Have you ever been asked for a birthday cake that seemed impossible to make? Last year, for his 4th birthday, Q asked me to make him a Darth Maul birthday cake. As I’ve mentioned before, I have discovered that I quite enjoy making fancy cakes for Q’s birthdays. Lightening McQueen was one thing, a least I could find a pan and some ideas for that one. But when he asked for Darth Maul (from Star Wars Episode I), I knew I was in trouble.
I spent the next several weeks trying to find examples of a cake lie this, with absolutely zero success. Seemed as though people just didn’t make them. Anything I’d find was usually a fondant cake with a figurine on top, and there wasn’t really nothing dedicated just to Darth Maul. What was I going to do? Around that time, I started preparing Q that he probably wouldn’t be getting the cake he wanted, and that it might be Darth Vader or R2-D2 instead. Neither of these options was really what he wanted, but I honestly thought that we’d have to go for Plan B.
Still, though, I kept working. I’m not exactly what you’d call an artist. I learned early on that my creative talents lay elsewhere, so I figured that there was NO way that I could draw it just from a picture. A few days before the party, a friend of mine told me that she had a pumpkin carving template of Darth Maul that she could give me. I was overjoyed, but nervous all the same. This still meant that I would have to figure it out all by myself, but now at least I’d have help with his face. I still had a back up plan, of course, and actually went out and bought a Darth Vader cake pan and all the stuff to make him as well, but I was determined that I was going to do this. By this point, although he was still asking for that particular cake, he was pretty resigned to the fact that he wouldn’t be getting one.
The night before the party came. In order to really make it a surprise, I didn’t start doing anything until he went to bed. Which meant that an was getting started, it was 9:00pm. Oof.
First I started by cutting out all of the pieces of the template out. Apparently some people do it so the face looks like its in relief, but I cut each piece like it was part of a puzzle (it totally was). Then I laid it on the sheet cake that I had made, and cooled, to get an idea about placement and spacing. It was all about putting the puzzle back together.
I tried to outline each piece using a toothpick and a sharp paring knife, on the cake, but that didn’t work, so I took a picture of it and then took the pieces off again to frost it. All of the icing was a homemade buttercream that was tinted before I started. The bottom was frosted with the plain white buttercream, as I figured that the actual star of the cake would show up better on a white background than on a cake colored one, if that makes sense.
Next, I replaced all of the pieces back onto the frosted cake to beginning the outline.
Then it was time to begin drawing Darth Maul. I will admit, I was pretty nervous about this part. I put the finest piping nozzle onto a bag of back icing, and began to outline the face. As each piece was outlined, I carefully removed it from the cake with a pair of tweezers.
A word of caution, though, don’t overfill your bag of black icing, because when you get into the finer work on the face, it might spill out the top end without you noticing, because you are concentrating so hard on making it perfect. Or maybe things like that only happen to me, haha.
Once the black outlining was completed, I began to fill the face in with red. A note on the red. If you are tinting your own icing, I strongly recommend getting the No-Taste Red gel colour, as you will need a LOT of it to really achieve the bold, deep red that does Darth Maul justice. Also, I let mine sit in the fridge while I was piping the black in to really let the red colour sit and deepen. Also, be aware that your black may look purple to you (mine did), but it will look black on the cake.
I did everything but the eyes and mouth in red. I had intended to do yellow for the eyes and teeth, but my this time, it was nearly 2:30am, and I was running out of steam and still needed to fix the small problem caused by the spill earlier. I decided to make a cape hood to surround Darth Maul’s face, as he is rarely seen without a hood anyways. Problem solved.
To finish it off, I wrote a message to Q. At 3:30am, the cake was done and so was I.
Although the cake took me 6 1/2 hours to make, it was worth it to see the look on the birthday boy’s face the next day at his party. We had been able to keep it hidden until the moment of the big reveal, and the moment he saw it, the look on his face made every second it took worth it. It was magic.
What is the craziest cake you’ve made?