For anyone who hasn’t seen Madagascar (the original movie), the title is a memorable quote from the truly adorable Melman.
For those who haven’t…I recommend. It’s actually a pretty adorable movie for what it is.
Anyway, as I’m sure you can guess by now, I recently had an opportunity to delve into making a cake based on a specific movie! One of my boyfriend’s coworkers (as a result of way too many baked goods being sent into work with the boyfriend) asked if I’d be willing to make a cake for his son’s birthday. To which I responded: why not?
Of course, when I found out the cake in question was supposed to be based on a specific movie, I couldn’t help but regret the decision to take the project on. I’d never made anything like it before and I’d certainly never crafted my own design for a cake from the ground up before – typically I find bits and pieces from other cakes on pinterest and sort of…mash them together until the cake has a vague plan and I can pretend I meant it to look like that in the first place).
Regardless, I took on the project and figured I could try some sculpting. I figured if it went horribly, terribly bad, I could always do a quick amazon search for some Madagascar toys to tack onto the cake. Kids like toys better anyway, right?
Now I’m the first to admit that the giraffe really doesn’t look much like Melman. Especially since I could not for the life of me figure out how to get Melman’s thin little giraffe legs to hold up the weight of his body so I settled for him laying down on the beach instead. But for a first crack at trying to sculpt, I’d say not too shabby. Even though he looked mostly like a camel before I painted him (my roommate decided he looked like a camel, not me.)
For anyone out there brave enough to try sculpting some critters, here’s some advice I learned the hard way:
1. Do not try sculpting with just fondant or just gumpaste. The two extremes are not ideal. The fondant takes way too long to dry and pieces like to bend and fall off because it has too much give to it. The gumpaste dries too quickly and starts to crumble if you’re still trying to work with it. I learned that when I was sculpting the zebra. His snout started to crumble and…it really just was not fun. Your best bet is to use a mix of the two to try to sculpt with. It’s just right in terms of sculpting.
2. Have a lot of wire, toothpicks, and dry spaghetti on hand. All of it comes in handy for trying to structure your creatures and keep them from falling apart. Toothpicks would’ve been ideal, but I didn’t have enough on hand so I had to settle for dry spaghetti. The spaghetti has a hard time keeping it’s shape, especially if you’re piling fondant/gumpaste on top of it. And it’s really frustrating when it snaps.
3. Markers!! When it comes to doing all of the little details like the giraffe’s spots or the zebra’s stripes, it really really helps to have some food markers on hand. They’re really easy to control and draw with and they definitely save your life a little bit when it comes to the tiny details. I was able to pick up a pack of five from Walmart for 5 bucks or so and it was totally worth it. Painting with food coloring would have been a nightmare!
4. Don’t get frustrated. Your character isn’t going to look very good halfway through. But that’s to be expected. If you quit when you’re halfway, you’ll never see how good he/she/it looks when it’s finished. Stick with it – I guarantee the creature’s going to look much better when you can slap on the tiny details that really pull a character together.