According to CSTM’s readers choice, the next cake challenge was to make a cake evoking the swan boats of Lothlorien. According to Tolkien, Lady Galadriel and the elves of the Golden Woods are using these to sail the Anduin. It is then no surprise we see those beautiful piece of art in the game as well. Here’s the final result, based o the design we can admire in-game, but adapted to be an actual cake!
First step of every cake is always to do a little bit of research on the object you want to make. Here I based my design on a picture of the in-game item as we see in in Lothlorien.
Of course making the exact same object in cake would be much more complicated than what my skills would allow me to do. Instead, I decided to make a cake ‘’inspired by’’. That means you get to choose which are the features that makes this object special and those are going to be the details you’ll be focusing on when making your cake.
Making a swan neck was my first attempt at using a large fondant only accessory with a cake. The head and neck pictured bellow are made entirely out of fondant, and I let it dry for a week before using it. (If you remember the Child’s Play cake, I did not let the One Ring dry enough, so it was all wiggly.)
After a week, it was hard enough to stand on its own. However the inside was still soft, so I was able to pierce it with bamboo sticks.
Note that the neck ended up falling in pieces after a couple of days standing up. Next time, I’ll try to use gum paste, which is supposed to dry harder, to make similar pieces for the cakes.
I made two 8×8 cakes, but ended up using only one cut in half lengthwise. I chose to make a simple yellow cake. It’s a fairly small cake compared to the ones I did previously!
Carving and buttercream
Piercing the swan neck with a bamboo stick, I wanted to integrate the neck to the cake so it would hold in place. With heavy pieces like the neck, try to use very long stick that goes all through the cake so be sure you’ll get enough support. Here it worked very well!
I completed the cake by pilling up the other half of the cake over the first one, putting buttercream between each layer.
Finally, cover the entire cake with buttercream! At this point you should get the final shape your cake will have when decorated.
I made my own fondant again for this cake, keeping it white as it is naturally. I covered my cake with it and made a rough cut around the neck.
Next I decided to mimic the layered wings on each side of the boat. I thought that was the second element that characterized the boats.
I draw three different pieces on paper, cut them out and used them as models to make a pair of each in fondant.
I fixed them to the boat by using the same water melting technique I used for the neck.
Another distinctive feature of the swan boats where the subtle but omnipresent carving embroideries it had everywhere. I also wanted to include some light-blue somewhere in the cake. My first idea was to pipe blue and white buttercream on the cake to mimic those carvings.
I think that idea turned out absolutely terrible. I felt like my swan was wearing a cheap wedding dress directly imported from the 80’s. The good thing about piping buttercream, is that you can take it all away when accidents like that happens.
So after I cleaned up my mess, I tried another technique to create both the carving and the blue color on the cake. The first step was to paint light blue areas on the cake with blue food color gel diluted in water.
- Than I piped some white carving over the light-blue areas. Much better in my opinion!
There was a few other details that I wanted to include in order to be more true to my inspiration.
The first was some kind of tent to put at the back of the boat to protect the passengers. I didn’t know how to make it look like lace, so I chose to make it plain, and decorate it like the rest of the boat instead.
To make the tent, I used a tin can for the shape and made it out of fondant. I also made it dry for a week before moving it, that way it would stand on its own. That piece did dry out perfectly.
Finally, I painted some bamboo stick in white to make paddles and used a small piece of fondant as a lantern.
In the end, I think the Swan Boat turned out to be a fun and nice cake!
Ps: Sorry I took all the pictures by night, I think the cake looked much better by day!