For those following along, at this point in the Pitfall: The Lost Expedition cake process, I had fondant pieces, I had rectangular baked cakes, and I had some cardboard and a brick-wall-looking stand. Now, on the night before the party, was the time to start putting it all together.
Step 1 – cover the cardboard cutouts with tinfoil to use as makeshift cake boards.
Step 2 – Confirm plan. At this point I got a piece of paper and made a note of the order in which I had to do each step, because if I’d gone out of order (like sticking the waterfall down on the top tier before icing the bottom, for example) I’d make things harder on myself than they’d need to be.
Step 3 – carve the cakes. I always use my largest unserrated knife for this, and have a large tupperware or two nearby for collecting the leftover cake (after being leveled or sculpted).
For the top cake, which would become the top of the waterfall, I didn’t level it. My cake had baked up much thicker in the center, but in a large enough area that I could cut a thicker cake in the shape I needed. If I’d leveled it first to the height of the outer edges I’d have had a much shorter cake for no reason. If the cake had been wide enough to cut my oval twice and stack them, I’d have done it, but it wasn’t big enough. I cut the cake from the thickest part and used some icing to ‘glue’ it down to the cake board, then set it aside.
For the lower cake I used the cardboard to carve out the right shape so I could butt the cake right up against the stand. After making sure it fit, I set that one aside as well.
Step 4 – Solidify base. I had my cake boards, 2 of them ‘glued’ together with icing. I needed to attach my base somehow because otherwise the moment I’d try to transport the thing it would tip backwards, being so heavy, and separate from the cake which would be stuck to the board. I stared at it a little while, wishing I had thought to Dremel 2 holes in the base BEFORE decorating, so I could quickly zip-tie it together, when I got an idea. The base sat a few mm above my cake boards (less than 1/4″). I couldn’t use glue or tape because I didn’t have any thick enough, but I did have fondant, and I knew that could dry pretty hard. First I traced the shape of the stand onto the silvered board. I took a few gobs (technical term) of white fondant and moistened them slightly so they’d be sticky all around, and pressed them down around inside the base’s outline. I quickly put the base in position and pressed down on the lowest tier, using a knife handle to get into the back, and really squish the fondant and board and base together. I waited a minute or two then tried to lift the base by the top tier… and the entire board lifted. Success!
(Around this time I’d also cut open and re-taped a cardboard box, as seen above, for transport. It was open at the front but had a closed back so I could carry the cake by supporting the back of the box instead of touching the stand itself when I moved it.
Step 5 – After making sure the base was well-stuck to the cake boards I cut a strip of plastic from my baggie the width of the waterfall I wanted, and used packing tape to tape it down to the bottom of the lower tier. I used a few smears of vanilla icing to glue my cake board down over it, sticking it well to the stand. I didn’t want it able to move at all.
Step 6 – I crumbled some of the leftover cake and mixed it into store-bought chocolate icing to make a rough, earthy-texture, and used that to coat the cake board for the cave floor.
Then I set the healing spring into place. I didn’t bother using anything to stick it down, the icing floor was still wet and the spring was heavy enough that I knew it wasn’t going to move.
Step 7 – Then I taped the waterfall up and into place with more packing tape, making sure it was secure. I knew there’d be a cake sitting on top of it, but still…
Step 8 – At this point I set the cakes into place. I put the lower cake down first, using icing to glue it in place. I protected the cake board with strips of parchment paper, then set the top cake down with some icing too. Putting the parchment around the back and under the front (on either side of the waterfall) was a bit trickier, but I used the tip of a knife to ease the cake forward or up and wiggled the parchment strips into place. Then I gave everything a dirty ice (crumb coat) with vanilla storebought icing.
I just realized the pics are out of order, and that I’d crumb coated the base before adding the top. Ah well.
Oh- I included the waterfall in the crumb coat on purpose. I knew it would later be mostly covered with blue icing, but I wanted there to be some depth to the water so it would look like it was moving. I also gave it a deliberate thick, choppy layer at the base where it reached the cake (as seen in the last pic). Waterfalls often have a churning, frothy spray at the base and this would help imply that.
Up next – the fun/scary part… decorating!
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