So you want to make an Angry Birds cake, but you have no idea where to start, right? Then this Angry Birds cake tutorial is for you. Never fear, I was in your shoes just a few days ago. Now, full disclosure here, I have never attempted decorating a cake before in my life. Baking and I, generally don’t play well together. Baking requires focus, precision, and meticulous attention to detail, none of which are skills, with which I have been blessed. My standard procedure for birthday cakes for my family is to purchase a cake mix, and a can of frosting and call it good to go. In my defense, the results have always been tasty, if a bit slapdash, and not the most visually stunning creations ever seen.
Recently, though, some sort of madness took hold of me, and I decided to challenge myself. All three of my children, (along with my husband and myself, if we are being honest) are huge Angry Birds fans; and a few weeks ago my son’s cub scout pack announced the upcoming annual cake auction, which I put on the calendar, and then promptly forgot. A week before the auction, I got a reminder, and realized I needed to get my act together. Knowing that every kid in Leo’s den was obsessed with Angry Birds, I decided that would be a good theme to tackle. I looked online for inspiration and found plenty of amazing cakes to give me ideas.
I bought some very basic cake decorating supplies: Edible markers, some fondant tools, gel food coloring, geometric shape cutters, and cake boards. You can find all of these supplies at craft and hobby stores nationwide, or online. I found a recipe for a basic chocolate cake (will post that recipe later, too) and put it together with a minimum of muss and fuss. One thing I did, and I highly recommend you do it as well: bake your cake at least one day prior to decorating it. That gives it plenty of time to cool and set before you attack it with frosting, fondant, and other tools and implements of destruction!
These are the cake boards that I used. Because this cake for an auction, I wanted to be able to display it to its best advantage. They are just basic white sheets of cardboard, and they did a great job. They are also available in various sizes for round cakes, if you decide to do a layer cake. They make for easy transport, and also you don’t need to worry about trying to cut a beautifully decorated cake in a pan, which would be awkward at best.
Here is the chocolate cake, cooled and ready to be turned out of the pan, for decorating. And… now is probably as good a time as any for another confession. Shortly after I decided to embark on such an ambitious project, I realized that I might just be certifiable, to attempt this project on my own. So I decided to call and bribe/beg/blackmail Lori, one of our fabulous content writers, here at Discount Party Supplies, to come and give me a hand with this project. (Certain incriminating photos of her in some very acid-washed, glorious 1980′s fashion, may have played a part in her decision. No one will ever accuse me of not playing hardball when I need to.) At any rate, she graciously agreed to come over, and that meant I would be able to photograph the whole process more easily, so that I could share it with all of you! Yea, Lori! You rule! (And let’s face it, the 80′s were dark and troubling times for all of us, fashion-wise.)
Lori covered the cake board with foil and taped it on the other side to keep everything in place, while I whipped up a batch of rice krispie treats to use as the base for the sculpted parts of the cake. The Angry Birds cake is particularly suited for this, because almost everything you are going to be making, is in simple geometric shapes. Circles, squares, rectangles, cones, etc. in varying sizes will take care of almost everything that you will need for this project. I also made fondant, which was ridiculously easy, (hint, have plenty of shortening on hand to use when you are working with fondant, to keep your hands and working surfaces from getting sticky) and separated out small amounts and colored them, using the gel food colors. It really does work best to use the gel colors and not the liquid food colorings, which give you more muted colors, and tend to throw off the consistency of the fondant.
We created circles for boulders, pigs, and some of the birds. Remember, the birds come in different sizes, so plan accordingly. Medium (about the size of a ping pong ball) for the red bird, golf ball size for the black bird, a similarly-sized egg shape for the white bird, a medium cone shape for the yellow bird, and finally a small jawbreaker-sized ball for the blue bird. We created one large ball for the king pig, three medium balls for the other pigs, and one teeny piglet sized ball, too. You can be creative with this cake and introduce any elements that you like. We put a box of TNT, some boulders of different sizes, a nest with a few eggs in it, and a block building structure over one of the pigs. Of course we also had to make a slingshot for the birds to launch themselves at those pesky pigs.
Another recommendation is to lay out all of your various sculpture elements on the cake before you frost it. That will give you a much better sense of size, perspective, ratios, etc. Once the cake is frosted, it is not an option to do that, and it could potentially save you a lot of time and difficulty later! I highly recommend it as a basic step in cake decorating. (Although for all I know, that is Cake Decorating 101, and I am a big dummy. Remember, first-timer here!)
Frost the cake with your favorite buttercream icing, this will provide the “glue” that holds the fondant in place on the cake. It also tastes much better than fondant, so don’t skip the frosting! Another great tip that will save you time and effort later on: cut a couple of sheets of 8.5 x 11 paper and slip them underneath the cake prior to frosting it. It is difficult to get frosting onto a cake without some smears and smudges at the base, and by putting the paper underneath the cake, you can just take them out after the cake is decorated, and your cake base looks clean and shiny and new!
Next, roll out your fondant on a clean work surface. Make sure to “grease” the surface you are going to be working on with a bit of vegetable shortening. Fondant wants to stick to things, and the shortening will make your work much easier, and save you money by not having to color all of the gray hairs you have grown, after you have ripped your sheet of fondant for the fifth time! We rolled ours out to a thickness of less than an eighth of an inch, which was thinner than it should have been. We scalloped the edges of the fondant, and lifted it onto the cake. This was really tricky, and involved coordination, timing, and not panicking – which was very hard to achieve, because the darn thing kept stretching and ripping. If we had rolled it out thicker, I think it would have been much easier to work with, and I wouldn’t have cursed, and stomped, and shrieked nearly as much.
See what happened? Houston, we have a problem! Now I posted this picture for a reason. Even if it seems like disaster has struck, don’t give up! If you haven’t dropped the cake on the floor, or had your dog eat it when you left it to close to the countertop’s edge, it is probably fixable. It might not be easy, but it can almost certainly be done. Lori and I saw this and nearly had heart failure., but it was too late to give up,so we dried our tears, straightened our shoulders, and got back to work. We trimmed the messy edges of the cake, and started brainstorming for a plan B to figure out a solution. We quickly came up with one. Hide it!
We knew we wanted to have a platform/mound structure for the pigs to perch on. We sculpted one out of rice krispie treats (seriously, that stuff is awesome, you can make anything out of it!) and used some of our handy dandy brown, earth-colored fondant to cover it. Having learned our lesson from a few minutes before, this time we didn’t roll it nearly as thin. Guess what? It worked like a charm. We were able to cut and work with the platform cover with no trouble at all.
It covered it perfectly, and see, not a single tear or wildly stretched out section in sight! It wasn’t terribly thick either, maybe the equivalent to a pie crust? But it made all the difference in the world. Lesson learned.
Once we molded the fondant onto the structure, it even added some cool texture to the structure, and covered almost all of the hideousness from earlier. By the way, I also did a little repair work with some warm water and an art brush. It worked wonders in repairing a few of the tears. Just remember to be very sparing with the amount of water you use. A little goes a long, long way!
We were finally ready to start covering our sculpted rice krispie pieces with fondant! And honestly? This is when the project got a whole lot more fun. Once you get the basics in place, working with the fondant, is a lot like sculpting with clay, or silly putty. So let your inner pre-schooler out to play, and have some fun with decorating!
By the way, every time I watch a cool cooking show about cooking, or cake-decorating, they are always in an immaculate workspace, with everything pre-measured, pre sifted, pre-cut, and perfect. I don’t know about you, but I don’t live in that world. I don’t have a staff of production assistants to keep everything looking tidy and organized for me, and I wanted to give you an idea of what your kitchen might actually look like when you are working on a project like this. A little messy, a touch disorganized, but nothing that can’t be cleaned up in relatively short order. So don’t be afraid to take on a project like this.
I still had one messy spot that defied my repair attempts, so I simply covered it up with a big ol’ boulder. Problem solved!
We started working on the birds and pigs next. It really was a kick to see the bird’s personalities begin to come through as we gave them faces and features. I am not at all artistic by nature, but these were pretty easy to do, because all of the features are variations on simple geometric shapes. Circles, semi-circles, pyramids, etc. We had my laptop nearby, so we could consult with the video game to make sure we were recreating the birds as closely as possible.
Like I said, this was far and away the most enjoyable part of the project. Lori and I kept giggling like little kids as we finished each character, marveling over how cute they were. Lori started working on the pigs, which were again, constructed almost completely of circles, so she knocked them out much faster than expected.
I started working on actually constructing the Angry Birds tableau. As I got some of the pieces in place, I got worried about them falling off. We came up with a solution of using bamboo cocktail picks to hold things in place. We put one end in the fondant characters and pieces, and stuck the other end in the cake. It anchored everything perfectly for us!
The last few steps were just putting some finishing touches in place. Making a nest with eggs, Creating the timber structure for the little pig to hide under, and making sure our boulders and the box of TNT were in the right spots.
I will admit, we had a few tense moments, trying to get the little blue bird to sit properly on top of the slingshot, but we finally got things to look the way we wanted. When we had it finished, Lori and I TOTALLY DID NOT jump up and down like eight-year-olds and hug each other. That would not have been dignified. What? You weren’t there, so you will never know!
Okay, I am putting this one in, just for fun! Lori and I were finishing up the cake just as my kids were getting home from school. They were looking forward to seeing what we had done, but I don’t think their expectations were terribly high. ( I really can’t blame them; like I said earlier, up until now Betty Crocker was my guru, not the Cake Boss!) As they walked into the kitchen, they saw it and literally gasped! That was all of the validation we needed. We had done it! Two complete novices had managed to put together a cake that had impressed our harshest critics. My children.
Closeup of the naughty piggies and the eggs that they stole.
The final product! We remembered at the last minute, that we had forgotten to make a rubber band for the slingshot, so I quickly rolled and cut one out of orange fondant. Whew, that was close! But it all worked out. The cub scouts were very pleased with our contribution, and we were thrilled to help out such a good cause. Now that we have done this cake, we are already thinking of trying something new next time, and of course we will share the results with you! Think of it as “Cake Decorating for Dummies – If I Can Do It, So Can You!” (P.S. in that title, please remember that I am definitely the dummy, not you. You are fabulous, and pretty, and you smell nice, too!)
So there you have it. A pretty respectable (if I do say so myself) Angry Birds cake that was made, entirely from scratch by two people who had never, ever, done anything like this before. We had a lot of fun, got it done over the course of a few hours (obviously, if you make this solo, it will take a little longer) and didn’t even have a nervous breakdown while we were doing it! Although things got a little tense when we tried to work with the too-thin sheet of fondant, I will admit! If you want to try making one like this, I say give it a shot. You will almost certainly surprise yourself with just how awesome the results turn out to be. Good luck!