Two 9” (23 cm) or 10” (25 cm) cake pans
Any cake batter, enough for two 9” (23 cm) or 10” (25 cm) pans
Wilton Sports Ball Cake Pan Set
Pound cake batter (any recipe or even the box mix kind will work)
Two round cake boards ((cardboard circles), one 12” (30 cm) and one 6” (15 cm))
Buttercream frosting to frost cakes
A small amount of Royal icing
Gel Paste food colors (black, orange, green)
Petal Dust powdered food colors (orange, green)
Spray food coloring (orange, green)
Wilton Ribbon Cutter and Embosser Set
Wilton Confectionery Tool Set
Clay extruder (like the kind used for polymer clay, but never used with polymer clay)
Dowel support rods or large lollypop sticks
New unused paint brushes
Note From the Author
It really doesn't make any difference what kind of cake you use. Boxed cake mixes will work for this just as well as scratch cakes as long as they are a firm cake. They can be any flavor you'd like.
For this project, the author used a boxed mix spice cake with some pumpkin purée (about a 1/2 cup or 125 ml) and extra spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove and ginger) added to it. She didn't measure, and simply eyeballed it. The author didn't have the time to make it from scratch that day so she simply doctored up a mix. It was very, very moist.
Just go easy on the clove and ginger. They can over power the flavor of the pumpkin. A 1/4 teaspoon (1 ml) is all you need of those. You can use more of the cinnamon, if you like it.
The frosting is a cream cheese frosting the author got from the Wilton books. Even though she normally doesn't use this to make highly decorated cakes (it is soft and can be harder to work with), it is a good complement to the pumpkin spice cake and she was not using it to do elaborate piping work.
Start off by making the marzipan pumpkins. Tint the marzipan with gel paste food color. The liquid kind you get at the grocery store is too thin and will make the marzipan too sticky to work with. You can find the gel past food coloring at most craft stores in the cake decorating section or at cake decorating supply places online.
To make the pumpkin, grease your hands with vegetable shortening and roll some orange tinted marzipan into a small ball. Use a round toothpick to make indentations into the sides of the pumpkins. Then dust them with some orange and green petal dust (a powdered food coloring) and re-roll the sides of the pumpkin to close up the indentations slightly, leaving a shadowed effect. Then using the confectionery tool called the umbrella (a sharpened dowel shape with a star shaped point), press the tip down into the top to make the shape of the top of a pumpkin. Then press the bud end of a dried clove into the hole to form the stem.
Some of the pumpkins can be short and round, others taller. Just vary the size and shapes of them the way real pumpkins look. Set them aside in a cool dry place out of direct sunlight. If you'd like them to dry, let them sit on a rack or baking sheet lined with parchment for a day or two. To keep them soft, store them in an airtight container until needed.
Start by making a 9” (23 cm) or 10” (25 cm) two layer cake of any kind you'd like, following the recipe or package directions. The author made a pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese buttercream frosting for this one. Level and frost the cake as usual placing it on a 12” (30 cm) foil coved cake board. Then pipe small round balls around the base of the cake and use green and orange spray food coloring around the bottom of the cake to add a bit of interest. Spray in a well ventilated area, and mask off anything you do not wish to get color on. It goes everywhere.
Bake in the two halves of the sports ball any pound cake recipe or boxed mix pound cake you like, and cool completely. Turn them over so that you have the rounded ends up and cut off a place to make the flat bottom of the cauldron on one of them, then frost it in buttercream. Do the same with the other half of the ball. For the side that will be the top of the cauldron, cover it with white fondant, by rolling out the fondant on a greased surface and then draping it over the ball cake half, smoothing it down around the sides. Trim off the excess. Turn it over and frost.
Place the bottom of the cauldron on top of the fondant coved top (it will be upside down now). Roll out chocolate fondant that is tinted with black gel paste food coloring the same way as before and cover the ball (upside down cauldron). Your cauldron will be upside-down now. Trim the excess black fondant away, leaving enough for the rim on the cauldron to flare out at the top when you turn it over. Keep it upside down for now.
Roll out more of the black chocolate fondant in a thin long strip. It should be long enough to wrap around the center of the cauldron. Measure the cake with a dress makers measuring tape if you're not sure how long that should be. For this one the author used a Wilton tool for fondant to make the indentations and to cut it out evenly. It's called the Ribbon Cutter and Embosser Set.
Then using a new clean paint brush, brush the back of the ribbon with a small amount of water and position the ribbon around the center of the cauldron. If you need to, use toothpicks to hold it in place temporarily until it dries or pipe a small amount of black royal icing on it as glue.
Make the side handles of the cauldron the same way as the trim around the middle. Cut them into shorter strips and fold into a loop pinched at one end. Attach them to the top of the cauldron (which is at the moment the bottom). To get them to hold their shape roll up a piece of paper towel and stuff it into the loop. Let this sit to dry for a while before you turn it over. It should not be hard, just firm enough to stay put. Toothpicks can be used to temporally hold it in place. Just remember to remove them before you display or serve it. Royal black royal icing can also be used like glue to hold them on.
Using a small round cake board (cardboard) covered with foil place a dab of royal icing in the center and position it on the center of the cauldron's bottom (which is at the moment still upside down) and flip the cake right side up onto the cake board. Make any adjustments to the rim of the cauldron that it needs. It should still be somewhat soft. Using a small round cutter mark the center of the top of the cauldron (the part with the white fondant) and cut out a small hole the size of your small cup. Frost the inside of the hole with buttercream and place the cup down inside the hole. This will be where you place the dry ice and water to make the smoke. It will need to be removed before it is served.
On the 9” (23 cm) or 10” (25 cm) bottom cake (not the cauldron) mark off an area the size of the cauldron's bottom and place 4 or 5 support dowels or lollypop sticks into the cake a few inches apart. Mark them where the top of the frosting hits them and trim the dowel to that mark. This will support the weight of the cauldron cake. Do not skip this step or your cauldron will sink into the bottom cake or it will fall off. This is how to make a tiered cake. The supports will be removed before serving.
Roll out green tinted marzipan on a vegetable shortening greased surface and cut out with a small leaf cutter. The vines are made by using a greased clay extruder fitted with a round disk with a small hole. You can find the extruder in the craft store in the polymer clay section. Do not use one if it has been used with polymer clay before. You need to have a new one just for food stuffs. If you don't want to get one of the extruders, you can just roll out the marzipan like a snake by hand. Grease your hands to keep the marzipan from sticking to you.
To make the handle of the cauldron use the clay extruder with a larger hole (this one was the shape of a pencil, six sided) and some of the black chocolate fondant. Press out a long rope of the fondant or roll out a long snake of it. Loop the ends through the side handles of the cauldron and pinch the ends to the rope to close the loop.
Putting the Cake Together
Add the pumpkins, leaves and vines to the cake. Then place the cauldron on top of the support dowels. If you are intending to travel somewhere with this cake, do not place the cauldron on top until you get to your destination.
Place small pieces of dry ice into the cup and add a small amount of hot water to it. It will bubble and splash a bit, but that is all part of the fun. When the smoke stops, use a turkey baster to suck up all the water and you can repeat the process to your hearts content. It is a lot of fun and the adults love it just as much as the kids.
Using dry ice is the only way to make the smoke and still have it be food safe.