Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Narwhal Cake Tutorial

This tutorial has been a long time coming, but here it is! I had so many pictures to edit on top of emergency dog surgeries, out of state visitors, and getting ready for a week long vacation, it was crazy. But I finally found some time to put this together! This is going to be a long post with LOTS of pictures, so let's get started, shall we?

Let me start off by saying that I had originally wanted the narwhal's flukes to be in the air like this...

...but they were heavier than I expected, so they didn't stay in the air, even after they were secured three times over. So I laid them on the board and I think it looks just as good that way. Because I had wanted to have his flukes in the air, I shaped the end of his tail upwards. If the flukes are going to be laid on the board, you can just shape the tail as a straight slope. I will show you what I mean in a little bit.

As for ingredients and some supplies, you will need:

- 2 sphere cake halves (I used the Wilton sports ball pan...my favorite!)
- Rice Krispie Treats (RKT), store bought or homemade. I believe I used 1 recipe's worth
- 1 recipe of your favorite buttercream
- Fondant
- Candy melts
- One dowel rod
- Toothpicks
- Black icing color
- Ivory icing color
- 1 cake drum (mine was 14 inches)
- Rolling pin
- Fondant mat
- A stiff bristled paint brush
- Viva brand paper towels
- A Microplane grater 

Ok, so to get started you will need to cut off a little of the dome from one of the layers to create a flat base for the cake.

Spread a little buttercream on the board where you would like to place the cake. Take the layer that you just trimmed and position it on top of the buttercream, trimmed side down. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on the layer and position the other half on top. Roughly cover the cake in a thin layer of buttercream. It is easiest to frost a sphere cake by piling the buttercream on top of the cake and spreading it down towards the bottom.
To make things a little bit more interesting, I made a fun little gif. :)

Alright, so once you have your sphere cake crumb coated it's time to bring out the RKT. If you are using homemade, it is easier to do these next few steps when they are still slightly warm. If you are using store bought, work them until they are pliable and easy to mold.
Take a few handfuls of RKT and mold them into the shape that you would like for the tail. This is where I had decided to flip the tail up at the end for the flukes to be in the air. Like I mentioned before, that didn't work, so feel free to shape the tail however you would like. Lay the tail on the board behind the cake and fill in the gaps between the cake and the tail with pieces of RKT. Make sure it is a straight slope from the cake down to the tail. You don't want to be able to tell where the cake and RKT meet.

Next up is shaping the flukes, fins, and tusk. Take some more RKT and shape four curved tear drop shapes. Make two of them larger than the other two. The larger ones will be the flukes and the smaller ones will be the fins. Shape a cone for the tusk. You want to make sure that it is skinnier than you want the finished tusk to be. A layer of chocolate and fondant is going to be added over the RKT, so it will end up being about a half inch thicker in the end. I would have liked mine to have been a bit thinner, but oh well.
Once you have the tusk shaped, insert a dowel rod as far as possible into the tusk, being careful not to push it out through the sides or the other end. Once the dowel rod is inserted, take four toothpicks and insert them halfway into the tusk, evenly spaced around the dowel rod. Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of this, but I think the tusk might be hiding in the background of some pictures coming up.

Once you have shaped your fins, flukes, and tusk, melt some candy melts. Cover all the pieces in the candy melts and stick them in the freezer.
While the pieces are in the freezer, cover the whole body in buttercream.

Using a Viva paper towel, smooth the buttercream so that there are no lumps and bumps, especially on the RKT tail. You don't want bumps from the RKT to show through the fondant.   

(These next few pictures coming up are going to be extremely blurry. I apologize. I was snapping the pictures from the side of the camera, so I didn't realize it wasn't focused.)

Tint some fondant a light gray color and roll it out. Honestly, I can't remember how much I used, but I think I used almost a whole box of the Wilton Decorator Preferred fondant.
Once your fondant is rolled out, drape it over your cake and start smoothing it against the cake, starting at the top and working your way down. Trim the excess with a pizza cutter. The bottom edges don't have to be perfect, you can just cover them with "water" later. As you can see, mine were far from perfect. I have such a hard time covering spheres with fondant!

Now it is time to bring your pieces out of the freezer. While they are still cold, start grating the chocolate down until it is a smooth surface.

Brush them with water and cover the flukes and fins with the same gray fondant. For the tusk, tint a some fondant a light shade of ivory. Cover the tusk and, using a toothpick or a veining tool, draw a spiral around the tusk. Brush it with gold pearl dust if you would like to (who wouldn't want to?).

Lay the flukes and fins on the board against the cake where you would like them placed and set the tusk to the side. To the way far away side. This next step will show you why.

In a small bowl, mix a bit of black food coloring with some vodka or flavored extract (I just used vanilla extract). Dip your stiff bristled brush into the mixture and start splattering the color over the cake by running your finger across the bristles. You may want to wear a glove, or have some kind of protection between your finger and the brush. I didn't and my finger was purple for days.

I thought I got a picture of the process, but apparently my hand wasn't in the frame. SweetAmbs has a great tutorial for the splattering here. You want to have some bigger spots and some smaller ones.

When you are done with the spots, it's time to make the eyes and mouth. Make these however you would like. Give your narwhal whatever expression you feel like! Add some blue buttercream around the narwhal on the cake board for water. I also added some spots of white buttercream for little ice chunks since narwhals live in the Arctic waters.

Add the tusk and this little guy is done!!

Well, that's it for the tutorial! I hope that it was easy enough to follow. If you decide to make this cake, please share a picture with me. I would love to see it!

Before I go, since narwhals are so fascinating, I will leave you with a few narwhal facts. (Why not?)

- Narwhal tusks are actually enlarged teeth that grow through their faces
- Narwhal tusks have up to 10 million nerve endings inside
- Narwhal tusks can grow up to 10 feet in length
- Narwhals can dive 1 1/2 miles deep in the ocean
- As they age, narwhals change color. Old narwhals are almost all white.