Make a Beautifully Carved Pumpkin Cake
Photo via Wendy Woo Cakes
Here is how to carve your very own pumpkin cake.
And remember no two pumpkins are alike; so have fun because your pumpkin doesn’t need to be perfect!
1. Choose your pumpkin
It is best to decide what shape you want your pumpkin to be: short and round, tall and thin or somewhere in between. Print a picture about the size you want your pumpkin, to use as a template and basic starting point. You can also just “eye-ball” it if you feel comfortable doing that.
2. Stack your cakes
Fill your cake with icing. Make sure your cake is tall enough to carve, and then place your cake back in the fridge to chill. When carving a cake it is best to carve when it is cold. The icing stays in place and the cake will have less crumb so it will not fall apart or shift while cutting into it.
3. Carve the pumpkin
Place your cut out template against your cake and cut along the lines. This can give you a starting point and help you see the shape you are aiming for.
4. Continue carving
Once you have made your first cuts remove the template and continue around the cake, cutting small pieces off as you go. To get a little more height I used a few of the small peices I cut off the side of the cake and placed them around the outside of the top of the cake. This gives a little more dimension without having to cut into the top of the cake. Cut carefully and cut in small pieces. Don’t try to cut off huge pieces all at once. As you continue practicing it will get easier and you will become faster.
5. Notch the sides
Once you have a round shape it is time to start cutting notches into the sides.
6. Deepen notches
The notches do start at the stem and curve all the way to the bottom, so do not just cut notches out of the sides, but extend them all the way to the stem. We also want our notches to be pretty deep. We want to accentuate the crevices because we will be filling them up with layers if buttercream and fondant later.
7. The crumb coat
Once your cake is carved it is time to crumb coat. Spread a thin layer of buttercream all over the cake, making sure to fill in the crevices. It will be a little difficult to get a smooth clean layer the first time. So, once you have it coated place it in the fridge for about 20 minutes.
8. Add second layer
Remove the cake and add a second thin layer of buttercream. This will give you a nice even coat of buttercream. Place the cake back in the fridge to chill.
9. Cut your board
Once your cake is fully chilled, use scissors to cut the board around the cake to match the shape of the bottom of the pumpkin.
10. Cover in Fondant
Roll out your pre-colored fondant. It should be thin: about 1/8 inch.
11. Cover the cake
Cover the cake with the orange fondant, as you gently press it into the crevices. The fondant will stretch, but be careful not to let it stretch too far and rip. Start at the top and carefully work your way around and down the cake. Once you reach the bottom continue to fluff the skirt.
12. Remove excess fondant
Cut off excess fondant about 2 inches away from the cake.
13. Press fondant around bottom
Use a fondant tool to press the fondant along the bottom to the cake board. Work your way around the cake to remove all the extra fondant and to tuck under the fondant to reach the edge of the cake board underneath.
14. Painting the pumpkin
Now it’s time to give life and texture to the pumpkin. I used a mixture of peach, orange and ivory food coloring mixed with lemon extract to paint my pumpkin. Don’t worry: the lemon flavor evaporates. You can also use vodka. This is a great time to use an airbrush if you have one; but I kind of like the rustic look that can be achieved with a paint brush.
15. Begin with darker coloring
When painting with food coloring, a little goes a long way, so be careful not to overdo it. Start with a slightly darker orange by mixing orange and ivory with lemon extract.
16. Paint inside the crevices
This will help give shadow to those areas.
17. Then lighten the color
Now, it’s time to lighten your color (by adding more lemon extract) in order to paint the entire surface of the cake. Use a fan brush to blend the colors together.
18. Make the stem
To make the stem it is best to use modeling chocolate. Simply roll out the modeling chocolate to the height and width you want, with one end slightly tapered. Then pinch pieces on the larger end so they poke out in different directions. Place the stem on the pumpkin in one piece.
If making this pumpkin cake has tempted you to create even more sculpted sensations, be sure to check out Cake-osaurus Rex: Basic Cake Sculpting with Catherine Ruehle, as well as Basic Fondant Techniques with Elisa Strauss.