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Museum Blog

Making a Pennywise Cake
with Karli, MAG Marketing Associate

Spooky cake, perfect for Halloween!

For the month of October I decided to set up some personal challenges and goals that were creative. One of those goals was to try cake carving! If you're like me you probably have a pinterest board full of recipes and a YouTube playlist full of random tutorials. I was binging a bunch of Halloween themed cake decorating tutorials and compilations when I came across a PennyWise one from my favourite cake decorator Sideserf Cake Studio! Sideserf always gives great tips in her demos and tutorials so after watching the video a zillion times I decided that would be the cake I would attempt to carve.

Now let's establish that I am a home baker (who still always needs a recipe) and I have never carved cake before, worked with modelling chocolate, nor sculpted anything (unless you count a horrendous attempt at a bust of "The Girl with Pearl Earing" in high school art class - it was well, a bust).

First thing I did was find a reference image and trace it onto parchment paper. This way I will have the proportions fairly accurate and will know where to make my cuts.

I made a confetti cake from a box and added more ingredients to it to make a more dense cake so it could more easily be carved and stacked. I then cut the face part of the template out and used it as my guide to cut the head shape out first. I then used a second layer of cake to cut the hair out. Since the cake wasn't large enough to cut out the hair piece as a whole I just cut half of it first and then moved the template around to another area of cake to cut the other half. I then added a layer of buttercream for me to add a second layer of cake for the more prominent forehead that Pennywise has.

The recipe I used to enhance the box cake can be found here.

Then I started to carve away some of the features such as a deep groove for the eyes, shaved the chin away and cut for the mouth. I carved a slight angle to shape the outer edge of the face up to the cheeks. Then I added a thin layer of buttercream (I used this american buttercream recipe) for the crumb coat in order to hold everything together and have a base for my modelling chocolate to stick to. He almost looks grinch like with that shade of green. Perhaps I will do a Grinch cake in December!

I looked up how to roll out modelling chocolate as I had never done it before. I kneaded it in my hands first taking a portion that was about the size of my fist, then added more until I though I had enough to cover the entire cake. Stretching and kneading the chocolate until it's smooth and easy to roll out. I spread some cornstarch out on the counter and proceeded to roll out the modelling chocolate just like fondant or dough, until it was about half a centimeter thick. Then I placed the entire sheet of chocolate over the cake and started to smooth it out while pressing into the pre-cut grooves. I cut away excess around the bottom of the cake.

I had the SideSerf tutorial at the ready and keep pausing and rewinding portions of the tutorial to see how the features were shaped..

Using a clay modelling tool set that I had bought specifically for food use only I started to shape the features. I ended up using various sizes of tools that had metal ball shapes on the ends, a fondant stick to press in lines and grooves, and a thin edged stick for fine features and to smooth the edges of the chocolate. I added small almond shaped chocolate pieces for the eyes and then smoothed the chocolate down. I added a few small rolls of chocolate for the pronounced eyebrow ridge and shaped it like my reference photo.I cut into the pronounced brows with the thin modelling tool to create a deep groove to colour later. I added thin strips under the eyes for the lower lids and then continued to play around with lines and shapes and smoothing until I got to a point I was happy. I had to add cohcolate for the lips, and also little balls for the teeth that I then inserted into the mouth and flattened. I rolled a few flat pieces of choclate for the neck ruffles, using a second smaller layer on top to create the layers of fabric. Using the smooth stick I lifted the edges a bit all around and pinched the chocolate to create the ruffles effect. I also rolled out some more chocolate for the ears, which I almost forgot about. Next I added a base layer of grey food colouring (mix of black and white food colours to make the shade of grey I wanted).

After brushing a layer of grey food colouring mixed with a bit of vodka to create a watercolour type paint (don't worry the vodka will evaporate) over the entire cake I dabbed away excess colour to show more the white chocolate underneath. Since Pennywise has clown makeup I wanted more of the white colour to show through.I used varying shades of grey, some darker and some lighter, to create the shadows around the eyes and other features. It's very like an acrylic painting process. Build the layers of shadows with greys.

I tried to make the yes a golden colour and tried out various shaes of orange mixed with brown, white and yellow. I decided to use black to line the irises because I wanted them to pop, almost cartoonish. I used the same colour to stain the teeth slightly. I used red for the lips and nose and filled those areas in. Unfortunately it was taking some time for the reds to dry so I constantly moved around on features colouring in everything, coming back to the lips and nose from time to time. I added powdered sugar onto the skin, a tip menioned in the SideSerf Tutorial, brushing it over the face and removing excess powder. This created the perfect caked clown makeup effect. As you can see I used a mix of orange colouring to paint the hair filling in the deep crevices with darker orange for contrast and depth.

For the final touch I painted the thin red lines over the cheeks and above the eyes. I tried to be as steady as possible but I didn't have a very thin brush so it's not as fine tipped on the ends as I would have preferred. Still looks good though!

After 5.5 hours of cake carving and decorating I decided it was time to finish. I could have gone on tweaking but it was almost midnight and I was happy with where the cake was at. Photo op time!

I brought in my Pennywise cake to share with staff, along with some other spooky treats I created. Everyone was terrified and awed at the sight of the cake. It tasted good too!

Make American Buttercream with this recipe from Handle The Heat. Elevate your box cake mix with this recipe from Liv For Cake. Pennywise Cake tutorial from Sideserf Cake Studio here


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