Feb 2, 2009

Fire Helmet Cake Brim

This is part 2 of a 4 part series on how I made the chief's fire helmet cake. Before I begin, it's only fair to point out that I had the luxury of having a real helmet (an old helmet of hubby's in our garage) to take measurements and use for drawing (scrolls)references. The one on the left is a pretty good picture of the back of the brim and the scroll work (just so you know what the heck I'm talking about). It took me awhile to figure out how to do the embossing. All of the fire helmet cake pics I found on the Internet either didn't have it at all, or they just piped royal icing using a writer tip on top of the brim after the assembly of the cake. I'm glad that I took the time to really think it through because the end results were very realistic. (at least I think so) So here's how I did it:

The first thing I did was trace around the brim on a piece of poster board and cut out the shape. Then I cut a piece of 2" thick Styrofoam to match the size and shape of the brim oval. (I used the poster board again later) Using my handy dandy electric carving knife (a trick I learned on DIY lol), I carved a slight dip in the front and a little bit steeper slope in the back of the form so that they would resemble a real helmet brim (uhm, best to do this step in the garage or outside, it gets a little messy). I double wrapped the entire Styrofoam base completely with press and seal wrap, taping it underneath for further assurance that it wouldn't slip. I gave it a good generous dusting of cornstarch and set it to the side.

For the embossing on the brim, I made a pattern for the brim out of cake board (using the poster board pattern) and with a pencil (free handed) drew the scrolling onto the cake board. Notice the vertical and horizontal lines, those were used as reference points for the drawing and placement of the scrolls. (I also used it later during the cake assembly for reference points for the top bowl of the helmet) I then covered it with a double layer of plastic wrap and taped it down to the work surface. I used rolled pieces of fondant, shaping a small section at a time, working my way around the brim. (remember making play dough worms when you were a kid?) I let that dry for a couple of hours (a much needed break) so that they hardened and wouldn't loose their shape after I applied the somewhat (heavy) fondant brim. (that ended up being an excellent plan btw) Meanwhile, I rolled out the large piece of fondant for the brim to about 1/4" thick and a little larger than the cake board. I covered the brim-fondant with plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out and to keep it soft while I prepared the scrolls for the transfer. I slightly dampened each scroll with a small brush dipped in water, dabbed on a paper towel (too much water would melt them) before applying the top piece of fondant to ensure that the scrolls would "stick" to the underneath side of the brim.

Ready? Take a deep breath (I did). Using a large fondant rolling pin, I lightly rolled the large fondant piece onto itself (similar to how you transfer a pie crust to a pie pan) I then transferred the fondant onto the scrolls. (I'm going from left to right because, well, I'm left handed ;) )
Working quickly, and with dry fingertips (I always dust my hands with cornstarch so the fondant doesn't stick to ME), I smoothed around the scrolls then I went back over them and used a fondant smoothing tool to define them. I trimmed the excess fondant using a pizza wheel, using the cake board as my guide. I then trimmed around the entire brim with about a 1" strip of fondant (half inch on top and half folded under the bottom, all the way around) However, I learned by doing a second fire helmet cake that it is easier to cut the brim about a half inch wider than the cake board all the way around and then just "roll" the edges inward creating the ridge. (see, this is why you should read my blog, to avoid the mistakes I've made LOL)

Using the corners of the saran wrap, I slid the brim onto the Styrofoam form. You don't want to take too long else the fondant will start to dry out and it will crack during the transfer. (any guesses as to how I know this? LOL) Once it was safely into place, I used a flour sack towel to give the "ridge" some texture. However, styles of helmets vary and on the black helmet cake that I did, I used a clean fine nutmeg grater for the texture. Next, I used curled up 4x6 index cards for the slightly raised sides of the brim. (I just slid them underneath the saran wrap. Placed in a cool dry area to allow to dry and harden for about 1 week. (the hardest part was hiding this from my hubby until the surprise party LOL)

Although I made the brim about 1 week prior to the cake assembly, in hindsight, I would have made it first, giving it plenty of time to dry. (a full two weeks) It did crack a bit around the trim but I was able to repair it ok once I assembled the cake. In fact, the second (black) helmet that I made I did just that. I made it a full 2 1/2 weeks ahead of cake assembly day and I stored it in one of those big plastic under the bed containers (a clean empty one of course) I left it on my desk with the lid propped open to allow for good air flow. On cake assembly day, I grabbed the top two corners of the saran wrap and wiggled it under itself and gently pulled (peeled?) it from underneath the brim to remove it. Because I had dusted the press and seal wrapped foam with cornstarch, when it was time to transfer it to the cake the brim slid right off.

Part 1- Fire Chief's Helmet Cake
Part 2- Fire Helmet Cake Brim
Part 3- Fire Helmet Cake Eagle
Part 4- Fire Helmet Cake Shield & Bugles

1 comment:

thetreehousebakery said...

Love love love this cake! You are amazing! My husband is a firefighter and I'm making his chiefs retirement cake. SCARY! My husband forgot to bring his helmet home and I was wondering what the dementions are for the brim? Thank you!