After doing taxidermy for 27 years, I decided to switch to something I was also very good at; cake baking and decorating. I’d been doing wedding cakes part time for many years. So, I opened a cake shop in a small, neighboring town. My cakes were a big hit! But, the one cake design I really wanted to do was a reflection of my work as a taxidermist. The fish cake was my goal; to make one that looked like the real article! After two attempts I did it! This is frozen and carved. The fins are fondant. It’s all hand-painted with food coloring. Here’s how to make this cake:

Start by baking three single layers of yellow (sponge-type) cake. I use a yellow cake mix and add 4 eggs and half a stick of melted butter. Follow baking directions. Cool them, (under a damp towel). Then wrap in plastic and freeze. Depending on how many servings you’ll need, make a cardboard stencil to guide you. When you are ready to put the cake together, spread icing between each layer and stack them.

Lay the stencil on the cake and carve the shape. Be sure to round all the edges. Place on a cake board. Frost the cake with a layer of butter cream. To prepare the fondant, roll it out about 1/16′ thick and 4″ bigger than the cake. If you want scales on your fish, cover the rolling pin with netting, (an onion bag cut flat will do). Be careful not to put scales on the face or gills! Lift the fondant with the rolling pin and cover the cake so the scales are in the proper area.

With a paint brush dipped in cool water, wipe down the whole cake. This will make your fish shine. The fins are made of pieces of rolled fondant. Cut each fin by following the cardboard shapes you make ahead of time. To make the ripples in each fin, use a small dowel. Press gently and roll the dowel. Paint the body and fins, and allow them to dry overnight. Make a cardboard support with a thin skewer taped underneath for each fin. These will help keep the fins in place.

When the fins are dried, place each one on the support. Cut a slit in the cake where the fin will go, and slide it into place. The taill will be heavy, so two long skewers will be needed. They will go through 3/4 of the length of the fish. Don’t forget an eye, which can be made with fondant, also.