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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The making of a dragon cake

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My friend Dawn heard that we were doing a Chinese theme for the girls’ birthday party and sent me an email saying that I just HAD to make a dragon cake. She makes one every year for their big FCC Chinese New Year’s party and pinky swore that it was easy enough that even I -- a mama who has bought all of the girls’ other cakes -- could do it.

She was right. This cake is foolproof. Here’s what I did to make our 4.5 foot dragon.

Gather your ingredients (you can bake from scratch or use mixes like I did):DSC_8375LR

Get a large board or shelf (1 to 1.5 feet wide and about 5 feet long) and cover it with a colorful plastic tablecloth.

Bake four bundt cakes. (If you’re nervous about cake disasters like me you can bake them a day or two in advance and wrap tightly in saran wrap.) Cut each cake in half and slide one half down to make an S shape. Arrange the cakes on your board.DSC_8497LR

Tint your icing with food coloring (we used yellow, but any color of dragon would work) and ice one bundt, using icing to join the halves. Put fruit candies along the spine of the dragon. Then decide how you want to finish the cake. Dawn has used smooth icing with bright sprinkles or “color mist food color spray” for contouring, her friend (the original dragon-cake lady) has covered the entire cake with star-tip icing stars, and I woke up one morning at 5:30 and had the mad thought “I can cover that baby with M&Ms to make scales!!” Mwah ha ha. After this manic wakeup, I called my friend Maggie (my cake cohort) and began the phone call with the words she has come to fear “I have an idea!” Heh.

Anyhow, work on one bundt at a time rather than icing the entire cake at once, because the icing will set up and make the M&Ms hard to place near the end. We used 3 pounds of yellow M&Ms, and about 1.25 pounds of orange M&Ms to create the look of an underbelly. DSC_8513LR

Make a tail however you’d like, by cutting the end of the cake to a point, adding candies, or, like we did, with Twinkies. We stacked up four Twinkies and slightly shaved the end of the cake so it sloped into the Twinkies.DSC_8524LRDSC_8617LR-2DSC_8742LR-2

You can use icing to make feet, or the fruit candies. I used Gummi Chicken Feet, purchased at the mall candy store (same store where I got the pricier-than-gold single-colored M&Ms in bulk). I didn’t like the extra toe thing that stuck straight up so I cut those off with kitchen shears (you’ll see what I mean if you use them).

My father-in-law counted, and we used over TWO THOUSAND M&Ms to cover the reptile. Wooeeee!!! It took Maggie and I about four hours and one bottle of wine to decorate the cake. We took breaks for shopping and lunch. Wouldn’t you?

Dawn, bless her, sent me an illustration and instructions for the dragon’s head. So I opened the image in Photoshop, colored it to my liking, then printed it, cut it out, added colored paper gills, and got it laminated. Used a hole punch on the gills and added red curly ribbon. And used the hole punch again on the mouth and added twisty candles – so when we lit the candles we had a fire-breathing dragon.DSC_8648LR-3

I popped the head illustrations up on Google docs, in case anyone wants to download them and make your own dragon cake (original black and white version here, and colored version here). Just make the head, then lean it up against the cake and the icing will act as glue.

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This cake was the hit of the party. The kids gasped when they saw it, and the parents all grabbed cell phones and posted pics of it on Facebook. Hee. The cake would easily feed a crowd of about a 100 people. We had about 46 people, I cut huge double-size slices, and we ended up with one bundt left.

DSC_8548LR-5Thank you to Dawn for the incredible idea, for sending many pictures, and for answering all of my hundreds of questions. And thank you to my friend Maggie, my right-hand woman and fellow cake decorator, who is always on board with whatever craziness I can conjure up. Mwah!

~~~~~

PS: see also party activities, party decorations

Post 11 of 31 in Oct Daily Life

38 comments:

  1. Wow, wow, wow! Got to do this one for CNY. I know my oldest daughter (age 7) will agree. I bet she'll want to do a trial run too. :)

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  2. AH-mazing! *applaud applaud"

    "I used gummy chicken feet" - totally cracked me up!

    And you cut a toe off - cracks me up some more! :)

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  3. Totally making this for Chinese New Year. I spent part of my adolescence in Taiwan, and would love to celebrate the holiday with the kids I nanny for. This cake and a couple of red envelopes? Can't go wrong!

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  4. That is so awesome! I loved the whole concept. And it cost less than you would have bought for that many people.

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  5. That cake was awesome. I want one for dinner.

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  6. WOW is all i have to say about that cake. just WOW.

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  7. Anonymous10/11/2011

    M3,
    You took that cake to a whole new level with the m&m scales and the gummy "chicken feet"-- what a great idea! You and Maggie really did a fantastic job. Also, it is the perfect cake for the next CNY -- it's going to be the "Year of the Dragon"!
    Congrats on an amazing cake! :)
    Dawn

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  8. Anonymous10/11/2011

    Amazing, simply amazing. How did you keep it hidden from the girls while you made it and from the party attendees when they arrived?

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  9. I am so making one for our CNY party next year! Awesomeness. I think I will try and make a slightly smaller version...that is a whole lotta cake!! Fabulous job MM and Maggie!

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  10. A.MAZE.ING. How are you going to top that next year???

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  11. You make "Cake Boss" look like an amateur! Well done...

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  12. Wow! That is absolutely amazing! My daughter has already put in her order for her birthday next year. You did a fantastic job.

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  13. Oh yeah, now this is getting it RIGHT. I love this party!! I wish my girls loved Mulan as much as I do. I would have never thought of M&Ms and gummy feet. Brilliant. The favor bags are just adorable. Ree and Ro will never forget this birthday...so special.

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  14. Adoptive Mom to 210/11/2011

    WOW! I love it!!! You did an amazing job and make it seem doable for someone who doesn't do cakes anymore. I made one Minnie cake and one lady bug cake and that was it LOL Wonderful job!

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  15. AMAZING. One idea to save money on the M and M's. I needed two colors of M and M's for a party (Red and Blue). I bought GIANT regular bags of M and M's at Costco and some used sterile disposable gloves (I actually "borrowed" these from our doc)to sort. It was a fun activity for my kids (who were just a year older than yours at the time). We covered the table with a newbig plastic table cloth (don't those come in handy!) and then sorted out all the red's and blues making piles of them and then placing in tupperware as they piled up. The girls were old ennough to follow my instructions to use just their index finger when sorting (so the candies were touched very little and wouldn't melt). I think I saved about 100 bucks doing this. And it was a fun activity. I found it very relaxing!

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  16. Anonymous10/11/2011

    It really is wonderful!

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  17. And I just stored the extra m and m's in plastic hefty zipper locks and used them up ourselves over the next few months!

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  18. How blessed you and Tuba Dad are to have these two girls guide you on the journey of your life. And it looks like they have a grand affect on many others around them.

    happy birthday

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  19. The cake and party was absolutely amazing! All I can say is... WOW!

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  20. A-MA-ZING. What else can I say? It is awesome.

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  21. AMAZING, AMAZING, AMAZING!!!! You and Maggie did a GREAT job! We have a travel group reunion dinner at the end of this month and I think I may offer to bring a smaller version of this.

    Way to go M&M!!!

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  22. This cake rocks!
    I wonder if I can tweak this to make a meglafon?

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  23. Absolutely stunning cake! What you both went through to make the cake and party a success is so wonderful for your girls. I LOVE seeing parents make their kids birthdays magical. You did such a great job!!!!

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  24. Anonymous10/11/2011

    It seems mom's get those inspirational ideas at 5:30 in the morning. I'm thinking maggie was way glad you didn't feel the need to call her right then with your 'i have an idea'....

    i'm telling ya, this is how traditions begin...a1

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  25. Great job on the cake it's beyond impressive.

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  26. Anonymous10/12/2011

    Wow.....just wow!!

    Stace

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  27. standing ovation to you on this cake. thanks so much for giving all of the details on how you guys pulled this off. how very cool this would be for cny parties!

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  28. That looks amazing! I keep trying to convince one of my kids to do a Chinese themed party...no takers, not even my daughter from China wants to.

    I just had a thought, I have mini-bundt pans, and i bet you can make little dragons out of those, if someone doesn't want to make such a massive cake. (of course the size is one of the most impressive things about the dragon!)

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  29. Anonymous10/12/2011

    That is awesome. thank you for sharing the info. Laura, PA

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  30. I am SO Pinning this!

    Rock on Cake Goddesses!

    I like Cath's idea of a smaller version...something to think about.

    Keep smilin!

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  31. That cake is gorgeous! I am copying it (with a slight color change to fit our theme) for a dragon party for my 7 year old later in the year. Thank you for the idea!!!

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  32. That cake is AMAZING! Congrats to you for doing it. I wish I was that brave!!

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  33. Anonymous10/13/2011

    Amazing! Thanks for sharing!

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  34. Anonymous10/13/2011

    good job

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  35. That is GORGEOUS!! I wish I had a reason to make one!

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  36. Awesome! My husband saw this and thought you were super cool!

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  37. Wow! That is amazing! Been wondering what kind of cake I could do for Ruby's next bday. Just might try this one out! Incredible! Good job super momma!

    Hope your girls had the best birthday ever!

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