This was a cake I made for my 22nd birthday. It would be great, of course, for kids, but you’re only as old as you feel! Dinosaurs are awesome.
You Will Need:
Piping bag (I used disposable with no nozzle fittings)
a Print out of the fossil, appropriately sized
a Clean paintbrush
Tape to fix the GP paper to the print out
1. First of all I fixed some grease-proof paper over the print out, taping it in place on the back. I then mixed up my royal icing to a nice stiff consistency. It’s better it be too thick than too thin – you can add more water, but you only have as much icing as you purchased. Thick icing will give you much more controlled piping. Try to buy a good brand of royal icing. You could always use gum paste and a clay gun, but I don’t like the look of gum paste, it’s too thick and shiny. Of course, it’s hardier and less likely to break.
2. Once my icing was ready, I took one of my plastic, disposable piping bags and cut off the tip. You want a nice, fine line of icing. It may be that your icing is too thick to squeeze through, in which case you’ll want to cut the hole slightly bigger. Don’t cut off too much because you can’t add it back on. Of course, I payed £2.50 for 100 bags, so I could easily have just tried again, though transferring icing from one bag to another can be messy work.
3. Once you’re satisfied the the icing line is the right thickness, begin. I started out very fine and ended up cutting a little more off. I started on the head, and traced the outline first before filling it in. It was surprisingly easy! Just be sure to get the outline of the sensory holes (eyes, ears, nose and so on) before filling it in. Once you’ve done it, either let it set before adding more layers, or just go for it. If your icing is a bit too thin, then it may start to spread out if you add too much. Of course, you can generally tell if that is the case from just doing the outlines. I built up 3-4 layers of icing without letting it dry. I was too eager. But nothing bad came of it.
The teeth were a nightmare, but do be aware that, if your icing is thick enough, you can easily wipe mistakes away with a fine tool – the tip of a knife would give fair precision without disrupting the rest of the piece. I only gave the teeth one layer to begin with because of how small they were.
4. Continue on with the rest of the body. I ended up keeping my laptop open next to me with the picture I’d printed open on it. This allowed me to see important details that were occasionally hidden by shadow cast by the rest of the icing. For example, the tail of a raptor is generally rigid, apart from a few vertebrae at the base that allowed for movement to aid balance and/or attack (I’m not sure which, if either). This meant that while I was making obvious vertebrae images along the spine and base of the tail, it was not a mistake to stop adding them on the tail itself.
Here is the finished dinosaur. All parts of the picture beneath have been covered. I’m not too happy with the pelvis, it’s a bit lumpy, but for some reason I just couldn’t figure out how to flatten it out. Let it set for a day or so. The internet said a tiara would take about 2 hours, but the packaging didn’t say anything except how to store unused icing. I didn’t want it to still be remotely wet when I went to put it on the cake so I made this on a Saturday, and removed it on the Tuesday, so it got about 3-4 days to dry. To be honest, it was fine on Sunday, but my cake wasn’t ready yet
I had baked and frosted my cake on Monday, leaving it until Tuesday to apply the dinosaur bones. This gave the frosting on the cake a chance to set a little, which would reduce the mess – even if only slightly – that was sure to come when placing the broken bones back down. The last thing I want is for my unrealistically white bones to get chocolatey!
If you need it to be in one piece, then if it breaks, lay it out upside down and put a little bit more royal icing on the back, like a glue. It’ll hold it together, hopefully long enough to move it.
I added toothpicks with string tied around them to make a sort of marking fence around the bones, and then added some excavation tools I piped earlier from royal icing, and coloured with lustre dusts. They were admittedly an afterthought, so they don’t look too great.