My son had to make a cake and decorate for a Scout competition. I decided a Homemade Camping Theme Cake would be most appropriate. I searched this site to see what others had done. Using some of the tips and coming up with my own, I have my rendition to share.
Use a decorating icing for the decorating. You can buy at any cake store or Michaels Craft Store. You want one that will harden up, a royal icing will do as well.
Trees: Tinted icing with forest green to get a darker color (using cake color paste, not food coloring). Sugar cones and #18 Star Icing tip to pull through the tree boughs. I started at bottom and went around the circle base and worked up. Put on a lift (box)of some sort to get good position. Start with icing at cone and squeeze full circle and slowly pull out to point for good coverage and nice shaped bough. Let dry overnight before trying to move and put on trunk. With or without trunk move gently to avoid breaks. Next day I took a pretzel rod and gobbed on some of the frosting on top end then stuck it into the cone to anchor it as a trunk. Let dry.
Bought various colors of pre-rolled fondant to do the tent and other things you see.
Tent: Used blue fondant and rolled it out. Tricky. It likes to stick to the surface. Roll on silpat would probably help. I rolled on my counter and used sharp knife to cut box shapes and scrape off my counter. Not the best way.
For the tent I rolled out and cut out a large rectangle. Broke one graham cracker into its halves and glued them in a tent shape with icing. Spread some icing on sides and laid the fondant over. Now your artistic talents come in handy. Trim it up to shape the look of a tent. I wrapped some of the extra on the backside but on front I trimmed it up to be the opening. Made a little extra square and fastened with icing to side for a window look. Took my knife point to put in some stitching detail to look more authentic. Let dry overnight.
Mushrooms and log: Used colored fondant to form these. The log I etched with the knife. The mushrooms I used an edible marker to draw spots on. Let dry.
Signs: Rolled fondant into shapes I wanted. Used edible fine point markers to write the wording. Let sign dry overnight. Made a glue from 1inch ball of same colored fondant and 1/4tsp water, mixing it well into a paste/glue. Used mini pretzel sticks for the trail sign. Then using the fresh adhesive, glued the pretzel sticks to the back of my sign. Let dry completely.
For the scout sign I just cut it a little long and used the same adhesive mix to attach to a tooth pick and wrapped it around to touch the fondant. Rolled up a little red ball and just poked it on top.
Cake: Have this great chocolate cake recipe. But the ganache is what you want for the look. Super easy. Use a FROZEN small container of Cool Whip. Put in a glass bowl and add 3/4 of bag of Nestle Choc Chunks. Microwave 1 1/2 minutes then stir well to mix. Nuke 30 secs longer if needed to melt and blend well. =Let set 15-20min before you glaze the completely cooled cake.
I ground in my food processor cinnamon graham crackers to make the "ground" look. = I wanted it to stand out from the ganache.
Lake: Used decorators gel; buy from Michaels in tub. It is clear and you can tint however you want. I tinted with royal blue. Before sprinkling the ground with graham crackers; I mixed a bit of graham crackers with course decorators sugar in silver to look like rocky edge...then made my shoreline with that mixture. Put the colored gel into a bag and piped it into that lake space. Threw some blue edible glitter on top to give texture. Cut head off Swedish fish and shoved it to look like a fish surfacing.
Then sprinkled remaining terrain with grahams to look like dirt. Word of caution...I DID NOT DO. I might recommend you placing all the items so they plant themselves and stick THEN sprinkle with grahams. My things were not solidly planted because they rested on top of crumbs. Just a thought. I will likely take that course next time.
FirePit: Found at candy store...candy rocks made from chocolate. Pick out the smallest ones you can find to keep scale. Circle them up and I used mini sticks broken down in size slightly then put up in shape of bon fire. Flames...Used lifesavors I melted in custard dish in oven at 400 degrees. Melts fast so watch it. Let cool then break up into jagged pieces. I stuck them in between the fire wood and secured any that needed it with a little red icing.
Lastly the grass details: Used a #233 icing tip and practice making patches of grass. Put where you want them. I edged the bottom of the cake with it and placed a few extra candy rocks down there.
That's it, our Homemade Camping Theme Cake completed. We won first place with this cake!