Do I really need to buy another tool?
If you decorate cakes, you know that for every teeny weeny task, there is probably a tool, a cutter, a mold or something out there that you could buy. If you’re like me, either you don’t have the time to get the item (or wait for it to get shipped – even though Prime is awesome!), or don’t have the extra $$ lying around. I recently had a Steampunk cake to do, and I had no molds for gears. What is a Steampunk cake without gears? Not a Steampunk cake.
So, I had to look around at what I had, and what I realized is that – like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz – the solution was right in front of me all along.
You can do this too, with just a few tools that I bet you already have in your tool arsenal (speaking of tools – I keep a running shopping list on Amazon for stuff, and I have a Favorite Things page to help. Doesn’t add any costs to you, just may provide some additional funds to help offset the cost of this blog!)
Let’s get started
You’ll need rolling pin, a few circle cutters, a cardboard circle if you don’t have a large circle cutter, a teardrop shape cutter and some metallic dust. Missing from this picture is also a penblade, which you’ll need if you use the cardboard circle.
The material you work with depends on you – for this pictorial, I’m using fondant, but for the cake I made, I used a combination of fondant, gumpaste and added some tylose powder. The finished cake I made I used some with just gumpaste, and some with fondant mixed with tylose. Whatever you have on hand, how stiff you need your pieces to dry (and how much time you have available will dictate what medium you use). I recommend gumpaste (I use this) if you need the gears to be able to stand on their own, but make sure that you have the time to dry them out, especially in humid weather climates.
For the first type of gear, we will roll out our fondant/gumpaste to about 1/8″ thick, and use the ridged circle cutter to cut out one circle (you can obviously do as many at a time as you need).
Using the teardrop cutter’s pointy end, line it up with the points of the scallopping and use the first 1/3 of the cutter to cut out small pieces all around the circle. This will turn your “medallion” into more of a gear. I have
Steampunk cakes tend to have many different types of gear designs on them, so if you didn’t want pointy ends, start with a plain circle cutter and go around the same way, leaving more space inbetween your cuts – it will look more like this:
For the larger gear, I used a 4″ cardboard cake circle and used that as a guide to cut another circle of fondant.
For the cuts on this, I used the round end of the tear drop cutter and went around the circle cutting out half moon pieces. In order to keep them even, I used the edge of the cutter to measure and mark where my next cut would be. So – cut your first piece out, then lay your cutter adjacent to where you cut and lightly press the edge farthest away from the original cut to make a small mark. Use that light mark to line up your next cut. And do this all the way around.
Here is an example of what it can look like at the end:
You can also cut circles out of the inside of the gears, big or small, to provide some variety and interest. Finally, use some metallic dust to age and metallicize (is that a word??) your gears. For the final cake, I used a combination of Rolkem copper and silver, and in this picture I am using Rolkem Super Gold. You could combine some brown dust with gold or silver to make it more aged – the possibilities are endless.
I hope this helps you think about the tools you have and what you can do with them – new toys are fun, molds are amazing, but with your brain in your head – you really already have the tools you need.