Friday, March 21, 2014

Lord of the Rings Celebration

J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series is a favorite among my boys.  I believe we have this older set:  Lord of the Rings 4 Book Set: The Hobbit, the Fellowship of the Ring, the Two Towers, the Return of the King.  The older three have read all of them, and the youngest, Finn has finished The Hobbit.  I am thinking about giving one of the boys The Lord of the Rings Sketchbook for a gift sometime.  The previewed artwork looks very nice.  Does anyone have this book?  What do you think?

Because of the interest in Tolkien, it was no surprise when Riley turned 13 and requested a Lord of the Rings themed birthday cake.  Since Gandalf is his favorite Tolkien character, I opted to decorate his cake with an image of the wizard.

I saw this cake decorating technique on the internet in various places, and it is fairly straightforward.

  • The first step was to draw or print an image to put on the top of the cake.  Remember to print it in reverse from the desired finished product.  Otherwise your picture will end up in reverse on the cake.  For some pictures this may not matter, but other designs could be ruined, especially if words are included.  
  • After I printed my image, I laid a piece of wax paper over the top of it.  To keep both layers from moving around, I simply clipped them to a clipboard.  This also gave me a hard, smooth service on which to work.  
  • The idea to this design is that I am tracing the image onto the wax paper, only I am tracing with icing.  First I used a small round decorating tip ( the smaller the easier, I think) to outline everything in black icing.  To color my icing, I use this set of gels: Wilton 601-5580 1/2-Ounce Certified-Kosher Icing Colors, Set of 12.  A tiny dot of color is all that is needed for bright results.  I have also found that regular store-bought icing works fine.  I used store-bought cream cheese icing, since that is a family favorite.  While we generally try to eat real food, birthdays are special occasions, so I don't stress about the ingredients on these days.  Maybe one day I will be able to duplicate these desserts with only real ingredients, but not yet.

  • Once the outline was complete, I filled in between the black lines with the colors I thought looked most realistic.  I always stay with the same small round decorating tip since I sometimes have to fill in small details, but if you are working with a larger area, you could switch to larger tips.  Remember it will be the bottom layer of icing that will show on top of your cake, so don't worry if you cover over something already completed with another color.  Just try to ensure you completely fill in the picture.  

  • The next step, and perhaps the most important, is to freeze the image.  I simply placed the entire clipboard bundle into the freezer, and let it freeze for at least five hours.  You want to give the icing enough time to harden completely.  Otherwise your picture will not come off the wax paper, and it will be ruined.  (Trust me on this.  I know from experience.)  
  • Once my icing was hardened, I removed the wax paper from the clipboard, laid the image icing side down on the top of my cake, and slowly peeled off the wax paper until all that remained was Gandalf the Grey!
Riley was a very happy, surprised 13 year old that day!  Happy Birthday, Riley!

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