Finally, a sweet repost – it seems that my most photogenic posts from past times were savoury items. These cakes were a huge achievement for me, and looking back at them always makes me smile. I’ve decided to edit this post down to show just the process of creating the sweet little cupcake toppers, step by step. They were time consuming, but so worth it.
I made the toppers from shop-bought ready to roll white icing (some dyed red for the bows), a spot of yellow writing icing for the nose and the black icing pen I bought myself not so long ago for just this kind of thing. Here are the snaps with a bit of extra detail where I thought it was needed.
First, I rolled out the icing on a board rubbed with coconut oil, to stop sticking. I also had a sprinkler of icing sugar to hand to further help avoid sticking and to sprinkle over the top of the finished face shapes to give a better, matte surface for putting in the details. I had a reference picture on the screen of my laptop and I used my scribing tool to draw a kitty shape on the icing, then cut it out with the knife side of the tool. It did need some fine detail work, using the flat edge of the knife to smooth the surface and edges, the scribing tool to add little tucks around the ears and my hands to flatten the shape where it needed to be wider and pinch it where it needed to be fatter. It took a while to get the shape right. Once I had one finished, I used it as a rough template to cut out nine other shapes, knowing that the original would probably be too squashed and maimed from repeated lifting and laying to actually use. I smoothed off the edges of the nine new faces and rubbed in a fine coat of icing sugar. It’s worth mentioning here that the faces dried out as I was working with them, which meant that they were difficult to fine tune, as they were more likely to crack than to mould into the shape I wanted. I really should have had them wrapped in a damp tea towel while I worked on them, but I solved the problem by rubbing a little coconut oil into them with my fingers until they were soft again.
I thought a good place to start would be with the noses, then I’d have a central point to work around. Hello Kitty’s nose is very low on her face. I never expected to be so au fait with the dimensions of Hello Kitty’s face but there we are. It’s all part of life’s rich tapestry.
I put in the eyes and whiskers next, using the thick end of my black icing pen. It was tricky, and the surface of the fondant wasn’t smooth enough to stop the pen catching a little, and sinking in at some points. You can see that some of the whiskers are a bit raggedy because of this. I’m not sure what I would have done about this – maybe rubbing more icing sugar over the top would have helped, or maybe keeping them under that hypothetical damp towel I was talking about earlier would have been a better plan.
It’s amazing how much the little bows change the whole look of these, turning them from your bog-standard surprised cats into recognisable Hello Kitties. I wish I’d taken a couple of progress photos of the bows, but really they came together very quickly. I dyed a lump of icing red by rubbing some colour into the icing with a toothpick, then kneading it through until all the marbling had disappeared and the icing was a block red. Then I made a little ball of icing, which first made into a small sausage shape then flattened with my thumb. I used the scribing tool to push in on the middle of either side, making a sort of 8 shape. Then I used the side of the knife to flatten the top and bottom, and went back to the scribing tool to make little hollows on either side of what would be the centre of the bow. Again, there was some trial and error, but once I was happy with the shape I lifted them from the board, placed them on the toppers and pressed down gently to secure, then added a final, small ball of icing for the middle. Once they were positioned I could make the final touches of pushing in the middle of each side to give a bow shape, and redefining the hollows in the bow.
Once I’d made all these, the main cake topper was a breeze – just repeat all the above steps, but bigger and less fiddly. I had got the hang of it by this time. That’s not to say that I didn’t have a break in between where I tried and failed to make the 3D Kitty, of course.
And here they are in their final positions, atop devil’s food cake with white buttercream icing:
I added a row of heart sprinkles round the edge of the main cake, as a finishing touch. I did not make these. Why, even after all the other work, does that feel a tiny bit like cheating?
They were almost too cute to eat…