In my last post I shared my second Angry Birds cake, where Red was applied as a fondant topper (unlike the first one where the cake itself was carved and iced into his distinct shape). This style of fondant cake topper is one of my go-to methods of easy cake DIY. This demo is using Red as an example but you can use this method to create almost any basic character.
You’ll want to start by printing an image of your character to use as your template. I resize my image so it is scaled appropriately for my cake and then print it in grayscale to save on color ink. In this example I also included a mini version to use as a color reference.
Starting with my main color, which was red, I rolled out some white fondant I’d tinted with gel colors. The levels that come with my fondant rolling pin ensure that each piece will be the same thickness so in the final image every layer will have the same height and the silicon mat guarantees that the fondant won’t stick to my work surface. Tip: if you find your fondant mat slides around, dampen a few spots underneath with a bit of water and it will “stick” to your table or countertop. Make sure the piece you roll out is large enough for the area you want to cut out.
Lay your template directly onto the fondant. If your fondant is really sticky you can lightly grease the back of your paper with shortening but I always let my fondant rest for a few minutes to make it easier to cut, and so have never needed to do this. Trace the image by poking little dots at regular intervals right through the paper and into the fondant.
Note: you’ll need to take a moment and figure out if your finished piece will be flat or multilayered. For mine I decided that the face portion (eyebrows, eyes, and beak) and the red gem would be a raised layer, whereas the body, belly and crown would be the bottom layer. Finally, his pupils would be a third layer. You can see in the image above that I traced the red body right around the white belly, ignoring the beak. If you wanted to make only one layer you would have traced the red around the beak, eyes and brows.
You can use anything with a small, fine point for this step. I used the needle tool that came in my fondant/gum paste starter tool set but have also used sewing pins or the end of a clean paperclip.
Next, cut out your shape using the dotted line as a cutting guide. I used the knife blade that’s on the other side of my needle tool linked above, but you can use a regular kitchen knife.
Here you can see that the piece of fondant is exactly the same size as the template.
I like to transfer the fondant to a stiff transparent sheet before setting it aside. I’m a huge fan of flexible clear cutting boards like these and use them in almost every cake I make. They’re fantastic for toppers like these because you can lay your work in progress right over the template and repeatedly check that things are fitting as they should.
I repeated the same steps to cut the crown and beak out of yellow-tinted fondant, and then the eyes and belly out of white. The cut side edges of the fondant should be moist enough for it to stick together (like when insetting the crown, above) but if not you can lightly dampen them with a bit of water on a brush or cotton swab.
Repeat the process for all required pieces to make up your character. For King Red that meant the red body and gem, white belly and eyes, yellow crown and beak, black brows and pupils, and a maroon-ish inner beak area. I assembled each layer as I went, consistently checking that everything was aligning correctly by placing the clear board over my template.
Depending on your character you could be done at this point. To give mine a finished cartoon look and to fully match my sample image I used edible markers to outline the shapes and detail the crown.
My last step was to use leftover red fondant for the birthday boy’s name. I always make these toppers in advance and so was able to set them aside for a few days so they could air dry.
A great thing about using the pin technique (vs cutting up and tracing your template) is that the template is reusable. You can either re-dot in the same holes or simply press your paper onto the fondant and transfer the hole marks that are already there. Because I let my fondant set up slightly before piercing I had no transfer of fondant or tint onto my paper.
You now have a custom fondant topper ready to use for any decorative purpose! I like to prep a cake using my tutorial and then finish it with this style topper. You can also make mini versions for cupcakes using the same method.