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Game of Death Cake

Have you ever seen the movie Game of Death?

This award-winning horror movie came out in 2017 and featured a 90s-style game played by a gang of unassuming teens. Unlike Jumanji the consequences of playing this game are a LOT more gruesome and bloody. It also happened to be produced by one of my dear cousins, and he asked if I could make the cake for their wrap party.

This is the “Game of Death” gameboard as seen in the movie:

And this is my cake replica:

With Halloween just around the corner I thought it was the perfect time to share exactly how I made it!

The first step was to get a few good quality images of the prop that I could use for reference.

I was also asked if I could make a gluten-free option so there’d be something for those with intolerances. I was given a few reference images of the deaths and other props being used and when I saw that one character met an untimely end with a broken baseball bat I knew that would be something I could easily sculpt out of gluten-free puffed rice cereal.

While there were a lot of steps in making this cake it only took 3 days from start to finish. I’m going to break down everything but to avoid this being incredibly photo-heavy I’ve grouped the images of each step together.

The first step for all of my cakes is to sketch out an idea. Knowing I needed to transport the cake I went out and bought the largest cake board that would fit in a cake box I could find locally. That let me know what total dimensions I had to work with. That allowed me to size out my cake pans and figure out what would work best for the game cake. I then scaled a clear, top-down view of the game board to the appropriate size and traced it out so I could have an accurately-sized template.

I tried to do as much in advance as I could, as some of the parts would need time to dry or cool. The next task for day 1 was to make the gameboard’s window pane. I’d been asked to write a congratulatory message to the cast underneath, and while I could have simply written the image on a slab of fondant and set it in place I was determined to see if I could make the “glass” too. While browsing my local bulk store I noticed these clear candy mints and thought they’d be perfect!

I crushed the candies in a plastic bag using a meat mallet and then slowly melted the candy powder in the microwave until they reached a soft, pliable stage. Since I had a scale template I was able to test my cookie-cutters to find the right size and then trim off the excess with a kitchen knife. Once my “glass screen” was ready I set it aside to cool and harden.

Still on day 1 I rolled out some white fondant and made the center skull, all the minis, and the curved bits that line each player spot. I also cut out a base to put under the glass screen so I would have somewhere to write the message. Using a fondant roller and mat was really convenient as the roller has level guides so the pieces were all of equal thickness and the mat has measurements built right in.

I then made a large batch of gluten-free puffed rice treats and sculpted them into the two halves of a baseball bat, ensuring they would fit properly on my cake board. (Another benefit of having a scale template!).

The final thing I did on day 1 (not shown) was to bake the actual cake. I was given free reign on flavor and picked vanilla as it would work best with a special request I’d been asked – could I make the cake bleed when cut. I followed my usual methods and baked a bit of extra batter in a mini cake pan as I wanted to test the bleeding effect. I didn’t want to take a chance on the actual cake just in case it didn’t work so this little tester would be perfect.

Day 2 began with making edible fake blood. The best recipe I’ve found is to mix up chocolate syrup (like for chocolate milk) with clear corn syrup and a bit of red food coloring. Adjust the ratios until you get a consistency you like. In a subsequent cake I made a thicker version that is more realistic but for this cake I deliberately thinned it a touch so it would be able to be runny when cut.

I cut a well into my test cake’s bottom layer and iced it carefully so the “blood” wouldn’t soak into the cake itself. I then added the top layer and iced the whole thing and waited a few hours to be sure no red tint seeped through to the exterior. Then my kids helped me cut it and test if it worked:

It did! I was really excited knowing I could add additional wells into the real cake for an even more horrific effect.

I then painted the baseball bat treats with chocolate candy melts. Using a mug warmer was the perfect way to keep the candy warm long enough for me to get both pieces fully coated.

Then I wrapped each half with white fondant leaving the matching edges broken and torn to simulate where the wood would have splintered when the bat snapped in half. I used my fondant detail cutter to fray the edges further and add more realism, and then painted the fondant to look like wood. I’ve used this technique before and have a full tutorial on how to do it here.

With all the accessories and add-ons ready, day 3 was where it all came together!

I leveled my cake and torted it into 3 layers. These cake levelrs make it so easy to divide a cake into multiple levels evenly! The first layer was placed down on a round cake board and then iced, and the second layer was applied. I used a cupcake filler to cut a well in the center as well as add additional little surprise blood spots around the resulting ring. I was careful to not put them too close together so the cake would still have structural integrity, as I knew there would be a lot of fondant on top and I didn’t want it to collapse.

I also made sure to keep the cake bits from the corer as they’d come in handy in a minute.

I iced the middle layer, being careful to not disturb the cut edges too much while still evenly coating them in icing to provide a barrier between the blood fill and the cake itself. Then I carefully filled each well with the blood mixture leaving about a half-inch of space and then plugged the gaps with the cake pieces I’d saved. Finally, I iced the underside side of the remaining tier so when it was flipped onto the cake, the icing completely covered the plugs. This will prevent any of the blood from potentially bleeding into the upper tier.

Now that the cake was fully stacked I was able to use my scaled template to trim it to shape.

I then set the cake into place on the cake board, using a dollop of icing to “glue” it down. It was iced and then covered with gray fondant to match the game in the movie.

Then I used my template to cut out a slab of white fondant and used one of the fondant detail tools to trace each of the sections of the board, leaving imprints on the fondant that I could use as guides. I used edible food markers to color in each section, blending them with water when necessary to avoid too many streaks.

The topper was set into place and the edge trimmed with a border of white fondant. I “glued” each of the pre-made bits in place with a bit of water and then finally wrote the game’s logo on the front edge. (It went on all sides in the movie but I didn’t trust myself to write it evenly 8 times!)

The last step was to use a bit of watered-down fondant to “glue” the bats into place and then drizzle them with the fake blood mixture. I added in a few bits of fondant “gore” as an added touch. 😉

With that the Game of Death cake was complete! We delivered it to set on the final day and from the feedback I received it was a big hit!

(And it oozed “blood” perfectly when cut!)

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Ghost Cupcakes DIY

In today’s post I’m going to show you how to make these fast and easy ghost cupcakes, perfect for Hallowe’en!

The sweet treats can be prepped in advance and top homemade cupcakes or you can pick up store-bought cupcakes and throw the whole thing together last-minute.

I’d seen versions of this style topper on various sites around the internet and put mine together using the features I liked from various ones, plus added my own twist. These and these have fondant over marshmallows but I didn’t like the square look it gave the ghosts. These and these achieve a more rounded look by draping fondant over lollipops, but as my cupcakes were for a party for adults I didn’t think the lollipops would end up eaten. After browsing my local bulk shop I came up with the idea of topping the marshmallows with rounded gumdrop candies.

What you will need for the ghosts:

You can place each ghost in a treat bag and hand out as-is or use them to top homemade or store-bought cake or cupcakes.

Step 1: Assemble your marshmallows, gumdrops and sticks to prepare the ghost bases

Push the lollipop stick up through a marshmallow and halfway into a gumdrop. You can wet the top of the marshmallow first with a thin smear of icing, clear piping gel or light brush of water to help the marshmallow and gumdrop adhere together, however I found that the tackiness on the stick from being shoved through the marshmallow did not make this necessary.

Repeat until you have as many ghost bases as you need, then set them upright by pressing into foam, flower foam, egg cartons, etc…

Roll out your fondant and cut out a circle with your cutter. I topped each gumdrop with a small dollop of icing so the fondant would stick, but you can also use clear piping gel or water. Apply the fondant over the ghost base, centering the circle over the gumdrop and smooth into place. Use your fingers to crease the excess into ghostly folds. Note: don’t apply too much icing/water/gel or the fondant can thin and tear if it gets too wet.

Repeat for each ghost and set them aside in your chosen support so the fondant can set up a bit. If desired prep a cake or cupcakes to be ready for the toppers. I’d baked up some chocolate cupcakes and gave them a thin layer of vanilla icing.

Once the fondant is no longer pliable you can finish off your ghosties by adding black eyes with a black edible marker. You can play around with the eye shape to give them all unique expressions!

Repeat until all your ghosts can see and then set them into your cake/cupcakes (if using). If you are placing them into treat bags to give out as Hallowe’en favors, allow them to air-dry until the fondant sets up.

These were served along with the Paint Nite cake and cookies from my last post, and made for a really fun Hallowe’en party treat table!

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Paint Nite Cake and Cookies

A few years ago I made a dessert for my friend Debbie’s surprise Hallowe’en-themed party. I was given the option to make cookies or a cake, so I chose both! This Paint Nite-inspired cake and cookie set is easy to make and looks way harder than it is!

You can start with a store-bought cake, or bake one yourself and prepare it for decorating with a layer of fondant to look like a tablecloth. I used white so the rest would stand out but you could use any color.

To make the easels you will need narrow rectangular cookies. You can bake your own or go the faster route and buy them! I used Cadbury Fingers but any log or stick-shaped cookie will do. You will need candy melts as the “glue” to hold the easel together so just be sure to match the candy melt color to your chosen cookies. Note- you don’t want to use regular chocolate for this as it will soften at room temperature and your easels will fall apart.

First make an A shape with a cookie going horizontally across two others for the easel’s ledge, and then after the candy melts set up use a 4th cookie as the vertical support leg. It’s easy to work this assembly-line style, being sure to leave enough time for the chocolate to set hard. I found that I only had to hold them in place for about a minute before they were able to stand on their own.

Of course any Paint Nite needs something to paint on! You can bake cookies yourself or use any rectangular cookie that has at least one flat side, like Biscoff, butter biscuits or shortbreads.

To make edible “paint” mix icing sugar with small amounts of water until you get a loose icing consistency. Paint Nite projects often have a gradient background with a silhouette design on top, so I used that style for my mini paintings. I chose Fall colors with pumpkin orange and white for a sunset and as this was a Hallowe’en party I added a black cat on a fence silhouette and full moon. This also worked well with the Paint Nite habit of using few colors in beginner paintings.

I painted the cookies much as you would at an actual Paint Nite – first painting the gradient background, then once dry adding the top layer.

The fun part was making each one just slightly different, while still being the same image – exactly how the results at a true Paint Nite would be. Everyone follows the same process and comes out with mostly the same image yet they’re all slightly unique to the individual artists.

I also used a few extra cookies to write a message for the birthday girl on her big day.

Of course, every Paint Nite requires supplies, so we need to add the solo cups-as-water cups, Styrofoam plate “palettes” and big orange brushes.

I made all the accessories out of scraps of fondant. For the solo cups simply layer a thin strip of white on top of the red before cutting out a strip to roll into a cup shape. The brushes are narrow rolls of fondant with the brush end dipped into the icing “paint”. The plates are small discs of white fondant smeared with dollops of leftover paint from painting the cookies. To make the “dirty” paint water I swirled a bit of each paint icing into clear piping gel.

Staging the table was super fun! Unlike a real Paint Nite where I try to be as neat as possible, here I got to be messy! I “glued” the fondant accessories in place with a small dab of water and then added drips and splatters of the paint to really sell the “end of the night of crafting” look.

I was so thrilled with how the final cake came out! It was one of the most fun cakes to make and allows for a ton of personalization. All the components can be homemade or store-bought which means this design can work with all budgets, and you can tailor the paintings to match any theme.

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Iced Angry Birds Cake

Over the years I’ve made a couple Angry Birds-themed cakes. Two of them were for members of the same family, and even though they were made years apart I wanted them to each feel unique. For this first one I used minimal fondant and worked with an iced base.

Cakes like this are pretty easy to do, and while I don’t have full step-by-step pics I’ll outline the process.

The bottom layer was baked and prepared exactly as in my post on how to bake a cake and prepare it for decorating. I then decorated the sides with Smarties (M&Ms for my American readers) and set it aside.

The top layer also started as a 9″x13″ cake which was cut into the shape needed. As for most of my shaped cakes I started with a paper template scaled to the proper size on my computer.

The template serves two purposes. First I used it to trace out fondant pieces for the eyes, brows and beak. As I didn’t want to cut into the template I used a straight pin (that I keep for food use only) to pierce the shapes’ outlines into rolled fondant. The resulted dotted line is easy to cut out with a knife or fondant cutter and the individual pieces can be attached to each other with a bit of water or fondant glue. The eyebrows and pupils were cut from pre-tinted black fondant, the beak was cut from white fondant tinted yellow with icing gels, and the eyes were cut from white fondant later outlined with a black food marker. Before putting away my fondant supplies I also cut out the birthday boy’s name from red-tinted fondant with alphabet-shaped cookie cutters.

Then I used the same paper template on top of the cooled cake and cut around it to cut the cake itself to the proper shape. (You can do these steps in the reverse order but sometimes cake will stick to the underside of the paper and that can discolor your fondant. Another option is to trace the cake shape onto wax paper or parchment paper which won’t stick as easily)

The second cake was then iced with red and white icing to match Red’s proportions and finally the fondant topper was added.

The fondant pieces give the cake a polished look while requiring minimal shaping or sculpting ability, making this a great way for beginners to try out fondant for the first time.

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Super Smash Bros Ike Cake

Today’s the big day! Jakob is 15!! In honor, here’s the first of 2 cakes he got for his 9th birthday, back in 2016.

He asked for a “Super Smash Bros Brawl”-themed cake, specifically featuring Ike, a character from Nintendo’s Fire Emblem series.

This guy:

The first thing I did was isolate the logo:

Then I recreated it only now saying Happy Birthday Jakob.

This was done using my usual method of preparing the fondant cutouts in advance and then hand painting them with gel colors and vodka once they’d had a few days to harden.

I’m really happy with how he came out, even though his sword broke. The fondant wasn’t quite dry enough and the vodka didn’t evaporate fast enough so it cracked when I went to move it.

I was able to lay it together on the cake, however, so it wasn’t too big of a problem.

I prepared the cake with a really simple vanilla icing layer, in the exact manner I describe in my post on how to bake a cake and prepare it for decorating.

Considering the fondant pieces were done in advance, decorating cakes like this is really quick and easy to do. It was a big hit at his party- poor Ike never stood a chance!

Jakob’s other birthday cakes

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Adventure Time Cake

Jakob was obsessed with Adventure Time when his 6th birthday rolled around* so of course I HAD to make him an Adventure Time-themed birthday cake. (The obsession lasted so long that he had 2 Adventure Time cakes AND Gunter-themed cupcakes for his birthday the following year as well!)

Step 1 was to make a fondant BMO. Luckily I’d already made myself a plastic canvas BMO that I could use for easy reference.

BMO was made out of white fondant tinted with gel colors, and had long toothpick inserted underneath while the fondant cube was still soft. After letting the pieces harden for a few days I drew on them with edible markers for the finer details.

I made the fondant toppers by tinting small amounts of fondant into the appropriate colors then cutting out scaled paper templates of each character. I used a fondant knife to trace and cut the appropriate sections of each color then adhered them with water and a clean food-only paintbrush. The last step was to draw on any fine details with the food markers. I then repeated the same process for the logo/sword, substituting Jakob’s name for the word “TIME” in the title.

I baked, stacked and decorated a cake to look like a lovely day in the land of Ooo then applied all the toppers (except BMO) to the sides of the cake, using the moisture of the fresh icing to adhere them. The pieces were juuuust soft enough to form slightly to the cake’s curves so they wouldn’t pop off.

Because of the weight factor, I waited until just before serving to add BMO on top and insert the number candle.

The cake was a hit, and totally mathematical!

Jakob’s other birthday cakes

*There was no homemade cake for Jakob’s 5th birthday as it was included with the party experience.

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Pixar CARS Cake

In 2011 Jakob was all about Pixar’s CARS. CARS toys, CARS books, even CARS bedsheets. So when he turned 4 that year, of course I had to make a CARS-themed cake.

Like most of my cakes, this one started with a sketch.

It was box-mix vanilla cake with pudding and egg add-ins, and vanilla icing between the layers. Except for the LEGO Piston Cup and candle, all toppers were handmade with white fondant that I tinted with gel colors.

The silver logo around Jakob’s name was made from black-tinted fondant and painted with silver luster dust mixed with a bit of vodka.

The top and back have a black & white checkered race flag, and the base of the cake is trimmed with icing. I was still learning how to properly prep a cake for fondant and you can see how lumpy the cake is, especially where it is starting to sag in the back. There are also a few cracks in the fondant in places.

The side decors were fun to make! Sally was the easiest- mostly blue fondant with black wheels, a white windshield/eyes and handpainted details. Lightning McQueen and Mater were a bit more involved, having more details to copy. To fill in the sides I also added Lightning’s number and the Rust-eze logo. All painting was done with gel colors mixed with Wilton White-White to be more opaque.

It was one of the first “figure” cakes I’d made and a different challenge than others I’d done at that point. I’m really happy with how it turned out, and the birthday boy loved it.

Jakob’s other birthday cakes

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Scrabble Cake for National Scrabble Day

Today is National Scrabble Day! Occurring annually on April 13, Scrabble Day celebrates the birthday of Scrabble’s inventor Alfred Mosher Butts.

I’m still working through my backlog of cakes and projects I’d never posted, and today is the perfect day to share this Scrabble-themed cake I made all the way back in 2012.

Unfortunately I hadn’t taken progress pics so this isn’t an actual tutorial, though I can talk through the basics. The bottom tier was a chocolate round, with an 8″ vanilla (I think) on top. Both layers were covered with icing then white fondant I’d tinted with gel colors.

The Scrabble board and pieces were made from fondant a few days in advance so they’d have time to harden before application on the cake.

Once set, the tiles were lettered with a black edible marker. Larger tiles around the base spelled out DAUGHTER, SISTER, MOTHER and FRIEND, each with the applicable letter score.

The smaller tiles on the board write out the message for the birthday girl: HAPPY SIXTIETH BIRTHDAY ESTHER.

For the board itself, I’d lightly etched guidelines for the grid and then filled in the colored multiplier squares with more edible markers, before lining the whole grid with royal icing. I’m not thrilled with the lines themselves – I wish they were straighter, but I remember being too afraid to try and remove wonky areas to redo them and risk messing up the colors underneath.

For more Scrabble history, click here!

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How to make a Fortnite Loot Lake cube cake

Today’s Henri’s 13th birthday and we’ve made it to his big, first “double-digits” birthday cake. Not only was Fortnite massive at the end of 2018/early 2019, but the Loot Lake cube event had just taken place and when asked what theme he wanted for his cake that year, there was zero hesitation. Easy for him to decide, but I’ll admit it took me a moment to figure out how to put it into action!

In the end I went with a cake that represented Loot Lake with the cube starting to submerge, and one of the wooden panels with Henri’s name on it. If curious about the cubes, you can read up on them here. You can actually watch the cube hit and go under here.

At this point this should be really familiar reading, but once again a few days before his party I baked cakes and prepared them as per my usual method. I also prepared my fondant pieces so they would have time to harden.

For the wooden panel I printed out his name in the Fortnite font and cut a rectangle around it with my dull blade cutter, freehanding the perpendicular planks.

I also cut out 6 1-inch squares to use for the cube. The grid on my measuring mat was perfect for this!

…except that it was too annoying to assemble the panels into a cube so instead I squished them all back together with some extra fondant and cut a 1″ cube out of the larger chunk.

I used my adjustable circle cutter to cut out a disk of fondant the same diameter as the top of my cake. I’d link it but can’t find it for sale any longer. I wonder if that’s because it isn’t that great – and tends to leave unsightly divots in the center of your fondant (like in the above image). You can either freehand cut a circle using a mat with markings like mine, or trace around your cake pan or same-sized bowl and cut that out instead.

At this point I set aside all the fondant pieces to air-dry, turning a few times daily so all sides could dry well.

The night before the party I levelled, torted and crumb-coated the cake as per my tutorial linked above.

While the cake was chilling in the fridge I painted the nameplate with gel colors diluted in vodka, using a quick version of my painting fondant to look like wood tutorial (another version of the wood also found here). I also cut an angled slice off of the cube so it could sit flush against the top of the cake and still look submerged, and inserted a bamboo skewer to help it anchor to the cake later.

The cake got a clean layer of white icing and then the fondant disk was placed on top so it would adhere well.

I used the back of a food-only paintbrush to lightly score demarcation lines for where the cube’s magical effect would spread to, using the game screenshots as color and placement references. (Oh yeah- the cube is magical. It turned the lake bouncy). I also gathered my supplies for food painting: more gel colors in my required colors, white icing tint, sparkle gel, water with a syringe, my gel paint palette, toothpicks, food-only paintbrushes and icing sugar to be the base of my “paint”.

To create the lake I added blue gel colors to some icing sugar and used a syringe to add water until I got a consistency similar to paint. The syringe helps avoid adding too much water at a time, but if it does get too watery you can thicken it back up with more icing sugar. Once it looked right I painted the lake blue, stopping at the demarcation line and feathering slightly over the edge so it wouldn’t be sharp or precise.

I mixed up more of the same color but runnier (similar to flood consistency, if you decorate cakes) and applied it all over the same sections, allowing it to self-level. Then I left the cake to set for 15 minutes.

Next I mixed up more icing paint in white and light blue and put dabs of each in an alternating pattern around the inner circle’s edge before using a toothpick to swirl them together. It’s ok if the darker blue bleeds into them a bit, as this was meant to be the edge where the lake water meets the rubberized water and has the magic glow effect.

To add more magical “oomph” I added sparkle gel around the edge, overlapping into the darker blue. Then I set it aside for another 15 minutes.

For the center where the lake has already transformed, first I mixed up a medium purple shade with a lot of the sparkle gel mixed in, as well as a lighter purple and white with sparkle. I filled the center circle with the medium purple and while it was still wet I dripped in the two lighter colors and swirled them gently. Once I was happy with how it looked I set it aside for another 15 minutes.

I tinted some vanilla icing green for the grassy land around the lake and covered the sides of the cake, slightly overlapping the disk on top to hide the fondant edges. I then textured the top bit to look more like grass. You can pipe around the base of the cake if desired (I’d run out of icing, oops).

I mixed up a darker purple for the cube and a brighter pink to be the glowing light where the cube touched the water, and painted the cube itself. Allow to dry for 15 minutes by either holding it (and enjoying a little break!) or you can push the skewer into a scrap chunk of fondant or styrofoam.

Tip: Save a bit of the dark purple in case you need to touch up the cube after you stick it on the cake.

Even though my fondant was white to start, I decided to paint over Henri’s name with the Wilton White-White. It doesn’t show much in the pic, but in person it made it much brighter.

The last step is to push the skewer into the cake and then the Fortnite Loot Lake cube cake is done!

I’d used a bit too much water in one of my purples, so the next day you can see that it cratered a bit when it dried down. But I’m still super pleased with how it turned out! I love the glowy swirl where the lake meets the “magic” and it really does look like the cube is sinking into the water.

Plus Henri was really happy with it, which was the most important part! ❤

I’ve had questions before about whether fondant topper painting adds extra thickness to the top of a cake, and as you can see from the cross-section, it really doesn’t.

Henri’s other birthday cakes

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Neko Atsume Snowball Cake

A few years ago one of the games the kids were obsessed with was Neko Atsume. They loved collecting all the little cats and their toys and taking in-game Polaroids of the kitties doing cute things. Snowball was Henri’s favorite, and on his 9th birthday he asked for a Snowball pic cake.

First thing I did, as always, was to bake the cakes a few days before his party.

He couldn’t decide between cherry chip or vanilla cakes so I made one of each then set them aside to stay moist until time to decorate.

Next I made the fondant topper. Just as for the Tem Shop cake I like to make my fondant toppers in advance as well so they have time to harden and set before placing on the cake.

I’m a big proponent of using references, so once again I found a reference image and scaled it to my desired size. I couldn’t find one with the specific pose Henri wanted (Snowball holding the red ball) so I found separate references and combined them myself into one.

On the same day I baked the cakes I also rolled out some white fondant and cut it to the size of my Polaroid. I let it air dry until the night before the party, when I sat down to finish the cake.

I used a pin tool to lightly sketch the cat outline in place by tracing the Snowball cut out onto my fondant. Then I used edible ink markers to color in the image, finishing with black for the cartoon-look outline.

Using a reference image is a really great way to help get a result that you’re happy with!

I set the topper aside so the ink could dry and then it was time to focus on the cake! First step was to levelled and tort each cake, then stack them into place.

The trimmed bits of cake freeze really well for future snacking, or you can crumble them up and mix with your leftover icing to make cake pops (which also freeze well for future snacking!).

First the cake gets a crumb coat (above) and then later a second, clean layer of icing.

I applied the topper to the still-moist icing and then the cake was done!

The fondant topper doesn’t add too much extra thickness to the top of the cake and does not need to be removed for slicing. It’s also easily removable from the slice for anyone who doesn’t like the taste.

Henri’s other birthday cakes

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