Hi Instructables, this was my first ever attempt at using fondant to decorate a cake - and boy was it fun!
I did this PJ Mask cake in tiers, for my son's 3rd birthday. To the uninitiated, this is a cartoon with 3 friends who become superheroes by night (in their PJs) - Gecko, Owlette and Catboy. And as it happens to be my son's absolute favourite show right now, we decided to throw a PJ Mask themed party for him.
I did some Google research and found loads of fondant PJ Mask cakes (see the 2nd and 3rd images), mostly variants of a night skyline and 2D images of the main characters. There's even an instructable that shows how to make 2D fondant faces of the PJ Masks characters by user midiansangel, that I used as reference. https://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-2D-Fondant-Ch...
Step 1: The Top Secret Superhero Plan
If you've seen my other work, you'd know that I'm more of a minimalist. So the images I found online of other cakes were all way over the top for me. Skyline plus stars plus faces plus name of the kid? That's way too much visual clutter on one cake!
So I grabbed my son's colour pencils and made a top secret superhero plan: I decided to level up the cake by having 3 small chocolate fudge layer cakes, one for each character. This way each cake was a nicely done sculpt of its own, with the masks in 3D, not just 2D cut-outs. And then I'd stack the Gecko cake on top of the others, for added height and drama!
3 small problems: I'd never made a fudge layer cake, never used fondant, and never stacked cakes before!
Step 2: Fondant Test
Well, since I'd never used fondant before, I bought a little tub of pre-made white fondant to do a test. I made 3 simple character masks as a test, and it was tricky!
I coloured small balls of white fondant with gel colouring, and kneaded them until the colour was consistent. Then I rolled these out with a rolling pin and cut out the mask shapes with a sharp knife.
Fondant gets sticky, so I found that you need to use baking paper and lots of cornflour to keep things from sticking. Flour the rolling pin and knife regularly. Also, fondant doesn't stick to plastic, so a plastic scraper is useful for lifting pieces of fondant off the paper, or to scrape sticky bits off the rolling pin or other surfaces.
I wasn't happy with these test masks, though. The colours weren't vibrant enough, and the lack of 'eyes' in the masks made them look rather hollow. Not quite right for a 3 year old's party.
Step 3: Colouring Fondant
In the end I decided to buy pre-coloured fondant in the 3 main colours: Red, Blue and Green. But I still had to mix my own colours for the flesh tones and other accent colours. Here's how to do it:
1. Use Gel colouring, not liquid colouring. Liquid colouring will make the fondant runny and sticky.
2. Use only a teeny tiny amount - I used the end of a toothpick to pick up some orange colouring and dabbed it onto the ball of white fondant. That was enough to make the skin tones seen in the next photo.
3. Wear gloves and knead until the colour is consistant.
Step 4: Making the Noses
My design only showed a tiny bit of nose and cheek below each mask. So I rolled out the skin coloured fondant and cut a small arc from each one to be the nose and cheeks.
I used a rolling pin to try and thin out the top edge of each arc, so that it doesn't form a bump when I layer on the mask.
The 3 noses of the characters are slightly different, so I made them accordingly. The top is Gecko, whose round nose is seen in front of the mask. The second is Catboy, whose round nose is under his mask. And third is Owlette, with a pointy beak-like nose.
Step 5: Make the Mask Strips
I wanted each mask to wrap around the circumference of my cakes, like a blindfold (like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' eye-mask). So I calculated the circumference of the cakes (3.14 x 6" diameter) and rolled out the fondant accordingly.
I used a plastic spatula to cut these into the right size: 20" long by 2" tall, with a bump in the middle where the main mask face would be. The plastic spatula was easier to cut with than a metal knife.
I then laid down this strip of coloured fondant over the nose and cheek piece and shaped it accordingly.
Repeat for all 3 masks.
I added a cross-hatch texture for Gecko with the same spatula edge, because his gecko outfit has the same scaly pattern. I also added the ears for Catboy, and the feathered edges of the mask (like a masquerade mask) for Owlette.
Step 6: Make the Eyes
I used some cookie cutters to cut out the eye shapes out of white fondant. These were a little small, but I just worked them between my fingers to stretch the pieces to the right shape and size.
For the irises and pupils: Make a small ball of fondant, then flatten it to become a flat circle.
The eyes are built up in layers: First the white, then a small circle of matching colour for the iris, then a smaller circle of black for the pupil. Finally, put in a tiny dot of white as a highlight at the top left or top right of the iris to really make the eyes come to life.
Step 7: Add More Details
Gecko has light green eyebrows and a mohawk 'fin' piece. I shaped the fin to be more 3D.
Catboy has light blue lightning stripes on his forehead and left and right.
Owlette has a lighter red highlight along the top edge of her owl mask, as well as black lashes.
Colours: To make the light green/blue/red, just mix the main colour with some white and knead until consistent.
To make the black, I mixed blue and red to make purple, then added some gel colouring to darken it further.
These masks were built on a cookie tray with baking paper. I then covered these 3 masks in cling wrap and stored the whole tray in the fridge overnight.
Step 8: Party Time! Wrap the Cake
For the last unknown: Fudge cake - I totally cheated here and bought 3 small 6" chocolate fudge cakes from my favourite cake shop. I could not have done as good a job. They were all different flavours too! Plain chocolate; choc-banana; and cherry blackforest.
At the party, I just unboxed each cake and wrapped the fondant mask around the perimeter of the cake. I joined the ends of the fondant together at the back. If need be use a little water to moisten the ends so that they stick better.
[Disclaimer: I found later on that fondant and fudge don't do so well together. The moisture from the fudge coat kinda caused the fondant to start 'melting'. Which is why most fondant cakes are cream based, not fudge! But we got through the party ok.]
Step 9: Stack the Cakes!
Now to take the cake to another level, literally!
I took some cues from various youtube videos about stacked cakes, and learned that cakes don't just sit on top of each other!
I wrapped a small jam jar in green fondant, and anchored that to the baking tray with fondant. This supports the back half of the Gecko cake.
I also cut 4 chopsticks to the same height as the baking tray, and inserted these into the red and blue cakes as shown, to support the front edges of the Gecko cake tier.
Then I carefully stacked the Gecko cake tier on top of the other two, held in place with blobs of fondant.
Finally I decorated the cake with some plastic figurines of the PJ Masks heroes and villains, and voila! The figurines didn't stand very well, so they too were given small bases made out of fondant.
Step 10: Cutting the Cake
My son loved this cake tremendously! The second the candle was blown out, all the other kids grabbed a figurine each from the top of the cake and started licking at the fondant bases of those figures. Gross.
All the kids were also clamouring to eat a piece of their favourite character, completely unfazed by the cannibalistic implications. Oh well. It was fun!
I hope this gives some inspiration to those parents crazy enough to attempt something like this. If I could do this on my first fondant attempt, then so can you!
Please vote for me in the Remix contest if you like this. :)