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.
We divided the cookie into two pieces large enough to do tails.
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.
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.
Next came the buttercream icing. I first used a spatula spreader to put it on fairly heavily.
The buttercream icing is intended to cement the pieces of cookie together.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.