Bird Bath Cake
by Joanne Spence
(Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)
I came up with this bird bath cake for a lady that loved her garden and birdwatching. The base of the cake is a 12" cake drum, which was covered with rice cereal treats to create an uneven surface (make sure you leave the center part pretty flat), coated with a thin layer of buttercream, then covered in green fondant. This was scratched with a veining tool to add interest and texture, then airbrushed with a darker green for depth.
The pedestal is also created from rice cereal treats, which were shaped around 3 wooden dowels (sharpened at the bottom end and protruding from the top end by about 2 inches). That created a sort of triangle in the treats. A thin layer of buttercream assisted the fondant in staying put. Hand shape the pedestal to the final shape, then put into the refrigerator to harden it while creating the bowl.
The bowl of the bird bath is 3 layers of chocolate fudge cake (2 inch deep layers - 8, 9 and 10 inches in diameter), which is a little more dense and therefore able to accommodate the design without falling apart. At first stack and fill them with the largest on the bottom and smallest on top.
For this bird bath cake, dark chocolate ganache filling holds the layers together, which were than carved to make a smooth dome with a flat top. More ganache is used to "attach" a cake board. Now the cake gets flipped and the top becomes the bottom. Leaving about an inch of lip to create the rim of the bowl, the large cake has about a half an inch of cake removed to give a bowl appearance.
The entire cake was then covered in a generous amount of ganache (about 1/4 inch thick). Cover the bowl with fondant, smoothing it into the bowl, then working up the edge of the lip, and then finally around the outside. Once it is nicely covered create the curved indentation pattern by hand, trying to keep the spacing pretty even (the amount of ganache under the fondant made this much easier).
Retrieve the pedestal and attach to the base, which has been covered with strips of wax paper to entirely cover except where the pedestal will sit, by driving the dowels all the way down into drum, and trim what remains extruding at the top, then apply a layer of ganache to hold the bowl. Place the bowl on top of the pedestal (make sure it is centered) and use another sharpened dowel down the center.
Airbrushing applies the color and interest to the bird bath. I brushed the entire structure (except the inside "bottom" of the bowl) in purple, then grey, and then blue in the indents. Blue only is used to create the water look in the bowl. Remove the wax paper and decorate as desired.
I used a variety of gum paste flowers and leaves that I made on long wires (which were poked into the base all the way into the drum), and made a pair of fondant birds to "bathe" in the water.