How to make a cake with gum paste swans

When it came time to celebrate Clara’s 10th birthday the occasion called for SWANS! Clara selected a couple of cake designs that she liked to share with me for inspiration. Her brother Rowen had recently enjoyed his ski jump cake, and now Clara would be enjoying her birthday cake from Emoticakes. Her brother has had several but this was Clara’s first time to celebrate her birthday with one of my cakes. I was excited to embrace the challenge of making gum paste swans.

The inspiration cakes

Clara’s mom asked that the cake not be fully covered in fondant and said that I didn’t need to have them be quite as complex as either inspiration cake. The rocks, grasses etc were optional and the one with the frogs etc (no swans) could be more of the inspiration if I didn’t think I could do the swans. I liked having options!

Time to make some swans

My husband keeps telling me I should do some video work, but the truth is I am only just starting to be willing to watch someone else’s video when I need to learn something. I prefer to work with picture and text instructions so I can play music in the background as I work through the process. I find it challenging to work in a medium that I don’t like to use myself. I’m going to instead share the video tutorials I use when I use them. I’ll also include a step by step in pictures with some text instructions for you.

This video is really nicely done and is easy to follow. I dare say I enjoyed making the swans using it. Thank you to Cassie for posting it on her YouTube channel!

Steps to make your swans

  1. Cassie starts by teaching us to make a neck out of sugar paste. Roll it around in your hand a little bit and pinch the top to make it look like the beak of a swan.
  2. Make your body. This should be about the size of a golf ball. I was making two swans so I focused on making the bodies the same size and making the necks the same size.
  3. Then make a little shelf for the back of the swan by pinching with your fingers. Then, take small scissors and cut tail feathers.
  4. I showed cutting the wings next, though she does this after finishing the body. Use a petal cutter and make two pairs of wings. Note that a pair means that you’ll alternate the way the petal is cut. When you place the feathers on the swans you want them facing out.
  5. Finish your feathers on the swan by using your scissors to cut into the swan. Then, take a tool to run it across to make more lines. You will definitely want to watch the video for this step.
  6. Next you want to do the same technique you have just done with scissors on the body for the wings. This will make your wings look like feathers.
  7. Brush the wings with water and attach them gently to the swan sides. If there is any excess wing, just wrap it underneath the swan. Use your tool to brush along the sides of the wings to make them look more like feathers.
  8. Make a mix of sugar paste and water to form a nice strong glue. Then brush the glue and attach the neck to the swan. Allow to fully dry. I made these a few days before the cake needed to be completed.
  9. When the swans are dry use edible orange and black markers to color the beaks and heads of the swans. This portion is optional and not included in her tutorial. I did this to more closely match the original inspiration cake.

Designing the cake

For Clara’s cake I used an 8″ size. Clara wanted marble cake with mint cookie filling and coffee frosting. The important feature of this cake in my mind was the marbling to give the look of a lake. I achieved this by first frosting the base with coffee frosting. I chilled it thoroughly and then used a small amount of blue frosting and started to gently frost above the coffee frosting with a thin layer of blue. Then, I added more coloring and did another sporadic layer of darker blue. I focused on blending it until it made a look similar to a pond in moonlight. The picture at the right is of this mid process.

After that I added adornments that included chocolate rocks as well as frosting greenery. I kept the cake simple using mostly frosting. As a final touch I made fondant lily pads with a heart fondant cutter and flower cutter. I decided to keep the cake mostly in the blue/green family though I briefly considered using all colors for flowers. In order to keep things simple and elegant, I stopped with swans for the cake.

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