My most recent cake order was for a 1st birthday and the girl in question is a huge fan of the humble rubber duck. I was quite excited when I heard about this order as I’ve wanted to try a rubber duck cake for quite some time. As my first baby shower cake was based around a pair of baby booties I wasn’t sure when I would get my chance to try modelling a rubber duck. As well as looking forward to creating this cake I was happy to hear my brief was very open to my interpretation as long as the duck was featured.
Here is the final cake…
See after the jump for step by step photographs and the cake recipe.
I started with my basic vanilla sponge recipe which is fine for a cake with a topper but for something that requires sculpting or that needs to hold heavy decoration I use a dense madeira cake.
This recipe yields two 7 inch cakes of about an inch deep but as I wanted a larger base cake I doubled my mixture and made three 9 inch cakes.
Victoria Sponge Cake from The Complete Cookbook by Mary Berry
6 oz Self-Raising Flour
6 oz unsalted butter, room temperature
6 oz Caster sugar
1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
– Preheat oven to 180C/ 350F and grease & base line two 7 inch tins.
– Add all the ingredients to a stand mixer & mix (or beat by hand) for 3 or 4 minutes until the mixture is pale and smooth
– Split the mixture between the 2 tins and bake for approx 20 to 25 mins or until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean and the top is springy to the touch.
– Cool in the tins for 5 or 10 minutes then remove, peel off the baking paper and leave to cool on racks until required or once cooled, store in an airtight container.
I tend to adjust this recipe depending on the taste of the client but my most common alterations are to use half vanilla sugar/ half caster sugar and add the seeds from half a vanilla pod to give it that extra vanilla kick. The advantage of using the vanilla pod is that once the seeds have been scraped out you can cut the pod up to add to jars of sugar to make your own vanilla sugar.
Once I have prepared my cakes I start work on colouring my fondant and creating the base for the rubber duck. The image below shows the ducks that I used for shape & colour inspiration.
As I try to keep as much of the cake edible I decided to try using rice crispie treats as a way to model the duck. I’ve seen many fellow bakers use this trick but had yet to attempt it myself. It was surprisingly easy to master and I’ll definitely be trying this again. I used shop bought rice crispie squares but I’m going to try and add melted marshmallows to some rice crispies to make my own version at less cost. I moulded the shape of the duck as best I could but left off the beak shape as I wanted to make that from fondant and attach it once dried.
Using the yellow fondant I moulded the duck shape and rounded the wings. I used a modelling tool to mark the wing shape and make it more defined. I used small balls of black and white to make the eyes and then painted the whole duck with vodka to get rid of the icing sugar marks. It took me 7 attempts to make the beak but I was quite pleased with the final result. I left it to dry overnight and then attached it with some royal icing.
I then used white fondant mixed with gumpaste to make various sized balls to look like bubbles surrounding the duck and cake. These were left to harden overnight, attached to the cake with little dabs of royal icing then dry brushed with a little pearl ivory lustre dust.
I filled the cakes with stabilised whipped cream and raspberry jam. I don’t have a definitive recipe for the vanilla cream but I use double cream and while it’s being whisked in my stand mixer I add a good pinch of cream of tartar, several large spoonfuls of vanilla angel delight (powdered mix) and large spoonfuls of sifted icing sugar. I basically add the vanilla & sugar until it tastes how I want it. I should get around to testing how much I need to add but each time I just guesstimate and whip it until it holds peaks. I use this for piping onto cupcakes and for all my cake fillings.
Then I use the leftover cream to crumb coat the 3 cake layers, leaving me with a smooth base to cover with fondant.
Once that has set up a little I roll out my blue fondant to the desired size and cover the cake. I brush the whole cake with vodka mixed with pearl ivory lustre dust to give it a sheen. I add the duck, then attach all the ‘bubbles’ before brushing them with the lustre dust. I clean up the board a little et voila….one rubber duck cake for a hopefully happy 1 year old girl.