For my husbands 40th birthday I wanted to give him something unusual. So I decided to make his birthday cake, and decorate it with everything he is into. To start out it hit me that him being into music, selling vintage vinyl and being a DJ make it look like a stack of records. Being on a tight budget I decided to make everything myself. Never having messed with fondant before I decided to make my own having heard so many people say how nasty it tasted. I made a marshmallow fondant I found on the internet and it worked wonderfully, I flavored it with some orange flavoring.
My husband is a chocolate lover so I found a good sturdy chocolate cake recipe on line designed for a wedding cake and discovered a chocolate butter cream recipe in a Better Homes and Garden cook book. The only thing I did not make myself was the orange marmalade. I made 12″, 9″ and 7″ rounds, iced them glazed them with a layer of orange marmalade, then iced them with the chocolate butter cream then covered in a homemade black fondant. I brushed the black with silver dust to keep it the wet look of vinyl. I then used various items around the house to create different shapes etc. including a bath toy for the duck. Our daughter helped knead the fondant, and I found we ended up with a cool swirled effect. I used a stencil to paint in letters on fondant banners, as my handwriting is horrid. I made a little cat, amp, keyboard, book and the left over red into a radioactive warning. The cake took a long time to eat and I have been doing cakes ever since for birthdays and friends weddings since it was so much fun to experiment and sculpt.
Things I learned in this process, your hands will be dyed many different colors. A good quality heavy duty mixer is priceless. Make sure your stove is level (if not you can shave your cakes with a wire like in pottery). In a multi-layer cake cut straws are a cheap way to hold the cake up (about 5 is good), card board cake rounds are a good thing to use in a multi-layer cake. You can make your fondant ahead of time. I have since used some manufactured fondant and yeah it is nasty and not much better to work with. I really recommend making your own, it is not hard and just be careful with your sugar addition. There are so many videos out there to help you out it is amazing. The cake did take me about 16 hours total time (over the course of about a week) to make, but overall so worth it. Giving someone something you made really is a great gift.