I had the privilege of being apart of an amazing group of talented cake designers for a Christmas Cake Collaboration. We each took a day of Christmas from the song “12 Days of Christmas” and made a cake inspired by it. I got “Seven Swans A Swimming” and here is the cake I created inspired by that verse.
Can you find them…all seven swans??
I was so excited with how it turned out and loved these sweet little swans! To find out what my thought was behind this cake and links to all the tutorials, click HERE.
This is the smallest of the “real” swans…a pretty princess I named Odeliah, which means “Praise God”. For He helped me through every step of making this cake and gave me something beautiful to look at in the end. He is worthy of praise and I owe Him all the glory!
This is my prince…such a gentle spirit! I call him “Benaiah” because it means “Yahweh builds up”…and HE did help me with this BIG time!! – as did my husband, Ben, who gave me the idea of it coming to life!! – so he’s named after both my loves! Plus, naming them makes them so much more real!!
Now, onto how I created these little beauties!!
I started out by buying some 1/4″ copper wire from the home improvement store. I took a hammer to one end of the wire to flatten it down to about 1/2” wide. I shaped the swan neck/head like I wanted it, then drilled a hole into the flattened part of the wire so I could screw it into the cake board. I cut a piece of foam core into the shape of the body of the swan and glued it on top of the part of the wire that was screwed into the board. As you can see in the picture below, I began covering the body with white modeling chocolate (see lower right swan).
After I covered the bodies with modeling chocolate, I began to cover the neck and build up the head. It’s all done with modeling chocolate. I had the computer out with several pictures of swan heads on it for reference. It took me a while to get the head just right. I didn’t realize how tall the heads were!! Once I added more to the top of the head, it started to take shape. I smoothed the modeling chocolate as much as I could, but also knew I was going to be adding some good texture to it, so I didn’t work on getting it super smooth. Before I started the texture, I took a veining fondant tool and drew out where the black head/eyes/beak would be going. This helped me know where to start texturing the head…see #1 and #2 below.
For the texture, I actually used the same technique I’ve seen used for gumpaste Christmas or fir trees! You simply use a tiny pair of scissors and cut at the modeling chocolate to get a textured/feathered type look working from the top down. Then I went back over it with my hands and smoothed it down a bit so it didn’t look too spiky. I got the idea from THIS video over on youtube but I laughed out loud when I saw her do it because I never thought about it for a feathery type look on the swan until I saw that video!! So funny!!!
For the wings, I cut out a large piece of gumpaste to create a “foundation” to attach the gumpaste feathers I had made. I cut the wings out then let them sit flat on my counter for a few hours. Once they were firm enough to hold their shape, but still be molded, I used some melted chocolate to attach it to my swan. You can see they cracked just a bit when I bent them, but no one will see it because they’re covered in feathers!!
Now to create the feathers!! I thought a little video would be fun and give you an easy way to see how I made them.
I used THESE petal shaped cutters in several sizes to get the feather look as well as the larger green Wilton cutter…but I have no idea what that one is for or called!! LOL! It’s just a random cutter I own that worked great for the large feathers. I then used THIS petal impression mat (that I love!) to get a little texture on the wings. Once they were cut out, impressed with a texture, I let them sit for 20 min. or so. Then I used my scalpel to slice up the edges of the feathers then stretched and pulled them apart a bit to get some spacing between the feathers. They looked great!! – but were time consuming for sure!! I don’t remember how many I used on the little one, but I cut around 100 for the larger swan.
Now to attach the feathers to the wings…
Begin with the larger feathers and a little white melted chocolate and stick them on your gumpaste wing starting at the back. Make sure to cut a lot of wings in various sizes…the larger to the back, the smaller to the front. Overlap as best you can covering everything and giving it a full effect. Next time I’d actually make the bodies a little fatter so the wings weren’t quite so flat looking. But, for my first swan ever…I’m super happy with how the wings turned out!!
Use the little feathers as you get closer to the neck. I actually cut several small feathers from modeling chocolate so that I could seamlessly heat them and make them look like they blended into the body of the swan…like an actual swan. That’s the beauty of modeling chocolate…unlike gumpaste that is hard and set, you can warm up modeling chocolate with your fingers and brush away the edge of the feathers into the body of the swan. LOVED it!!
I didn’t worry much about the very bottom of the swan because I knew I was going to be pouring water on the board and having a little water come up the sides of the feathers. So, it doesn’t have to be perfect where it hits the board.
Now, onto the face…
I’m so sorry I didn’t show you some step by step pictures on how to do the orange beak!! But I’ll explain it. Imagine the image below with just the white face (like the image above). I rolled out some orange modeling chocolate SUPER thin and laid it over the whole beak area with a little sugar water. I then took a scalpel and cut the shape I wanted from the orange modeling chocolate and peeled off the excess. Then, I painted all the space around the orange beak and up to the texture “feather” line black and added a small black fondant eye. I meant to go back and add some corn syrup on the eye to make it glossy and totally forgot…so, remember to do that. It’ll make it a bit more glassy/realistic looking.
Look at that sweet face!! LOVE her!
And there you have it! A beautiful, life like swan!!
Happy New Year!!
Check out all my favorite tools HERE (including the scalpel & quilter’s ruler I used in this post)
Check out my online cake classes with Craftsy and snag some DEEP discounts HERE. This link also includes other class discounts so you don’t want to miss out!!