This cake was created for my co-worker’s birthday in March. The idea I was going for was a fashion/fashionista inspired cake, but I wasn’t entirely sure which angle to take that from in the initial planning. In light of the couple days I had to create the cake, I decided that it was better to do something that didn’t require many decorations that would need to dry. I also didn’t want to “cop-out” and do a single or double tiered cake because only a few months earlier I created the “Horse Mascot Cake” for my boss, and this had to at least rival that complexity. I would say that, with the reaction that I got when I brought the cake to work, “mission accomplished.” I also had a completely unexpected experience happened because of it that I share with you at the end, be sure to take a look!
I was very happy with the outcome of this cake, but let me walk you through it…
I finalized the idea to do a Michael Kors bag for the cake design because it was a simple structure and my co-worker loves this designer. I then did some research on different bag designs trying to find one that had the look I was going for. Once I found the image I started baking.
Since I am not commercially baking cakes, I always like to try different recipes and fillings when I am making them as gifts. For this cake I tried a vanilla pound cake recipe with a royal icing filling. I also wanted to be an efficient as possible with my carving, so I used loaf pans to bake the cake since that would be the perfect shape for the final structure of the bag. After baking, of course, I cooled and froze the cakes and made the filling. The next day I filled and stacked the cake and prepared for the decorating.
I basically spent 11 hours straight working on the assembly of this MK bag cake. Once all the layers were filled and crumb coated I stuck it back in the fridge and began coloring my fondant for the exterior of the bag. Be sure to color test on a small piece of fondant before coloring your whole batch.. once color is added, you can’t take it away without a lot of extra uncolored fondant. I rolled my fondant out to the size of my mat, almost a 24″x24″ square. I cut this in half so that I could more easily manage the fondant - this was also ok because I needed a side seam anyway. With some help, I picked up one half of the fondant and began applying it to a slightly moistened crumb coat of my cake.
It was OK to let the fondant sag a little, so that I could get that realistic “relaxed leather” look. The hardest part was not letting it sag too much and end up ripping! Lining up the side seam was also a little bit of a challenge surprisingly probably because my width measurements and applying it were a little off. I was able to remedy this problem by paying closer attention to the second side application and covering any imperfect seams with the scarf.
To keep the top rim from staying up past the top of the cake a little (to give it that 3-D look) I used saran wrap bundles to support it while it dried. *TIP: use a pin to smooth out air bubbles… this is another detail that I should have been more aware of to give a smoother finish to the bag’s exterior.
In making the “MK” I first blended the correct hue of tan that I needed using a TINY bit of red-blue-yellow gel. I used two different sized cutters (one being a plastic cup) to make the outer ring. Then I rolled out the fondant about 1/8″ thick and used an exacto knife to cut out the M andK letters. Once those elements were cut out I placed them in the center of the circle and connected the four corners where it met the ring. I set this feature aside to harden its form a little it before putting it on the cake. TIP: Definitely make this a couple days in advance because then it will keep a rigid shape and mimic the metal emblem more closely, rather than having to “glue” the wholering on the cake for support. On the final image it is a little “bent.”
To create the buckles I used a pizza cutter and the exacto knife, cut out squares and adhered them to the cake with a little water. For the straps, I added a little more blue to the fondant to darken the leather, rolled in out thin, and pizza cut long strips – tapering the ends. To create the stitching look I used a Wilton embosser wheel along the edges of both sides. I then took these strips an wrapped the tapered ends around the tops of the buckles and dropped the straps in a casual manner to the sides. *TIP: What I realized after I attached the straps was that I did it the opposite way – the ends should be connected on the front and back separately – not on the side and side. I figured this out when the straps were not laying properly as I had expected when I imagined it. I wanted them to cross over the center of the bag more, but it kept looking weird, so I had to just hang them to the sides. Pay attention to the details! *TIP: use saran wrap bundles to support the arches of the straps as it s drying. Leave these in for as long as possible… at least 12 hours!
I thought that I really messed this guy up at the 11th hour when I added the scarf. *TIP: DON’T GIVE OUT IN THE FINAL STRETCH!! In creating the scarf, I was going for a colorful, complimentary, “paisley-esque” design. I didn’t have that much fondant left over (anothereffect of residential cake designing) and I didn’t feel like making more when 10pm rolled around. I decided to use all of the leftover colors that I had, which meant a spring medley of pink, salmon and yellow. I rolled all of these colors out pizza cut them into strips and then laid them next to each other, overlapping the sides just a little bit, in a pattern and rolled it all together with the rollin pin.
Once I had a combined thicker strip I used the pizza cutter to fray the ends of it like tassels. I thought I ruined it because the color scheme seemed too similar to the bag (I REALLY wanted to have a white, hunter green and royal blue real paisley design instead). Lay the scarf in a tattered arrangement on top and squeezed inside the bag to give it a more realistic effect. Remember to also use the saran wrap to give it more dynamic body.
In light of time restraints and a fume level of energy after hour 10, I decided to minimize the roping detail 1. because you couldn’t see it wrapping around under the scarf any way and 2. because, on authoritative decision, I thought it would just take away from the overall design anyway. For the roping I rolled out the fondant between my hands making sure tokeep it even and about 1/4″ thick. I laid the two rolls on a powdered sugar surface and then used the back of a butter knife to hash mark a roping effect to the front and sides. I also used the pizza cutter again and carefully stripped one end into a tassel. I kept these features around 10″ long and flattened the other end slightly to be hidden into the slits that I cut in the bag. *NOTE: the tassels will stretch downward if they do not have enough time to harden before application. If they are too heavy they could even break off and that would be terrible, so I would suggest giving them some time to dry before applying. If they stretch a little after application then you can either leave it (like I did), or you can cut them shorter again. I used water to also attach these elements, but if you need more support then use a little icing. Finally, I cut two rectangles about 3/4″ x 1.25″ out of the lighter colored tan fondant, “stiched” the outer edges and placed it over the roping attaching it on the sides tucked under the roping and pushed a crease in the center to separate the ropes. Repeat this element again about two inches just before the tassel’s start.
Overall, I was very happy with the outcome. Next time I may try to give it even more dimension with some air brushing. I would also try to create a more intricate and bold scarf, and I would make the “MK” detail in advance so that it dried rigidly circular before application. This was one of my favorite cakes to make thus far; it was challenging, yet “simple,” which allowed my to really create something to be proud of.