“A Cat Cake” she said… “A Cat Sitting Up” she said… “Oh, And With Jewelry”
My granddaughter turned 6 the other day and last week the discussion of her birthday cake was entertaining. As much as I tried to convince her a nice round cake would be fun, she was not buying into that because it is “just too boring”. Her final decision was a sitting cat …with jewelry. It is nice that she has such faith in me but wow, a sitting cat — really???
After some digging around on the internet and some serious thought, I did come up with a plan… the body was baked in a 9″x5″ loaf pan and the head in a 1 cup glass measuring cup. I was actually impressed at how well the cake baked in the measuring cup. 1 cup of batter was the perfect amount with the rest in the loaf pan. I also spent some time wandering around the grocery store and settled on a pack of sugar doughnuts that would also come in handy. Be sure to freeze both cakes before starting so that the cutting is easier and more accurate.
Here’s how it all came together:
Trim both ends of the loaf cake so that the cake can stand on end (resist the temptation to eat these trimmings as you will need them later). Since the loaf was domed, that actually helped give a bit of curve to the cat’s back and the flat bottom became the cat’s front.
Then trim the cake as shown in the diagram to create the narrowed upper body and the cat’s haunches. Cut on a diagonal from about 1-1 1/2″ in at the top down to about halfway on the loaf. Leave
the top of the neck so that it is about 2″-3″ wide.
Trim the points off of the triangles so the “haunches” sit flush on the bottom. Use buttercream to “glue” the inverted triangle haunches to the body and then crumb coat the whole body. I used Swiss Meringue Buttercream in this case (and in most cases because it so good!)
I know it doesn’t look much like a cat yet — but it was starting to in my head at least lol!
Using a doughnut cut into pieces added more definition to the cat’s back legs as it sat.
Cut the doughnut as shown in the picture and discard (or eat!) the middle part. Each of the other pieces are added to the front of the “haunches” to form the front (knees) of the legs as shown.
Trim two other doughnuts the same way and cut the end off of each piece to form 4 ‘paws’. Two of which are tucked just under the ‘knees’ and the remaining two will be used for the front paws later.
Use icing to place the pieces on the cake then crumb coat the doughnut pieces so the whole cake is covered. Chill the cake to firm up the buttercream.
For the front legs, I simply used two straws trimmed to the right length and then wrapped them with the scraps of cake that were trimmed off earlier. Be sure to leave about an inch or so of straw not covered so that it can be pushed into the cake to attach. Fresh cake was fairly easy to mold around the straws and then crumb coat to hold it all together. Once chilled and set, it was easy to tuck the bare end of the straw into the front of the body and add a “paw” to each leg and cover it all in icing once again.
At this point, the whole cake can be covered in the final layer of icing. Place it on fairly thick so that there is enough icing to add the texture for “fur” later on. Add a different colour of icing to create a two coloured coat of fur, using the second colour as accent on the back head and legs.
The cat head is formed from the cake that was baked in a 1 cup measuring cup. The cake should end up round and slightly cone shaped tapering slightly from bottom to top. The narrow end (bottom of the measuring cup) is the nose and the wider end (top of the cup) is the back of the head.
Start by cutting a flat edge from nose to back so that the head will sit flush on the “collar”. Then trim around the nose and eyes to give the head some definition. Keep the nose fairly short but trim it to narrow it. There is no set pattern to this but just a bit of artistic creativity!
When the head is shaped, crumb coat and chill.
I found it easier to make the eyes out of royal icing first so pipe small almond shapes (about 3/4″) on some wax paper and let set to harden. The whiskers are also royal icing piped into thin lines on wax paper — make lots because a few will break for sure!
Cover the whole head in the final layer of icing and then add the ears. The ears were sheer luck — I happened to have some large marshmallows that were white with pink middles and these worked perfectly! Plain marshmallows will work too but with these I didn’t have to worry about colouring the inside of the ears pink. If a marshmallow is cut diagonally on the length, you will end up with two “ears”. A little shaping and forming will create perfect ears and a trimmed triangular piece of the pink part formed a perfect nose for the cat.
Once the “eyes” are dry and hard, place them on the head and colour with green and black piping gel. Also add a small black line for the mouth. When I first did the eyes, they were a little freaky (as in the picture) because the black outlines were too thick. A little extra icing around the eyes later fixed that thankfully.
NECK & COLLAR:
Using another doughnut, I used a slightly smaller cookie cutter and trimmed it so that there was a flat outer edge to the doughnut. A strip of blue fondant acted as the “collar” and was wrapped around the trimmed doughnut “neck”.
I then filled the doughnut hole with royal icing and stuck a bamboo skewer into the middle to set. The skewer will later hold the head and neck to the body so don’t let it set completely into the royal icing but just enough that there is a small hole for it to later slip through.
I simply added stripes of coloured sugar to the collar as bling.
For the requested jewelry, I cut a thick heart out of red fondant and coated it with sprinkle sugar. It wasn’t much in the way of jewelry but it was a sparkly tag on the collar.
With all the parts chilled to firm up the buttercream, it was fairly easy to using royal icing to glue it all together. I stuck the head on the neck and collar first with royal icing and then placed the bamboo skewer through the middle of the neck and into the head leaving enough to go into the body. (okay, so that sounds pretty gross if you forget that it’s cake I am talking about lol!)
Once that was set it was just a matter of placing the skewered head onto the body with some royal icing to secure it. The final task is to take a fork and just poke at the icing to create a “fur” effect. The completed cat was then placed on a hexagonal cake that had been covered with “quilted” red fondant so that it appeared to be sitting on a blanket covered cushion.
The very last thing is the tail. At this point I was running out of time and steam so I just took some left over fondant and rolled it into a long snake shape. It was then wrapped around the back and legs — like a cat would have their tail — and then covered in icing and textured.
Oh, and don’t forget to add the whiskers which I almost did! I had taken final pictures and packed the cake ready to go when I realized the whiskers were still sitting on the counter — oops