I made this UFC Octagon cake for my boyfriend’s 27th birthday. He is an MMA fanatic and I bought us tickets for an MMA event to mark his aging. I thought a UFC cake would be a fantastic sidekick. I know absolutely nothing about baking or decorating but, stupidly, I did not let that worry me.

First, I studied the internet for ideas; the finished product is made up of bits and pieces from all kinds of cakes. This website was a big help so I have returned to share my experience with all you UFC cake-making virgins out there and spare you the horrors of faulty Octagon cake making as experienced by me. If you know anything about making cakes you can probably skip this.

The base of the cake is a simple chocolate recipe covered in chocolate cream. Any base can be used but it has to be rather dry, not requiring refrigeration. Trust me, I have accidentally dripped water on the fondant once and it was not pretty.

I cut the cake in the shape of an octagon. One problem I encountered that did not show up anywhere is the “cakes for dummies” guides was that the cake did not come out even height. They don’t tell you that! What I did was to add the bits I cut off under the lower parts to create an even playing field. I guess you could also cut off the top but that requires tools and, hmm, ability.

The cake is covered in white fondant. Surprisingly, that was the easiest part. You can find explanations on how to work with it online. I had no problems. Creating the figures, on the other hand, was much harder than I had anticipated. I recommend getting the good stuff for the figures, the more expensive or homemade fondant that is softer and easier to ply. You have to work fast with the small details because it hardens otherwise. I had plans to add hair but by the time I got there there was no convincing the fondant.

I colored white fondant to make the shades I wanted. You have to use the gel colors; the watery kind is no good with fondant. Also, looking back, I would put some sort of support internally, maybe a wooden stick (probably best to remember to notify the happy recipient that there is a wooden stick inside his candy). The severed hand is covered in red coloring gel. Make these ahead of time! They need to finish hardening for a few hours. Mine turned out the wrong weight class, it’s OK though – I told him the big guy was cutting to make the class.

The fence was also a problem. I was going to do the entire circle but the figures turned out a bit too big (lesson for the future, measure sizes first, then make) so I settled on a small fence. It turned out that it isn’t so easy to stick chocolate into fondant, who would have thought?! I used toothpicks to stick Twix bars into the cake as poles. The fence is made of gelatin sheets traced in black, I got the idea online and it worked well. I glued the sheets to the poles with chocolate syrup.

Finally, the tracing of the octagon was made with chocolate syrup. I used a pattern of an octagon cut to size to make sure I don?t destroy it with my less than stable hand.

I was going to add some octagon ads and writing in the sides but by this point I was losing ability to look at cake. Also, I kind of ran out of space. Better planning next time. As a first attempt, this was a rather big hit.