I'll be making a train cake for my home town's centennial baking competition in 2 weeks. Originally I thought about doing a 2D/3D combo but decided on this instead. It's a tutorial by Paul Bradford. He uses a very dense (and THICK) 10" cake and chocolate ganache only for filling and covering. I wanted to make a carrot cake with cream cheese Swiss meringue buttercream as a filling and a white chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream as outside coating. Would this be too unstable? I've never done a carved cake before!
Also, any suggestions for adding "smoke"? I was thinking cotton candy but not sure how I would get a tallish stack of it that will stay put.
I would definitely cover the carved cake with ganache for the strength and stability. Not all smoke goes straight up. In fact, if you used cotton candy and had it leaning back toward the engine, it would give the impression of forward motion. You could also use dry ice for smoke.
I don't know what your carrot cake cuts like but when carving I usually prefer to use either my choc or vanilla recipes. My carrot cake has too many nuts and teensy bits of carrot in it to carve nicely. I mean, yeah, you could smooth it all out with your buttercream but I find it easier to work with a smoother texture to begin with.
I like the cotton candy smoke idea. You could have a little florist wire running through the centre for stability perhaps?
Hi! Thanks for your input. I think I'll do ganache for the barrel part. That is 3" rounds stuck together, laying on their side! Rest is just square and layered vertically so not worried about those.
My carrot cake has larger shreds of carrot. I use my food processor. It features orange juice and crystallized plus powdered ginger, no nuts.
No access to dry ice so I'll see what I can do with cotton candy.
The only problem with cotton candy for the smoke is that cotton candy melts rather quickly when put on a cake. This happened to me with a cake that was fondant covered and in a very dry environment. I'm guessing that higher humidity would make it melt even faster.
I've also heard cotton candy melts but maybe if it was purchased in those celephane bags it might last longer ?
Dang! Thanks for the heads up on the cotton candy. Think I'll still try it and maybe add it last minute? No idea. I'm editing as I go.
For the cake composition, I'm thinking I might change it up. Paul Bradford uses a 10" square (well that's what he recommends but uses 10" round in his tutorial). For the boiler part, he cuts a bunch of 3" rounds and stacks them vertically. I'd rather a solid cylinder I can cut horizontally to add my cream cheese SMB so think I'll try baking part of my carrot cake in an empty can. Yeah. No pressure. I might do a loaf pan for the main section under the boiler then will need a bit extra cake for the rear cabin.
Still torn on what to use for the outside. I would like to use white chocolate SMB but realize that ganache is far sturdier. This cake is 3 big "pieces" then the front plow is rice krispies. I think SMB would work, no?
I've baked in cans a bunch of time and they work perfectly. I just grease and flour them, like a cake pan, and the cake comes right out.
I've already given you my thoughts on using SMB under the fondant. I would use it to fill, but cover with a strong ganache. Carrot cake, to me, seems like a questionable choice for carving. The cake needs to be sturdy and have a fine, close grain, like pound cake. No way could I carve my carrot cake! It has carrots, raisins, nuts, pineapple and coconut, so it is much too chunky for carving.
If you wait until the last minute to add the cotton candy, it should hold up for a while, anyway.
Oh, and you probaby do not want cream cheese anywhere near this cake. It is notorious for being too soft to hold up under fondant resulting in bulges and sagging.
Thanks Sandra! Always so helpful :) My cream cheese SMB just has a bit added so it's pretty sturdy. I've used it as filling in fondant covered cakes before. No problem. My carrot cake is flavored with orange juice and crystallized ginger + powdered ginger so no big chunks. And really "carved" cake is an iffy designation for this cake. The bottom is one rectangular log. The boiler would be one piece baked in the can, so no cutting there (except to apply the filling). Then the back cabin is basically a little rectangle. So no "carving" as per your masterpieces! I think this will work. Famous last words from the uninitiated ;)
I recently did a train cake, it's in my pictures. I just made a gluten-free vanilla cake and covered it in ganache. For the round parts, I baked the cake in a soup can.
I've also used cotton candy as 'clouds' on a hot air balloon cake. It was just laying on the cake board but I did notice it disappeared over time. So, in dry/cold weather it will disappear or seemingly evaporate over time. I did need to reapply the cotton candy just before delivery. HTH!
May I suggest you use my *original* WASC recipe for the carrot cake. https://www.cakecentral.com/recipe/7445/the-original-wasc-cake-recipe I have used spice and carrot mixes from time to time. If spice, add some cinnamon; to either add about 1 cup of fresh shredded carrot. Then I add the larger jar of baby food carrots then fill that with water (in place of the 1+ cup water in the recipe) and well chopped nuts. I use pineapple jam for a filling but that can be anything that works for you. Using the recipe will give you a nice firm cake for carving but still give you the carrot cake you want.
Thanks Lynn :)