Last week I had a reader asking if I had ever made a dinosaur cake and if I had any advice on how to approach one. It took me back to one of the very first large cakes I ever made. Now I know that I keep saying that “this was one of the first cakes that I made” but this really was! I checked the date and I made it in September 2009!
It was back when Tim suggested that I offer to make cakes for any birthday parties the girls were invited to. I didn’t really plan my cakes back then. I just baked and hacked them into shape. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes Dinosaurs had wonky mouths! Up until this point all the cakes I had made were pretty small. This one just grew and grew, but it is a dinosaur so it should be pretty big! Don’t you think?
I decided that the easiest way to get the shape and have lots of cake to eat would be to have the dino lying down. I made the red spines and left them to dry over night. After shaping the Stegosaurus (just in case you can’t tell that’s what it is!) and covering him in green sugarpaste I tried to attach the spines. They just wouldn’t stick in place. So I had to use tons more royal icing than I had planned just to get them to stick and stay upright. In the end I used long pieces of scrunched up cling film to position the spines and keep them in place while the royal icing dried. I taped the cling film to the table at each end and left it to dry over night. When I lifted the film out of place I held my breath. It worked. Phfew!
All that green royal icing kind of spoilt the look, so I used a cake decorating paint brush and brown food colour to draw on scales all over the beast. This gave him a more rugged look. Then all I had to do was add his eyes and mouth.
When it came to the cake board I wanted him to be sitting in a kind of forresty nest, so I cut up some ivy leaves in sugarpaste with plunger cutters in two or three different shades of green and laid them so it looked like they were sticking out from underneath him.
It’s funny when you look back at cakes you made at the beginning of your learning. I see lots of things I would do differently now. But, that’s hindsight and a whole lot more experience for you isn’t it?