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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Kid eats shark: A shark birthday cake for Master Three

Someone had a birthday party this weekend.

Master Three wanted a shark cake, and I, swept up in a moment of ambitious enthusiasm, agreed to make one in secret.

I've never made a character cake before. Or *sob* had my own. But back in my day, the cakes we hovered around when it was time to blow out the candles were Victoria sponges, sandwiched with cream and decorated around the edge with rainbow sprinkles.

When duty calls however, who can resist the urge to create a cake spectacular from a kilo of tinted buttercream icing?

Inspiration came from this wonderful shake cake from Chirky which I found via google. Okay perhaps not inspiration but a total copy job, except her's is still better :)

I baked two butter cakes on Friday night, one a large rectangle for the ocean, the other a loaf tin to create the shark. Chirky had made her shark using red velvet cake. My loaf ended up pink with reddish swirls - it was only later that I realised red velvet cake needs a whole bottle of red food colouring. But in hindsight perhaps a little less red dye for a dozen three-year-olds can only be a good thing anyway :)

The cakes were allowed to cool overnight and on Saturday evening, Divedude was delegated with the carving, a thorough and complex process that involved sketches and the use of markers to act as cutting guidelines. Best of all was the resulting box of cake shavings that were duly nibbled on all night.

The fins, gums and teeth were made from white icing (thank you aisle 5 of Woolworths). The fin was chilled in the fridge to firm up, then secured with a toothpick (just as Chirky suggested); a licorice strap was used to form the eyes and gills.

The gums were the hardest thing to roll out and apply, and in hindsight this probably should have been applied last, after the teeth. It didn't help that I kept dirtying teeth and gum with bits of red icing, but I try to convince myself this just added to the deadly bloody-toothed shark image. I also thought about adding a bloody torn limb, or baking a finger into the shark itself, but no, apparently three-year-olds have nightmares and tend to find that a little too freaky. Darn.

The icing was vanilla buttercream. Butter and icing sugar are so very very tasty. Heeding advice that coloured gels are much more intense than the water-based variety from the supermarket, I picked up bottles of red, blue and black from Iced Affair, a wonderful cake decorating shop in Camperdown [their website is currently down but details are provided below].

Staff there were supremely friendly and suggested I pipe the icing onto the shark, as crumbing was likely to occur with the cut surface. This was a brilliant trick (and so too, was my idea to use the empty icing mixture packet as a disposable piping bag). They also suggested I make up three different shades of blue icing to give the ocean a 3D effect. The colour difference didn't seem that great but overnight the shades did darken and intensify brilliantly (cake decoraters often recommend you make up icing shades the night before because of this).

The waves were peaked and finished with shimmering blue sprinkles.

The kids clamoured around like vultures during the big reveal. Every kid wanted a piece of the shark. No fingers were found.

And the birthday boy? His smile was bigger than the shark's. He ate two pieces, his fingers and lips happily smothered in streaks of blue.

Thanks again to Chirky for the idea and design template :)

Iced Affair
53 Church St, Camperdown, Sydney
Tel: +61 (02) 9519 3679
Open Monday to Friday 9.00am-5.00pm
Saturdays 10.00am-4.00pm

Related GrabYourFork posts:
Making a gingerbread house
19 comments - Add some comment love

posted by Helen (Grab Your Fork) on 11/04/2007 11:52:00 pm


  • At 11/05/2007 6:19 am, Blogger hazchem said…

    oh, can I have a Kraken for our yet to be planned housewarming? puh-LEASE???

    Seriously though, that looks fantastic. I remember when the green jelly topped farm cakes from the Women's Weekly Children's Birthday Cake cookbook were the go. Nothing as fancy as a shark though.

  • At 11/05/2007 7:46 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Congratulations Helen, you broke your character-cake-decorating cherry! I have, in my time, made a butterfly, a teddy bear, a fairy castle, a pirate, a chocolate pinata, a couple of numbers decorated with flowers and ladybirds, a princess and two trampolines!

    Did you eat any of the finished cake? I always find that by the time I'm finished I'm so over the idea of sugar that I don't eat any actual cake. I, a total cake addict, find the character-cakes I've made completely resistible.

  • At 11/05/2007 8:37 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    WOW! That looks fantastic! I too never got a character cake and I'd seriously love to get that shark cake for my next birthday. Great job!

  • At 11/05/2007 8:37 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I think this is fun, and your cake looks pretty awesome, if you ask me! Glad you found the template helpful. :)

  • At 11/05/2007 9:03 am, Blogger ragingyoghurt said…

    happy birthday R!

    that blue frosting looks amazing and realistic! i want to dive right in!! for all the wrong reasons, obviously. ;P this one went so well, you might have to make yourself a character cake, helen. maybe hank moody jumping out of the pacific ocean? HAHA.

  • At 11/05/2007 10:11 am, Blogger PiCkLeS said…

    Love it!!

    So like are you interested in making my wedding cake? =P


  • At 11/05/2007 10:44 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    What a great cake! You have a lot of talent :)

  • At 11/05/2007 11:13 am, Blogger red bean said…


    I didn't realise the use of red food colouring, until I saw the original version of the cake. Bloody!

  • At 11/05/2007 12:22 pm, Blogger daddybaby said…

    Hi, I'm so freaked out because I just googled shark cake today for my son't "shark birthday party" in two weeks and your beautiful cake popped and we are going to copy your design VERBATIM. I'm writing from Los Angeles so none of your friends will no I copied. :) Thank you thank you thank you... my husband says he can do it!!!!!

  • At 11/05/2007 12:44 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Wow..! that's a nice shark..! great work..!

  • At 11/05/2007 8:14 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    That is SOME CAKE. You have some cool skills there- cake decorating is just too fiddly for me.
    Brings me back to my character cake days. I once had one in the shape of a swimming pool. (There was jello involved, I wish I had a picture!)

  • At 11/06/2007 2:49 am, Blogger Terri @ A Daily Obsession said…

    u r something!i like tt the shark looks fierce n wild bc u iced it rough instead of smooth. i see tt kid in the white hat, n her expression is enough to make all that effort worthwhile!

  • At 11/06/2007 12:14 pm, Blogger Eva said…

    Chapeau, Helen! Your cake decorating is absolutely awesome! Can you guess how many hours it took to complete the cake?

  • At 11/06/2007 9:22 pm, Blogger uberannie said…

    that looks awesome, nice work :) I don't know enough children to have any excuses to make such fun cakes hehe. Work people might look at me weird if I bring in a shark cake!

  • At 11/07/2007 9:45 am, Blogger Shayne said…

    Oh yes, how far will we go so that our kids can have cool Birthday cakes. My DD will be 4 in a month and she wants a "party dress" cake and DS had a car in August. The shark is cool and you did a cick butt job on it!

  • At 11/08/2007 7:53 am, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You must be so exhausted from making such a terrific cake, that you haven't been able to blog all week :)

    An awesome cake, good onya and thanks for teh great blog!

  • At 11/08/2007 11:58 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi hazchem - Green jelly cakes sound pretty fancy to me! It was fun to make and ps. I had to google Kraken :)

    Hi Alison - Wow you've made a lot of great-sounding cakes.

    Yep, I did eat cake and lots of it. The icing was definitely the highlight!

    Hi Lorraine E - I have no doubt you could create a better shark cake than I. But yes, we should all re-live our childhood dreams and make them come true I think.

    Hi Chirky - Thanks for your wonderful idea. I think our shark dynamics could've been improved but I couldn't have asked for a better template! :)

    Hi Bowb - R was very pleased and apparently a lot of his friends were talking about it all night (with similar requests!).

    And rofl at Hank Moody. Now that's what I'd call a cake!

    Hi Pickles - I didn't think you wanted a shark for a wedding cake! lol. Nah, I don't think I'll be going commercial anytime soon :)

    Hi katie - Thanks but I think icing naturally makes everything look tasty :)

    Hi Red Bean - My shark wasn't quite as bloody as the original. Next time (?) I'll be sure to use a whole bottle of food colouring!

    Hi daddybaby - Ahh I was googling that exact query two weeks ago! Good luck with the cake and happy birthday to your son too!

    Hi Mama Bok - Thanks. It was fun. And tasty :)

    Hi Bean_Mix - Wow a swimming pool sounds very cool. I can just imagine a few palm treats and a diving board too :)

    Hi Terri - Ha, the icing turned out rough because I probably didn't put enough milk but I like that you thought it was deliberate :) The kids did love it. It was a lovely sight to see.

    Hi Eva - Baking the cake didn't take long, but I guess that shaping and decorating would've taken about three hours maybe?

    Hi Uberannie - Nah I think everyone at work would love it! I know I would!

    Hi Shayne - Thank you. I've always wanted to try making a character cake so it was fun for me, in spite of the effort. Your cake plans sound fantastic. I might have to check out your car cake for future reference :)

    Hi Anon - It's been a big week indeed and not just from cake baking :) Glad you've been enjoying the blog and I'm uploading a shiny new post tonight!

  • At 11/10/2007 11:02 pm, Blogger ioyces said…

    hi Helen!! Fabulous job!! The adoring look on the little girl's face is priceless!!!

  • At 11/11/2007 5:34 pm, Blogger Helen (Grab Your Fork) said…

    Hi ioyces - Thanks. The kids were all crowding around with glee. It only took about 3 minutes for the whole cake to be massacred though :)


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