~ a carved cake ~

I've begun my final Cake Design class!  Each week we complete a different and elaborate cake project, working during the beginning of the week on building the product, and then meticulously fussing over all the detail work on the remaining days.
This past week our assignment was to create ~a carved cake~  - something that seemed entirely impossible at the beginning of the week.  I honestly had no idea how you could have sheet pans of cake and they would somehow, miraculously, become a recognizable form - however, step by step, and with much instruction,  I finally got there.
Since this class is during the month of October, our assignments have all had this pervading *Halloween* theme to them, which, with creativity, can be fun, but then again also quite limiting when your instructor wants you to continuously put out black cats and witch's hats.  However, I've been doing my best to work within the Halloween theme and still create things that are my style.

So, to do this and create a carved cake, I decided: a raven sitting atop a gnarled, rotting tree stump.

Cake carving isn't quite as terrifying as I thought.  You bake off sheets of cake, in this case we used pound cake.  Then, using the appropriate shaped cutter, you cut out small cylinders of the cake and layer them atop each other, pasting them together with buttercream.  Once you have them stacked high enough, the most difficult part comes, using a serrated blade to actually carve the cake into a shape.  Here, I don't have too much advice except for ,good luck, and generally you can add rolled fondant to any parts where you may have cut off too much.

Once you've gotten an acceptable shape, you cover it in a thin layer of butter cream.  Roll out fondant in the color you would like and lay the fondant on top of the shape, making sure it's stuck to all parts of the cake.  

After you've done this it's pretty much detail work from here on out.   For my tree stump I added the rolled fondant sheets in small chunks and then used a dresden to create the grooves in the tree, in some places sticking on a shaped fondant branch.
For the raven I added the initial layer of fondant, and then rolled out more and actually individually cut out small feathers.  I then used gum glue to paste them to the bird, making the wings separately, and gum gluing them on at the end.

Once the final shapes were there I used edible air brush paint and airbrushed the various greens and browns into the tree stump!

The bottom is just royal icing that was textured with a paintbrush, mixed in with a bit of edible gel colors.

And, finally - a finished cake!