Friday, October 5, 2012

Frankenweenie "Sparky" Cake


The new Frankenweenie movie is in theaters today (!) so I'm celebrating this happy occasion with a funny little Sparky cake!

I can remember watching the original version of this movie when I was nine years old. That was way back in 1984, but the story still tugs at my heartstrings today. Tim Burton based the film on the relationship he had with his first dog (aw!) and the personal feel really shines through. Most every pet owner will be able to relate to the love that young Victor Frankenstein has for his dog, Sparky. I certainly saw myself and my first dog (a scruffy mutt/chihuahua named Danger) in the story. 

I can't wait to see the new movie in all its black and white stop-motion-3-D glory! The new puppet incarnation of Sparky captured my heart with his expressive face and little nubbin-nose. I so wanted to create my own Sparky.  And I did.

It's aliiiive!

(Okay, I'll stop.)


I really loved sculpting little Sparky, and if you'd like to try your hand at making him I've got plenty of step-by-step photos to guide you.  If you're interested in sculpting for cakes in general, my book has a section completely dedicated to explaining sculpting fundamentals:  armature, modeling, manipulating... I really get geeky on the subject.

The interior of the cake had to be Frankenweenie green!  This was achieved by using a  white cake batter along with a .3 oz bottle of neon green food coloring and a little kelly green gel from Wilton.


Make Sparky:
1 pack of gum paste (pastillage)
Clear vegetable shortening
Black gel food coloring
2 white sixlets candies
Sugar sticks (like toothpicks) made from rolled gum paste
Fine tipped artists' brushes
Plastic drinking straw

Note: Plan ahead. Make gum-paste sugar sticks by rolling gum paste into long thin toothpick-like sticks and allow to dry 24 hours before using.  Make about 10-12 in an assortment of sizes.


1. Knead a little vegetable shortening into about 1/2 cup of gumpaste until pliable. Tint with a dot or two of black gel food coloring.
2. Slice off about 1/3 of kneaded paste and form into a long teardrop shape. This will be Sparky's head. Press two Sixlets into the gum paste about 2-inches down from the rounded top.
3. Remove the Sixlets and paint a little black gel food coloring around the eye-holes. Allow to dry slightly.
4. Re-insert the Sixlets candies into the eye holes.
5. Roll another 1/3 of the gum paste into a ball for Sparky's body. Press 2-4 long sugar sticks into the ball allowing 3/4-inch of the sugar sticks to stick out of the gum paste ball.
6.  Press the head onto the sugar sticks gently but firmly. Be careful not to squish the head when you do this. Adjust the head and re-position as necessary.
7.  Tint a quarter-size ball of gum paste black with the gel food coloring. Press a small piece onto the tip of a sugar stick.
8. Gently insert into the tip of the tapered/pointed end of the head.
9. Fashion two triangular shaped ears from the black paste and press into two short sugar sticks. Press into the top of the head piece, leaving plenty of room for the eyebrows that will be attached later.
10. Roll out two skinny pieces of grey paste and taper the ends. Cut them to appropriate length for two arms/front legs. Shape and press into the body using two short sugar sticks as connectors. You could also use corn syrup to adhere if you find the sticks to be too tedious.  Make two more shorter pieces for back legs in the same manner as before.
I used a Lazy Susan for easy 360° turning.
11. Attach the legs to the body using two short sugar sticks.
12. Fashion a tail from the black gum paste and press onto a sugar stick. Affix to lower back portion of the bum paste/body ball.
13. Roll a piece of white gum paste flat and cut into a square. Roll scraps of black paste together and roll flat. Cut rounds of black gum paste using the plastic drinking straw. Press black circles onto the white square. They should adhere unless your gum paste is too dry. In this case you may attach them with a little shortening or corn syrup. Adhere square to Sparky's back/above the tail. Use corn syrup or shortening as an adhesive if it doesn't stick naturally. Cut two thick black paste circles for sparky's neck bolts. Press them into sugar sticks and then press them into Sparky's neck on either side of the head.
14. Fashion two small pieces of black gum paste into eyebrows and affix over the Sixlets eyes.  Using a very fine tipped brush (the smallest you can find!) paint pupils onto the Sixlets eyes using undiluted black gel food coloring. Using the same brush, paint on stitching details on and around the arms, on the head and legs and around the tail.  Also paint stitching around the polka-dot patch on his back.
15. Allow brush-work to dry.  Gently manipulate and finesse clay if some parts have become misshapen during assembly.


The graveyard sculptures were made from extra pieces of gray gumpaste. Most of them were unplanned and randomly made so I don't have a tutorial for them.  I did try to make Sparky's tombstone much like the one in the movie. I drew the lettering with the end of a toothpick.


I really love - and can relate to- Tim Burton's dark-is beautiful stories and visuals.  The grey scale really adds to the drama of the film - and to this cake! This was a really fun project and a perfect celebration centerpiece for Halloween!


Frankenweenie "Sparky" Cake
Note: I used rolled fondant on this cake.  If you’re not adept with this covering, feel free to double the frosting recipe and ice the cake in white buttercream.
                                                                                                                    [click for printable version]
Green cake: 
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
6 egg whites
3/4 cup whole milk
.3 oz bottle neon liquid green food coloring
1/4 teaspoon Wilton kelly green gel food coloring
  1. You’ll need two 8 or 9-inch round cake pans, greased and the bottoms lined with parchment.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl, mixing well.
  4. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until very soft and lightened in color.  Beat in vanilla.
  5. Whisk together the egg whites and milk in a medium mixing bowl until just combined.
  6. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in one-quarter of the flour mixture, then one-third of the milk mixture, stopping and scraping down the bowl and beater after each addition. Beat in another quarter of the flour, then another third of the milk mixture. Scrape again. Repeat with another quarter of the flour and the remaining milk mixture; scrape.  Beat in the remaining flour mixture.
  7. Scrape the bowl well with a large rubber spatula. Add food coloring and mix again until consistently green. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the tops.
  8. Bake the layers for about 30 to 35 minutes, until they are well risen and spring back when pressed in the center. Cool the layers in the pans on racks for 5 minutes, then turn out onto racks to cool completely.

Buttercream frosting:
1 1/2 cups of unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners’ sugar - the finest you can find (usually 10x)
1 tsp.  clear vanilla extract
1 drop black food coloring
* Milk or heavy cream, optional
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, mix together the butter and confectioners sugar.  Begin mixing on low speed until crumbly, and then increase to high and beat for 3 minutes.
  2. Add vanilla  and beat again for another minute until light and fluffy. 
  3. *Note: If you find the buttercream is too stiff, you may add milk or heavy cream 1 tablespoon at a time until the mixture is spreading consistency.
  4. Fill cake with about ¾ cup of plain white frosting, then crumb-coat with a thin layer. Refrigerate until ready to decorate.  Tint remaining frosting with the drop of black food coloring and transfer half to a piping bag fitted with a triple star decorator tip (#2010) or grass piping tip. Transfer the other half to a piping bag fitted with a single star tip (2D)

Assembly:
1 lb. white ready-made fondant
Black gel food coloring
1 Sparky sculpture
A variety of small tombstones for the pet cemetery
Stone pattern candy mold (optional)
Edible black glitter
  1. Knead fondant well on a lightly powdered sugared surface and roll out ¾ lb. to about ¼” thickness.   Cover cake and trim edges.  Smooth fondant surface with spotlessly clean hands or fondant smoothers if you have them. Transfer cake to a cake stand or serving platter.
  2. Tint about ¼ cup of the remaining fondant dark grey with the black gel coloring.  Add coloring a little at a time until the correct color is achieved.   Press a long piece of the dark grey fondant into the stone pattern candy mold and remove.  Use a knife to tidy the edges and create a long 8-inch  “sidewalk “ or walkway that will go across the middle of the cake. Set aside.
  3. Make a small “hill” using some of the remaining fondant and place it on top of the cake- position it towards the side that you choose to be the back of the cake.  Gently lay the sidewalk across the front third of the cake (see picture).
  4. Cover the entire hill and the edge of the sidewalk closest to the hill with the grey buttercream in the bag fitted with the triple star piping tip (or the grass piping tip that I wish I’d had).
  5. Place tombstones on and around the “grassy’ buttercream hill.  If the tombstones you've made are large, you may want to secure them with a wooden skewer or gum paste stick. Place Sparky on the fondant walkway.
  6. Use the buttercream in the bag fitted with the single star tip to edge the bottom of the cake.
  7. Sprinkle entire cake with black glitter.
  8. Serve to delighted guests.

Supplies for this cake:

Wilton Ready To Use Gum Paste
AmeriColor Gel Paste - Super Black
Stone pattern candy mold.
Wilton Decorating Tip: #2010 Triple Star
WILTON LG DROP FLOWER TIP#2D 402-2004
White Sixlets Candy 1LB Bag
Neon Purple Green Pink Blue 4-pack Food Color
Wilton Kelly Green Icing Color
Rolled Fondant, 2 Lb White, Buttercream Flavor
EDIBLE GLITTER BLACK1/4 OZ. BOTTLE



97 comments:

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Wow, I love it! I wish somebody could make me such a beauty. It would make a great birthday cake too...

Cheers,

Rosa

Mary said...

i love it!!!

Aubree @ Macarons and Stilettos said...

OMG this is amazing! I love this cake. You are so talented! I can't wait to see this movie :)
xo

Hannah Grunzke said...

I can't wait to show your photos of this cake to my kids...We are equally huge fans of you and Burton and have a date for tomorrow's matinee!

chandel314 said...

i can only say one thing, WOW!

Annie @ Annie's Noms said...

Wow this is AMAZING!!! :D

JulieD said...

Wow, he's so cute!!!!

Cindy said...

wow! amazing and so sweet/spooky!

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar said...

You rock my world with every post. For real - I'm FLOORED!

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOSH!!!! THAT IS AN AWSOME CAKE YOU ARE SO TALENTED!!!! WOW THAT CAKE AND YOU DESREVE AN AWARD!!!! NICE JOB!!!

Cookbook Queen said...

I am in LOVE with this cake.

LOVE.

Is it weird that i just want to sit and look at it all day??

Kelsey said...

This is absolutely perfect in every way. WOW!

Jennifer @ Not Your Momma's Cookie said...

I love this! So awesome.

Beki said...

What a super fun cake!! I definitely need to try this cake out. Thank you for being amazing!

jamie @ green beans and grapefruit said...

WOW WOW WOW!!!!!

Pam said...

I love and want this cake. I loved the original Frankenweenie too. Sparky was inspired by Tim Burton's Bull Terrier which are wonderful dogs. I have a Bully named Olive and I also had a Bully years ago named Bullitt. What a special cake.

lornalove said...

OH MY GOSH!!!!!!!!!
Heather I am in complete AWE!
You amaze me everytime.

Eidilia Thomas said...

This is truly awesome but please tell me I don't need 61 egg whites! Typo?

SprinkleBakes said...

Hahahah! Now that's a scary cake! You just need 6. Thanks for the heads up!

xo
H

playfulpantry said...

You are my hero!

Becca said...

Oh my goodness. This is one of the coolest cakes I have ever seen. If only I had the time I would try (maybe) to attempt making this cake. The neon color looks awesome! I really need to stop saying how amazing this cake looks, even though it is.

One more time: fantabulously amazing cake!

Lynna said...

This is simply ADORABLE ♥ loving it! This is perfect for the movie and halloween!

SuzyMcQ said...

My most favorite cake, ever, Heather! I love everything about it, especially the story......beautifully done, as always, but so, so special!

glasgefluester said...

whow! Heather, i can´t belive it- this is so gerogiousfunnyscaryyummielooking!
Thanks for showing us!
smiles from germany!

thejoyofcaking said...

I love it! So creative, and I can't even begin to imagine how much time it took you to make this cake Heather.

Erin @ Dinners, Dishes, and Desserts said...

This is just so amazing!! I love all the details, it is just so perfect!

Sarah said...

That cake is AWESOME.

Hannah Alyse said...

This is fabulous!! I loved the old Frankenweenie movie as a kid! I can't wait to see this one and now I really want to throw a party with this great cake :) You are too good!

Jesi said...

Absolutely beautiful! The details are amazing, and you make it sound easy, which I know it is not. Another fabulous creation. :)

Alma said...

I love it. The CUTEST thing ever. Awwwwwwwwwwww

Leslie said...

AMAZING!!!!

Agos said...

That is SO beautiful! I love the color on the cake.

yumanddone said...

This is amazing. I am in awe of how much (edible) detail you were able to capture. The bright green is perfect. Just yes.

glutenfreehappytummy.com said...

how cute! i love the surprise of green!

Yaneri said...

Holy Canoli!!! This is so freakin awesome!!! So spectacular!!! 2 Thumbs UP!!! Wooot wooot!! And SUPER SUPER Duuuuper LIKE!!!!

Yaneri
www.facebook.com/pages/Sweet-Bakes-Of-Mine-By-Yaneri-Rodr...

Anonymous said...

This is AMAZING. I love it so much!!!

Lindsey @ Hot Polka Dot said...

You are a genius! That is all. :)

Sue said...

I love the green! You did an excellent job on Sparky! BTW, that was my husband's nickname in high school:)

adriana said...

This is so fantastic!!! I subscribe and when I opened the email, I saw the cake and it sooo made me smile. Love it!!

Mascha Caja said...

I really love your work. Where others are too busy to fit in with their standard cakes (of course there are a few exceptions) You are you. And you are great for who you are and what you stand for.

An admirer.

wallflourgirl said...

I never knew there was an original version of the movie--but I'm loving this cake!! Disneyland had special exhibits for Frankenweenie and actually *just* got back from seeing them--a feature preview and an entire exhibit on the artwork/displays! I wish I could show you--I have them all uploaded but am not quite sure how to let you see them...they certainly were amazing, though!

tomateninsel said...

Amazing!!!

SreeBindu said...

scary and cakey :)
xx

good times tora said...

this is beyond awesome. It looks like a black and white picture that you've edited the colour in for just the cake. amazing!

Elizabeth@ Food Ramblings said...

This is the coolest thing I have ever seen!

The BearFoot Baker said...

This cake would make Tim Burton proud! You totally captured Sparky! I love, love, LOVE your photos! You are a super star!

Monica said...

Talent! Talent! The cake is awesome and the black and white photo lighting with the green jumping out amazing.

Me said...

... you are amazing!

Danielle said...

That is beyond adorable! Love that the inside is green too. We just went to the midnight opening of the movie and it was soooo good!

Jodie said...

I work in a cinema, and frequently bring in cupcakes or cakes that have a movie theme. Frankenweenie is yet to be released in Australia, but that gives me plenty of time to perfect Frankenweenie. Thanks for the inspiration

Heather said...

This is FABULOUS! Wow, Heather!

Anonymous said...

That is adorable you're so talented

Cinnamon and Thyme said...

Awesome!! So original :).

Liz said...

Seeing this confection seriously made my day. I absolutely love Tim Burton and I absolutely adore Sparky! I can't wait to see the film and man, I would love this for my birthday cake this year! SO COOL! Thank you!

Colette Just for Foodies said...

OMG he's SO cute!

Natalie said...

Absolutely gorgeous! Love the green & grey contrast... you definitely make grey cakes look good - I've seen some very unappetizing ones :S

Brandy said...

I just love this cake! I took my daughter to see the movie this past weekend and she love it! Thanks for such a great tutorial I can't wait to make this cake!

Anonymous said...

Sooo cute!

Mrs. Dixon said...

This is awesome!!!

Larissa said...

WWWOOOOOOAAAAAHHHHHHH!!! This cake totally made my day! I too cannot wait to see this new movie, so stoked. This cake is just perfect, I am so inspired! Totally want to have a movie premier party with this cake. Fabulous job!

Jodie said...

Perfect!

Anonymous said...

OH MY GOD I LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!! You are an artist!!! Woooowwww

Anonymous said...

AMAAAAAZING cake! I love it so much. Little Sparky just pulls at my heart strings. Another masterpiece! Congrats!

Becs @ Lay the table said...

This. Is. Amazing!

Anonymous said...

Love it!

Alma said...

Amazing! I love it. It's a perfect cake. :)

Clear Pink said...

That is amazing.
My kids are dying to see the movie. Perhaps I will make a night of it and take them and then surprise them with a cake.

Kelly said...

Awesome! Inspired by this cake, I think I'm going to try neon green cupcakes with black/white icing this year. I love the BRIGHT surprise color!

Christina Main said...

OK...this IS AWESOME!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!

Jenn @ Icing on the Cake said...

Wow. Just wow.

Jennifer said...

This is so great! Thank you for posting. I absolutely love your blog - and your books!

piccoLINA said...

This cake is so...spooky! Wonderful!
It's perfect!
Great.

Paola

Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel said...

This cake is simply incredible, Heather!! I love my little TV-watching doggy, Mannie, and whenever the preview of this comes on he barks and I'll say "FRANKENWEENIE!" in a high-pitched voice that makes him happy. This cake is so beautiful!

cquek said...

really inspired with the pictures!!!! So beautiful all of them

Heather said...

Heather! This cake is AMAZING!!! And so cool! My 3-year old niece is dying to see this movie.... Why?? No clue - but it's a resounding "I don't freaking think so!!!" from her Mom and Dad (and even her super-awesome Aunty!) when she begs to go see it.

PS - you are incredible!

tisha said...

Estupendamente maravilloso, se mas de una persona a la cual le encantarĂ­a este pastel,,, eres fabulosa y estupenda al crearlo¡¡¡
Muchos saludos y anotandome como una seguidora mas : )

Li @ Words & Cake said...

I haven't seen the movie, but I love this cake! I think the grey color theme would make it perfect for Halloween. And the green cake surprise is just beyond awesome.

mrswebbinthekitchen said...

This is just the most incredible work of art! Thank you for always being so inspiring. :)

Lora said...

Incredible! I love all the grey and then the explosion of green. Your Sparky is perfection.

Lisa Barlow Flournoy said...

getting your emails is such a treat. Beautiful work!

Anonymous said...

Wow!!! How awesome this cake is!!! Thank you for sharing!! I'm going to attempt this for a birthday party :) Thank you again!

Holly

marla said...

Heather, I cannot get over your talents!! Now I MUST see this movie ~ with I had the CAKE!

Mark said...

Amazing! May link back to this from my blog with a photo if you don't mind. Fellow Halloween enthusiasts will be blown away!

Lili said...

This just blows me away...it needs to be on the cover of a magazine! And can you imagine if they had something like this at the premiere showing of this movie. Oh Heather you are so incredibly talented! xoxo ~Lili

Jamie Sheasby said...

I love you. That is all.

Liz said...

Talk about a work of art! Absolutely love this! I still need to see the movie.

Morgan said...

Since im in love with this movie!. Im going to ask my mom if she can have someone make this for me for my birthday I would love it :)!*

Little Gothic Horrors said...

Your Sparky cake is magnificent! A work of art! :)

Erin Walsh said...

I gave it a go! Haven't tasted it yet.. the party's tomorrow. :) http://instagram.com/p/RRMrXuBF_U/

ladymorgiana said...

Wow I'm speechless!

Anonymous said...

I took a stab at making Sparky and he turned out pretty alright, thanks to your really helpful step-by-step tutorial! I'm looking forward to making the rest of the cake and purchasing your book!

frost said...

this is really cute!!

photo cakes forever said...

This cake is unbelievable. I see amazing cakes on Pinterest all the time - but this is something else.

Mascake Scarlett said...

IMPRESIONANTE!!!!! Me encanta!

Anonymous said...

I will be trying to make this frankenweenie cake this week...any tips? I'm never worked with gum paste before :(
Thank you!

Caylie Holtz said...

I just wrote a blog post all about this cake, I LOVE IT. Good job!

http://thecreatureworkshopblog.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/halloween-inspiration-frankenweenie.html

Johanna Dunn said...

This is absolutely GENIUS! Thank you so much for sharing!!

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H

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