I made this Coiled Timber Rattlesnake birthday cake for my son's 15th birthday. This is my very first fondant-covered cake. I am typically a cupcake baker - so I took this as a challenge to experiment and be creative!
I started with two thick 10" round layers of red velvet cake. I made the cake very dense and moist so that it would sculpt and hold its shape better. Between the layers I used almond butter cream frosting.
I made the tail and the head out of Rice Krispies treats, sculpting them to the right size. I also put a lollipop stick in the head to hold it in the cake. I then used a knife to shape the cake a little, rounding out the edges, making the top layer a little narrower and carving out part of the inside.
I then iced the whole cake and the Rice Krispies parts with almond butter cream frosting. I put the cake in the freezer for about an hour to harden it all.
I colored some fondant purple and cut it the right size to place in the center of the coil. I don't know why I chose purple! (in hindsight I should have used black or brown or green, I guess I was trying to use more color!) I then colored some (Wilton brand, store bought) fondant a sandy-brown color, rolled it out, and (through trial and error) covered the cake. I cut out a couple of strips of fondant to wrap around the "rattler" part of the tail.
At this point the head started drooping, so I used another lollipop stick to prop the head up. If I could do it again, I would have used 2 or 3 sticks to hold up the head in the cake, setting them in the cake almost like a tripod. I let the fondant dry for an hour then I put the cake in the freezer overnight.
I took the cake out of the freezer the next morning and sprayed it lightly with very lightly with water. I did this because I wanted the sheen of the cake to be shiny and snake-like. I rubbed the water into the surface of the fondant so that it got a bit sticky and slimy.
I used brown and black gel food coloring (Wilton) and several angled watercolor brushes to apply the coloring. I first painted the black spots and stripes, using a photo of an actual timber rattlesnake as a guide. I used dabbing strokes to try to give the areas a scaled-look. I painted on the face, but for the eyes I used small balls of yellowish-brown fondant and applied eyelids over them (again, using the picture as a guide). I used an angled brush and brown food coloring to apply a diamond pattern to the rest of the body, then I kind of dabbed over it with the very edge of the brush, using the stickiness of the surface to kind of blend the pattern to look a little more like scales.
Once I was satisfied with the snake I made some more butter cream frosting and made "grass" all around the snake. The cake was amazing and delicious, my son was very happy and the whole family loved eating it!
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