How Do I Structure A Handbag/purse Cake?

Decorating By megannell Updated 30 Jul 2009 , 9:17am by megannell

megannell Posted 13 Jul 2009 , 8:45am
post #1 of 14

Hi All

I am new to this forum and have been making cakes as a hobby for friends and family for around 4 years. The majority of these have been wedding cakes and I am much, much less experienced with novelty/shaped cakes.

I am in the process of making a rather ambitious (for me) 30th birthday cake for a friend in the shape of a Hermes Birkin Bag with gumpaste Manolos on the side. The Manolos are finished and have turned out well but I am a bit nervous about structuring and carving the bag. I am planning to use six layers of vanilla cake layered with buttercream and I am thinking it might be wise to dowel either the whole lot or dowel the first three layers then add a board then put the next three layers on top because I am petrified of the thought of it all just collapsing!

I would be really grateful for any advice anyone might have about how best to approach constructing the cake.

Thank you!!!!

Meg

13 replies
LillyLou Posted 13 Jul 2009 , 9:15am
post #2 of 14

Welcome to Cake Central. I've found this website extremely informative on cake and decorating problems.

I took the French purse class from Nicholas Lodge over a year ago but we made small purses out of a 9" square cake (we used a dummy in class but the real cake is made with the 9" cake). There was no need to dowel.

It sounds like you're making a life-size cake. I've seen where they make 3 layers doweled then top with a board and dowel the top 3 layers. If it's going to be a rather large cake, I'd also add at least 2 dowels through the whole cake to make it more secure.

I hope you will post a picture of the finished cake as it sounds like its going to be fabulous!

cylstrial Posted 13 Jul 2009 , 12:07pm
post #3 of 14

Lilly - I'm jealous that you took that class with Nicholas! =o) In a good way!
But thanks for the info on how to do the purse cake. One of these days I want to get around to making it!

megannell Posted 13 Jul 2009 , 1:26pm
post #4 of 14

Thanks so much LillyLou! I am going for life size so will dowel and board it. I will definitely post some pics (assuming it looks something like the cake I have in my head!)

LillyLou Posted 14 Jul 2009 , 7:08am
post #5 of 14

I loved taking the class with Nicholas. They make everything a breeze. If you get behind, they help you to catch up. If you need something, all you have to do is raise your hand and it's right to ya. They have thought out everything and try to anticipate your every need. I'm a former elementary school teacher and trainer of adults with the Florida Dept. of Revenue and I've never been to a class that was this well thought out. I couldn't think of a thing to change. I was really mentally tired when I got out of there but I learned sooooooo much!

megannell Posted 27 Jul 2009 , 4:35pm
post #6 of 14

Thanks for your help - it was successful in the end and held together perfectly. I have just added a photo.

kokopuff Posted 27 Jul 2009 , 5:41pm
post #7 of 14

It looks great! I have been wanting to do a purse cake myself but haven't had the chance yet,hopefulluy soon! Anyway I looked at all your photos and was wondering how did you make the sugar butterflies on your wedding cake?If you hadn't said they were sugar I would have assumed they were fondant.Very nice!

megannell Posted 28 Jul 2009 , 8:46am
post #8 of 14

Thanks kokopuff!! I called them sugar but should really have said Royal Icing to be precise.

They are run outs - not sure if that is a UK cake dec term. If not then apologies for spelling out the obvious but basically I printed off pictures of butterflies from Google and taped them to a cake board. I covered the whole thing in cellophane and piped round the outlines of the butterflies in royal icing using a No 1.5 piping tube. I then let down some more royal icing in ivory and pink with egg white and filled in the wings using the two colours to create patterns. Once the wings were dry I assembled the butterflies by piping a body with a No. 3 tube again onto cellophane and then stuck the wings in, propping them up with tiny balls of foil while they dried. Once they are dry you can slide a pallette knife under the body quite easily and attached the butterflies to the cake with more royal icing.

Hope that all makes sense!

kokopuff Posted 28 Jul 2009 , 5:45pm
post #9 of 14

Thanks! I have a wedding cake coming up next month and I will give them a try.

Peridot Posted 28 Jul 2009 , 7:23pm
post #10 of 14

Your purse is GREAT and so are the shoes! Can you please tell me how you did the shoes? They look like real (life sized) shoes - not the tiny mold kind.

And thanks for telling us how you did the butterflies. I also looked at your cakes and they are wonderful, beautiful fondant work.

megannell Posted 28 Jul 2009 , 8:44pm
post #11 of 14

Thanks so much Peridot!

The shoes are roughly life sized. I loosely followed the instructions on the SOCAKE blog (http://sandra-socake.blogspot.com/2007/05/instructions-for-my-gumpaste-shoe.html) but drew the templates to suit the style of shoe I wanted. A bit of it was playing by ear to be honest but I was really pleased with how they turned out in the end. I think that the key was allowing each stage to dry properly before moving onto the next. I made them over the course of a few evenings.

rosamatsas Posted 29 Jul 2009 , 10:52pm
post #12 of 14

Hi. First I'd like to say that your purse is fabulous. So are the shoes. They look so real. Can I pick your brain as to how you made the bag. How long did it take to make?
Did you stick to your 3-layer dowel, cakeboard, 3 layer dowel in the end?
You carved the cake to make the shape? Did you have any type of texturing on the bag? I'm so nervous i have the same bag to make , only red in color and i haveno clue how to start!
Any help would be much appreciated.
Regards.

rosamatsas Posted 29 Jul 2009 , 10:57pm
post #13 of 14

Hi. First I'd like to say that your purse is fabulous. So are the shoes. They look so real. Can I pick your brain as to how you made the bag. How long did it take to make?
Did you stick to your 3-layer dowel, cakeboard, 3 layer dowel in the end?
You carved the cake to make the shape? Did you have any type of texturing on the bag? I'm so nervous i have the same bag to make , only red in color and i haveno clue how to start!
Any help would be much appreciated.
Regards.

megannell Posted 30 Jul 2009 , 9:17am
post #14 of 14

Thanks rosamatsas!

I did stick to plan of dowelling the bottom three tiers then covering with a cake board and topping with the top three tiers. I used three 12" square, 2" deep cakes in total; the bottom two layers were 12" x 7", then two 12" x 6" in the middle and the top two were 12" x 5". I used foam board in the middle and cut it to 12" x 6" to fit between the middle tiers. I stacked the three bottom tiers on a 12" x 7" foam board, layering them with buttercream, then dowelled them and then I stacked and layered the top three tiers separately. I refrigerated the cake overnight before carving (sadly my freezer isn't big enough otherwise I would have frozen them).

I assembled the whole cake before carving and just went really slowly so as not to take off too much. I then crumb coated the whole thing in buttercream before covering in fondant.

I found a plastic texture mat online that leaves a chamois leather impression and used that to texture the fondant.

I thought the handles might be really tricky but I made them out of gumpaste a few days beforehand and they set rock hard. I attached them with a decent amount of royal icing and they stayed really solidly in place which was a relief.

In the end it wasn't as tricky as I feared it might be! I kept a picture of a real Birking Bag near me at all times and just added the details bit by bit.

Best of luck with yours - I am sure it will look great!! Do ask if you have any other questions.

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