My now 4 year old son's interest in robots began earlier this year when he discovered a really fun book called Lilliput 5357 about the 1940's vintage robot (Lilliput 5357: Stephan Czernecki). We even found a reproduction of this unique toy from Back to Basics and gave it to him for Christmas. So when it came time to pick a theme for his 4 year birthday, robots and Lilliput were it!
The tradition of making homemade birthday cakes goes back to my childhood days when my mom took a caking baking/decorating class and then used her skills to make my cakes throughout the years. I always loved that she took the time to design and make special cakes for me each year. She had a Maids of Scandinavia cake book and would let me choose the design for each birthday. She still has that book with notes written beside the cakes that she made - those 70's classics, of course - rainbow cake, ballerina cake, doll cake etc.
So of course, once I had my own children I wanted to continue the tradition together with my mom. I have yet to take a cake class (although it's on my list), so I need her help!
So this year, we used the Lilliput robot as inspiration to design our cake. Mom used Duncan Hines yellow pound cake recipe (written on back of box) to make the cakes more firm. She used 3 box mixes and baked 2 9x13 rectangular cake and 2 9x9 square cakes.
Once they were cooled, she released them from pans, brushed off the crumbs and laid the design out onto wax paper. One rectangle was the body, one square was the head, one rectangle split in half made the legs. She cut off about a 2 inch rectangle from the bottom of the legs to create the raised up feet and placed these pieces on top of the legs. She cut the other square into 4 parts to create the arms (two large pieces and 2 small pieces).
Mom then made homemade fondant icing with this recipe that we found online and left it in a large glass bowl to cool and set in the fridge for several hours.
She then iced the cake parts with store bought Betty Crocker vanilla icing and put the iced cake parts into the fridge to cool until ready for the fondant.
Once the fondant was chilled, she divided it as needed for coloring. With food coloring she mixed red and yellow to make the gold icing for the head and the body and made a separate batch of slightly darker orange for the arms and legs. She then made some red and black and reserved a little white for details.
Next she rolled out the fondant to 1/8 inch thickness and took out each cake piece separately and covered them with the fondant cutting off excess around edges. We watched this helpful video to learn more about working with fondant.
After draping all parts, she reassembled the cake on a large science project poster board covered with wax paper.
Mom and I added Lilliput decorative details with shapes cut from the fondant. We changed the "Lilliput 5357" as written on the robot to our son's initials and birth date "JW 0614".
My artistic husband added art around the board with quotes and symbols from the Lilliput book.
Making Lilliput 5357 was quite a process but a lot of fun and turned out to be a big hit at the party!
Note: If you follow this recipe, you'll need to slide the poster board onto a piece of ply-board to transport the cake safely given it's size and weight.