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Make a Display Cake!


When I first began my cake business I made my very first display cakes out of real cake.  A total of 6 two tiered and one 3 tiered real decorated cakes for the Cal Expo show!  At the time it seemed like the easiest solution as I was not comfortable (at all) with making a non-edible display cake.  One of my biggest concerns is that Styrofoam cakes are very light and I cringed at the thought of fighting the cake to stay still as I worked to decorate it.


As time has gone on there have been a number of occasions such as shows during a busy week and photo shoots that I was forced to deal with that issue.  I absolutely had to make a non-edible display cake.  So I talked with Janis at Every Baking Moment who is a wealth of knowledge and seller of all-size Styrofoam cakes.  I incorporated her input of adding hardware to the foam cake from underneath to add weight.


So read on and check out this simple step by step method for creating your very own Styrofoam display tiered cake.




Cake foams

Matching cake carboards

Wood screws with a flat head and 2-3 inches long

Philips screwdriver or drill (I love my impact driver shown here)

Desired decorating materials



Step 1

Take each Styrofoam cake tier and matching cardboard and screw in wood screws using your screwdriver, drill, or impact.  I like to space them out evenly around the perimeter and one in the center.  It's really not for stability but more than anything for weight.  Also be careful not to push too hard as it will tear right through the Styrofoam rather than grip it, but of course it's not a big deal if you do either.  Repeat for each Styrofoam tier you are planning

015.JPGStep 2

Prepare each tier with base decor.  I love to used fondant here (I have yet to make a smooth buttercream version!).  Cover each cake as you normally would a regular cake with fondant.  I have found covering the tier with shortening is a nice way to adhere the fondant to the foam.  Stack all fondant covered Styrofoam cake tiers using water or piping gel.  I like to use water brushed onto the cardboard from the tier above.  The tier will be 'adjustable' for about 5 minutes and after a while the fondant tier will adhere completely.  I did make a rosette display cake and to stack those tiers I inserted small nails head down on the bottom tier and pushed the tier above it onto the protruding nails (and I didn't use a cardboard with that one either since this style was decorated as it was being stacked).


Step 3

Once cakes are covered and stacked finish it with the detailed decor








 Step 4

And after (hopefully not too many hours later) decorating you are done!




Comments (11)

beautiful cake, you have a nice style. I had been wondering how one would give weight to Styrofoam. Good photo tutorial
There is a product for decorating dummy cakes thats not edible or perishable' but "lasts forever". It sells for $75 for a container that replicates about 5 pounds fondant coverage, and is applied with a spatula like buttercream. I got some & found out it was basically drywall spackling with some fragrance in it!! So next time around I bought an equivalent quantity of spackling for about $10, and added buttervanilla extract; it smelled great.  I covered my foam dummy with press & seal type plastic wrap, and iced the spackling over as I would with buttercream. Once dry, I could sand to refine the finish, and I could slide the shell off the dummy & use it to make other shells/ designs. The spackling also piped borders just like BC. I used polymer clay to adhere the foam dummies to cake boards, and then to a lazy susan, insuring there was no slipping around when decorating.  This method is fast, economical, and lasts forever; and these light cakes travel very well, and have held up for 6 years in a humid Florida garage. 
There is a product for coating display cakes that will never spoil; can't recall the name but it sold for $75. I bought some & found out it was basically drywall spackling w/ some fragrance. Next time I covered my foam dummy cakes with a press & seal type plastic wrap, and coated them with plain old hardware store spackling. Once dry, I could slide the whole "shell" off the foam dummy cake, and make numerous other finishes on same dummy if desired. I could also sand to refine the finish. The spackling piped beautifully, and has held up in my humid Florida garage for 6 years. The spackling cost was less than $20. I used polymer clay to adhere the dummy to the lazy susan while decorating, so there was no problem with them sliding. 
Ok so after u use the cake display, can you take the fondant off and reuse the same dummy cake for a different design, or is it just one use, because that would be very expensive, to me. Thanks.
That looks beautiful. Great style.
Great ideas!!! Thank you for sharing Vegagirl and Shasha!!!
I never thought of spackling  for the cake dummies..interesting idea. But wouldn't it crack after time?? Maybe it would be wise to use a water soluble varnish afterwards???
Thanks for the tutorial it help a lot.
anyone ever use like self drying clay to cover a dummy cake instead of real fondant? my question because I live in florida were bugs are every where. If i cover a dummy cake in fondant and just leave it out Im asking to attract bugs to my home. 
How long can you keep these cakes without the fondant going mucky if no buttercream is used?
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