In keeping with our fondant cake-making birthday tradition, this year we decided on a zebra cake for our safari theme.
We wanted more than an abstract zebra pattern, but didn’t want to do a full zebra body. I had the idea of doing just the head in a fun cartoon style. After several sketches, this is the one I settled on:
We were in a big hurry to get things done last night so, unfortunately, we didn’t get any pictures of the process. I’ll do my best to describe what we did.
A 9×13 pan makes a cake about 8×12, and we made 2 of these. On a 13×19 cardboard cake board we stacked the 2 layers of cake with buttercream frosting in between. To do this I used a pattern I had created for positioning the cake on the board.
Then I printed and cut out another pattern that I would use as a guide for cutting the cake to the shape of the zebra head.
The head is longer than 12 inches, so I used a section cut-away section next to the face to finish the snout (see the pattern). Once the outline was cut, I trimmed and shaped the head to give it a bit of dimension. Then I covered it with buttercream frosting and tried to make it as smooth as possible in preparation for the fondant. I rolled out the white fondant and covered the entire cake. When the white fondant was completely smoothed and trimmed I started on the snout, eyes, and stripes.
We bought Wilton black fondant because it’s so much faster than trying to mix it by hand. I rolled out the fondant and cut out the pieces without really measuring. I was looking at my pattern, but I didn’t worry if I didn’t get the stripes exactly the same as my pattern.
I did the nose first, and most of the cuts were done with scissors. Some were also done with a sharp paring knife. I made sure I created a nice arc for the top of the snout, and left enough to drape down the sides. Once the nose was done I created the eyes. I started with dark circles cut with scissors. I had to keep cutting them down until the sizes were right. Then came white circles with small dots of black rolled into it them finish the eyes. I purposely made them different sizes.
To stick the black fondant pieces to the cake I used a very small amount of water wiped on the back. Black fondant runs like mascara if you get too much water on it, or if it shifts, so be careful. I fixed some minor mistakes with a damp paper towel, but I tried really hard not to mess up.
I would cut the pieces and test fit them first. Then I would adhere them and make sure they were attached well before moving to the next piece. For long strips I would adhere one end first, and then finish it a bit later by adhering the rest.
When the eyes were done I did the stripes that touch the eyes, and the little stripe between the eyes. Once these were in place I did the other stripes. Lastly, I did the stripes for the ears. The squarish circles, cut with scissors, give some dimension t the otherwise boring nose. The mane is done with a squarish block of fondant, shaped with multiple spikes at one end, and stacked on top with more spiked pieces of fondant. I had planned to use licorice, but this worked out better. Here is how it turned out:
To finish it we used 3 shades of green to cut large blades of grass. We started at the top and used double-stick tape to attach the grass to the board. A tape gun really helps. This is the final product: