Making a Perry the platypus fondant cake

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My daughter just turned 3 and her favorite character at the moment is Perry the Platypus. A little plush Perry from the Disney store gets carried wherever we go, so we decided Perry would be our birthday theme this year. With a little help from Pinterest we set out to make a Perry the Platypus cake. I hope this serves as a tutorial for someone else.

For the body we started with a Duncan Hines Blue Velvet cake mix, using bread pans instead of cake pans—half of the mix in each. We thought about putting it all in one bread pan, but worried about how it might change the baking time. I’m sure it’s possible, but we tried it as two pieces.

For the tail and bill we used a sugar cookie recipe my wife found online. The dish is a 13×9 Pyrex.
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We divided the cookie into two pieces large enough to do tails.
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The Wilton 13×19 cake board was large enough to do what we needed. The body is about 8.5 inches long, and the overall length turned out to be about 16 inches.
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The tail is longer than the bill, so we put one end of the body about 6 inches from the end of the board.
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With a serrated knife we flattened the top of the first cake layer.
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We stacked the second layer on top of the first without using any icing in between. It seemed stable enough.
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Then the trimming began. I wanted the corners more rounded. The Cutco Petite Carver is my favorite knife for this job. The serrated edge is perfect for trimming without tearing.
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Next came the buttercream icing. I first used a spatula spreader to put it on fairly heavily.
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Next I used a butter knife to smooth it out and get everything evenly covered.
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I next cut the tail shape. It is tapered to be narrower where it joins the body. We had originally worked out the shapes of the tail and bill by drawing on pieces of paper put up to the cake body.
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I rounded the corners at the wide end, and carefully curved the narrow end to match the curve of the body.
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Cut the cookie for the bill.
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Here you can see the tail and bill are curved to nicely fit the body.
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The piece in the middle is going to stack on top of the first. Notice the angles.
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I stacked the other pieces together to get an idea of how it would look. In hindsight I would have spent more time to make the bill smoother, without the stair step look.
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The buttercream icing is intended to cement the pieces of cookie together.
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The pieces are stacked together with buttercream icing.
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Then the bill gets a uniform covering of buttercream icing.
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The fun begins with the fondant. Unfortunately, we took no pictures of this process, but we used the recipe and video on marshmallow-fondant.com. We were happy with how it turned out. Instead of using powder to color the fondant, we used Wilton teal gel icing color. For the teal we added the color right after we microwaved and stirred the marshmallows. This allowed the color to mix quickly and completely. We would get some color on the end of a butter knife and shake it off into the marshmallow mix. We kept adding until we were satisfied with the saturation. At that point we started adding the powdered sugar and completed the process per the instructions on the video. The completed batch of teal fondant was wrapped with plastic wrap and stored in an air-tight container at room temperature for about 24 hours. Letting it sit for a while seems to allow the moisture to distribute even through the fondant. In addition, we made and stored another batch of white fondant.

I put a very thin coating of shortening on the clean countertop in preparation for rolling out the teal fondant.
The Wilton 20-inch fondant rolling pin worked well. I had watched a number of YouTube videos on rolling out fondant that also helped.

I thought the fondant for the bill might be difficult to join to the fondant for the body, so covered both with teal fondant.
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There are plenty of YouTube videos that explain this process. Patience is the key. I worked slowly and was eventually able to get the fondant to smooth completely over the body. The Wilton fondant smoother was a big help. Our butter knives have a squarish handle that I use to do a final smoothing around the bottom edge. I tried not to trim the bottom too short. If you cut it just a tiny bit long, you can use the blade of a butter knife to tuck the edge under the cake.
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I continued trimming around the bill and tucking the edge under.
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It was during this process that I really wished I had spend more time getting the bill more solid and smooth. It ended up bumpier than I had hoped. We were pressed for time so I just went with it. Next time I will also try harder to keep from denting the cake with the butter knife!
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I probably used about half of the white fondant to use for the tail and the bill. It may have been more like two thirds. We used Wilton icing colors again: mostly Buttercup Yellow at the end—maybe a ratio of 10:1. The copper probably would have worked by itself, but we had the yellow and thought it looked good. There are plenty of YouTube videos available that teach how to color fondant.

I placed the orange fondant over the tail with plenty of overlap on the body.
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The handle of the butter knife really helps to smooth the bottom edges.
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The fondant was trimmed and tucked. I made sure not to cut the corners short where the tail meets the body. I wasn’t completely happy with how the tailed joined the body, but I thought I might end up making it look worse if I messed with it too much.
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Lastly, the cross-hatch pattern to complete the tail.
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The process was repeated for the bill, although it took a bit more patience and smoothing.
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With the bill complete it was starting to look like Perry. In the future I will work with better light. There are so many dents and blemishes that I didn’t see while I was working on the cake.
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For the eyes I rolled balls of white fondant maybe an inch in diameter. The dark dots are pre-made black fondant (Wilton). We had tried to mix black several weeks earlier, and it was a messy, time consuming process. It was so much easier to buy it. I stuck the dots on the eyeballs and rolled them a bit more, then flattened them out a bit in preparation for putting on the cake.

I didn’t want to use toothpicks in the cake, so I needed a way to make the eyes stick to the face. A very thin layer of water on the fondant of the eyes works great for this. I lightly pressed an eye in position and with a twisting motion back and forth I got the fondant to join. I then placed a water glass against the eyeball to keep it in place. I think I left the glass there for 5 minutes or so. The eyes stuck very well.
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Again, using a very light layer of water I joined pieces of teal and orange fondant in preparation for making the back legs. As before, I pressed and twisted back and forth until I could feel the friction increasing. This was an indication to me that the fondant was getting sticky and beginning to fuse together. I formed front and back legs and tried to make them match in size.
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Then I started forming the legs. I pressed them flat against the counter top and used a butter knife to press and mold them into shape.
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Again, a very light layer of water was the adhesive for sticking the legs to the body. I applied it with a butter knife and then would wipe most of it off. I wanted just enough water to let the fondant join.
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The final touch was the hairs on the top of Perry’s head. I rolled out very thin strings of black fondant and tapered them at the ends. I tried to make each hair a little different in length. I also noticed the bill needed tucked, so I fixed it.
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There was plenty of cleanup work to do.
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We ended up using two cake boards, just to make sure the cake didn’t crack while it was getting carried around.
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Perry at the party.
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It hurt just a little to cut the cake, but the kids had a great time.
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