How Do I Make A Structured Cake? (Using Pvc)

Decorating By cloetzu Updated 18 Oct 2010 , 3:00pm by emrldsky

cloetzu Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 12:08pm
post #1 of 24

I'd like to try making a structured cake - i.e. something with height that needs an internal structure of wood and or PVC piping etc. I've never done it before and can't seem to find any information on doing it. Wondering if any one has any pictures showing how or knows of any videos anywhere?

I'm interested to find out where supplies usually come from, how they are prepared (washed prep'd etc) and then assembled. When I see cakes done on TV I don't usually see them doing anything to those pieces nore them adding anything 'between' the cake or cereal treats and the wood or pipe??? wouldn't you need to put something ?

I've read that many prefer modeling chocolate to cover the final structure over fondant/gumpaste... wondering why? and also where to get modeling chocolate? is it the same as chocolate wafers?

any and all information would be greatly appreciated!!

23 replies
deMuralist Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 12:20pm
post #2 of 24

I can't help with all the questions, but I can tell you that I make my modeling chocolate. Here is a link to a youtube of a wonderful artist making it and using it, she includes the recipe. Very easy to work with, although I would not personally try to cover a cake with it.

cloetzu Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 3:17pm
post #3 of 24

hmmm.. there is no link? would love to see it! icon_wink.gif

deMuralist Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 3:24pm
post #4 of 24

oops...


Stephy42088 Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 3:30pm
post #5 of 24

I'd like to know how they go about doing the structure as well, it seems difficult and something you really have to think out. And maybe even try a few times to get a feel for. As for the modeling chocolate, you can make it using chocolate candy melts or any kind of chocolate made for melting. Once it is melted you mix in light corn syrup (you will have to check on the measurements). When you stir it up it will come close to the consistency of fondant. The reason many people use it for structured cakes is because you can rub the seams together so they blend in, whereas with fondant you cannot. Modeling chocolate allows for more mistakes because its easier to fix when you can just add a new piece and rub it in, and no one will ever know!

weirkd Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 3:43pm
post #6 of 24

It is something that you have to think out. Each structure is unique, especially when you see them on tv in Challenges. They go to their local hardware store for parts. PVC piping that is covered in either plastic wrap or something that its not coming in direct contact with the cake. I am not sure what their called but they make these metal washer thingys that can you can screw to your wooden boards. Talk to someone in your hardware store or Home Depot type place and tell them what your plan on doing and ask for help. They can direct you in the right place and show you what you can use. Ofcourse you will probably get a weird look when you tell them cake, but they can help.
You can also go to Cal Java online and look at what they have. They have about three different structures created by Bronwen Weber for making 3d people. Their expensive though. But you can atleast get an idea of what it would intale.

madgeowens Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 3:43pm
post #7 of 24

I was told pvc is not food safe...some chemicals it gives off....

cloetzu Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 3:45pm
post #8 of 24

thank you very much for the information! I wish someone had an online video of the basics icon_smile.gif

cloetzu Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 3:48pm
post #9 of 24

went to cal java - can't find them ;( I mean the structures ;(

saberger Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 4:17pm
post #10 of 24

I have had to do a couple of cakes requiring 'structure' and had the same issues you did. I went to my local Home Depot and spoke with a guy in the PVC department. Turns out his folks are in the cake biz (or were) and was able to help quite a bit. I totally lucked out! Now having said that, I still had to figure out how to work with it, cut, and put it together. I think it might be easier to help if you were to share what you are trying to make. Structure for a person is different than that for a tree or something else. I believe that anything that is used for water pipes are considered food safe, but if you are concerned, you can wash it or/and you can wrap it in saran wrap and then use RKT (I saw Kate Sullivan do that for a dog cake).

Good Luck!

Joshua_Alan Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 4:17pm
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by weirkd

It is something that you have to think out. Each structure is unique, especially when you see them on tv in Challenges. They go to their local hardware store for parts. PVC piping that is covered in either plastic wrap or something that its not coming in direct contact with the cake. I am not sure what their called but they make these metal washer thingys that can you can screw to your wooden boards. Talk to someone in your hardware store or Home Depot type place and tell them what your plan on doing and ask for help. They can direct you in the right place and show you what you can use. Ofcourse you will probably get a weird look when you tell them cake, but they can help.
You can also go to Cal Java online and look at what they have. They have about three different structures created by Bronwen Weber for making 3d people. Their expensive though. But you can atleast get an idea of what it would intale.




I believe they're called flanges.[/b]

mayo2222 Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 4:29pm
post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshua_Alan

Quote:
Originally Posted by weirkd

It is something that you have to think out. Each structure is unique, especially when you see them on tv in Challenges. They go to their local hardware store for parts. PVC piping that is covered in either plastic wrap or something that its not coming in direct contact with the cake. I am not sure what their called but they make these metal washer thingys that can you can screw to your wooden boards. Talk to someone in your hardware store or Home Depot type place and tell them what your plan on doing and ask for help. They can direct you in the right place and show you what you can use. Ofcourse you will probably get a weird look when you tell them cake, but they can help.
You can also go to Cal Java online and look at what they have. They have about three different structures created by Bronwen Weber for making 3d people. Their expensive though. But you can atleast get an idea of what it would intale.



I believe they're called flanges.[/b]




You are correct, they are called flanges. You can also just use a wooden dowel and screw up from the bottom of the cake board (remember to use pilot holes)

cloetzu Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 7:05pm
post #13 of 24

What I'd like to do is a cartoon character for my daughter - so more like a standing person - not 100% sure yet on which one - it will depend on which is easier to do icon_wink.gif Choice is between Dora, Toopy (from Toopy and Binoo) or Ruby (from Ruby and Max)... or good old Elmo! Would like to do it for halloween so which ever one it is they will be wearing a witches hat icon_wink.gif

Wondering if someone could describe what the proper consistency of RCTs would be need to be if used and how much/which parts are best made using RCTs?

kkbritt8 Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 7:44pm
post #14 of 24

I made a giraffe (in my photos) using PVC pipes. It was very sturdy - so much so that I actually had to tilt it to get it into the back of my van and it held up fine (was 42 inches tall).

The best way to start your project is to draw what you are wanting to do. I am not an artist by any means, but this helps in figuring out the exact pieces you'll need. Once you have a rough sketch of the figure, then you'll be able to figure out the internal structure using straight lines and angled connectors .

You will need a floor flange for as many sections that connect to the board (on my giraffe I used 4 - one for each foot). I got them at the hardware store (they were a row over from the actual PVC pipes but I was able to get help to find what I needed very easily). Usually you'll only need one or two pieces of PVC. There are two types I was told. One is a little more expensive (not much) and that is used for water (I believe it had a bit of a green tint to it). Then using your sketch, figure out the angles you will need to achieve the structure. Just use your imagination. The connector pieces are so inexpensive I'd recommend getting a little of each for the first time. You'll also need pipe cutters.

Once I was all done, I did wrap all of the PVS with the sticky plastic wrap, covered in RKT (or cake on the back area) , chocolate ganache and then fondant. I used fondant because the modeling chocolate can get hard if chilled or melt if too warm. Neither are fun when you've spent so much time and energy on your cake. Hope this helps!!

hilly Posted 12 Oct 2010 , 9:42pm
post #15 of 24

I've heard some people use PVC as a rolling pin for fondant... Is there some PVC that's food safe and some that's not?

cloetzu Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 1:42am
post #16 of 24

kkbritt8 - your giraffe is awesome!!! Thanks for the explanation!!!

so the only place that had cake is his back right? How is the board supported - can't see it in the picture? did you cover the board is plastic wrap too?

kkbritt8 Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 4:46am
post #17 of 24

"so the only place that had cake is his back right? How is the board supported - can't see it in the picture? did you cover the board is plastic wrap too?"


Yes, the cake is the back. I created a rectangle out of PVC. I then used straight PVC for each leg. They came up to a "t" connector piece that I worked into the rectangle. I bought a cake board from my local cake supply store (I don't know the exact material it's made of, but it's not cardboard). I screwed the board onto the PVC rectangle and that held a 1/2 sheet cake. I added two layers and then shaped it to look like a back. I added RKT under the belly to give it an overall round belly appearance.

I did not cover the board in the plastic since the cake itself was actually sitting on a piece of cardboard on top of the solid board. I wish I could draw you a picture. It would make much more sense. I'll try to attach a photo of the structure when it was complete.

kkbritt8 Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 4:49am
post #18 of 24

K. So that didn't work. But I didn't realize till just now that I actually included a pic of the structure with my giraffe photo. Click into it and you'll see it.

madgeowens Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 6:15am
post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by hilly

I've heard some people use PVC as a rolling pin for fondant... Is there some PVC that's food safe and some that's not?




Yes I would like to know this as well. My husband said whatever the pvc stands for9I forget) that it was not a good idea to use that. So I don't but would love to know if it is ok... I see them use that stuff on the cake shows.

cloetzu Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 12:45pm
post #20 of 24

kkbritt8 - thanks for explaining - that does make sense and the pic helps!!! one last thing, can you tell me what the consistence of the RKT was? did you just use the recipe on the box?

ibmoser Posted 13 Oct 2010 , 2:18pm
post #21 of 24

PVC schedule 40 is the product that brings water into your house. It is generally regarded as safe. The gray pipes made for carrying sewage are not food safe. For a look at Bronwen's stands, check out the Cake Study category at Caljava - that will give you an idea of the type fittings you will need.

kkbritt8 Posted 16 Oct 2010 , 4:43am
post #22 of 24

[ can you tell me what the consistence of the RKT was? did you just use the recipe on the box?]

When I first started using RKT's to sculpt I was using the recipe on the box. But then I thought why? Most of the time the RKT is not eaten so why use up butter, vanilla or other ingredients (and plus I really don't taste any difference, especially since they always have frosting on them). Now I just grab a glass bowl, stick a 10 oz bag of marshmallows and about 2 tbsp of water and nuke it in the microwave for 45 seconds. Stir and cook another 45 seconds. By then it's usually melted enough so that you can just stir the lumps out.

Then I pour the marshmallows into my big mixing bowl and start pouring in RK's until it's not gooey. You don't want them to be dry, but you want to add enough RK's so that it soaks up the marshmallows. I use about 2/3 of one of the large boxes. I don't think really you can go wrong unless you just really don't use enough RK's.

Now, usually I will then turn them out into a greased pan to pack and let cool before I start squishing them into shape. However, I have also had to use them straight out the bowl without a problem.[/quote]

cloetzu Posted 18 Oct 2010 , 12:57pm
post #23 of 24

kkbritt8- thanks for explaining about the RKT!

emrldsky Posted 18 Oct 2010 , 3:00pm
post #24 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by ibmoser

PVC schedule 40 is the product that brings water into your house. It is generally regarded as safe. The gray pipes made for carrying sewage are not food safe. For a look at Bronwen's stands, check out the Cake Study category at Caljava - that will give you an idea of the type fittings you will need.




I was just about to post this if no one else had. Yes, the PVC piping used to bring water into your house, and move water through it, is considered food safe. Otherwise, we'd all be poisoned by our own water, right?

Another person did confirm that the metal pieces are called flanges.

Also, you'll need a male adapter to fit the PVC pipe into the flange (http://flexpvc.com/cart/agora.cgi?cart_id=2387335.31322&product=PVC-BuyTheBox-MaleAdapters).

I have a cantilever cake in my gallery that I used a PVC structure for. I had a plywood base (covered, of course), flange secured to that, the male adapter screwed into the flange, and my PVC pipe pushed into the male adapter.

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