cake side smooth, building up areas as needed to make flat surfaces. Ice cab window areas smooth; cover rest of crane with tip 17 stars.

Step 4

For boy, pipe tip 12 ball head (smooth with finger dipped in cornstarch), tip 8 arm/body; add tip 1 outline eyes and mouth, tip 2 swirl hair, dot nose and pull-out hands. Pipe tip 6 outline details on sides.

Step 5

For grill, pipe tip 8 vertical supports and tip 6 horizontal lines. Pipe large dot headlights using tip 12 and small lights using tip 8. Attach tires to sides with icing; pipe tip 6 V-shaped outline treads. Insert crane arm into cake at a 45º angle; slide candle into claw, secure with melted candy if needed. Position round cake on covered cake board; ice smooth. Use tip 17 to pipe shell top and rosette bottom border. Pipe tip 3 name; position sprinkle stars. Pipe tip 17 rosette candleholders; insert candles.

*Combine Lemon Yellow with Golden Yellow for yellow shown.