Front view of the Dr. Horrible Cake.
When deciding to do party cakes for Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, I immediately knew that Dr. Horrible’s cake would involve goggles. I made two separate attempts at carving goggles out of cake, but the funny thing? Once you carve a pair of goggles out of cake, there’s not a lot of cake left.
I made the decision that the goggles would be the cake “topper” and that the base of the cake would be a tribute to the work Dr. Horrible did to get into the Evil League of Evil (E.L.E). The bottom layer is part of the formula for the death ray and the top layer is a representation of the label on the death ray. The back of the cake… oh wait, you haven’t seen the back of the cake, have you?
Dr. Horrible Cake, back view with Bad Horse silhouette.
The back of the cake is a tribute to Bad Horse — think of this as the cake served at the party where Dr. Horrible is accepted into the E.L.E.
The goggles for this cake are made (100%) out of fondant. And I’ll go through the step-by-steps for anyone who wants make their own goggles, but let’s start with the list of supplies and the cake coverings.
- 2 – 8″ rounds baked in 3″ deep pans, or 4 – 8″ rounds baked in 1 – 1.5″ pans
- Buttercream Frosting
- Posts and cardboard for stacking support
- Gel Food Coloring (Red and Black)
- Liquid food coloring (Black and Yellow)
- Wilton’s Pearl Dust (White, Silver, and Gold)
- Wilton’s Gum-Tex
For the front portion of the bottom layer, I painted the death ray formula copied from Dr. Horrible’s white board of evil onto white fondant. The “paint” is liquid black food coloring I purchased from my local grocery store (check the baking aisle).
Painting the death ray formula on fondant.
Here is the bottom cake layer (if using the shorter baking pans, this would be two layers of cake) covered in chocolate buttercream and wrapped with the front piece of fondant.
Bottom layer wrapped with the front image.
For the top layer, I colored some fondant bright red and covered the second layer in the same way as the first. I cut the letters for “RAY” out of white fondant with cookie cutters and gently rolled them onto a strip of black fondant. I attached that piece to the red covered layer.
The death ray label.
Next, I half cut/half tore off a piece of rolled-out black fondant for the “death” portion of the label. I painted the word “Death” with a mixture of Wilton’s White Pearl Dust and water.
Because of the weight of these extra thick layers (plus the fondant), I used the stacking method described by Pix.
For the back of the cake, both layers are covered in one piece of black fondant and then decorated with a silhouette cut-out of Bad Horse and two silver horseshoes. Download the silhouette and horseshoe patterns PDF and use these as you guide. The horseshoes are made from grey fondant dusted with Wilton’s Silver Pearl Dust.
Download the Bad Horse and Horseshoe Silhouette pattern in PDF format.
Once that is completed, cover the seams (on the sides where the fondant meets) with a strip of fondant in the color of your choice. I chose gold and wasn’t 100% thrilled with that, but once it was attached… well, I decided it was just dandy.
For the top of the cake, cut a circle of black fondant. If you’re feeling whimsical, use a special cutter that will give you a scalloped or wavy edge. Just place that circle on top of the cake and press down. Make sure that the circle is thick enough that the weight of the goggles won’t easily tear it or poke through.
Building the Fondant Goggles
In truth, you really do have to start with the goggles — there is a fair amount of “waiting for fondant to dry” involved. Several days worth, in fact. So build your goggles first — otherwise your guests will be oohing and ahhing over really pretty, albeit stale, cake.
I was sitting in front of my computer staring at pictures of Neil Patrick Harris as Dr. Horrible and trying to mold a miniature pair of goggles out of polymer clay. I just wanted to get a feel for the shape of the goggles.
Making the mold/form for the fondant goggles.
It was not going well.
Mr. Pfoinkle walked in and when he realized what I was doing, he offered, “Would it help if you had a pair of the goggles to look at?” I just stared him. He said, “What? They’re welding goggles, I’ve got a pair in the garage.” Yes, I knew Mr. Pfoinkle had done welding and I knew he had welding goggles. But I’d never seen them. And I didn’t know these goggles were welding goggles.
Mr. Pfoinkle got the goggles. They’re not identical to Dr. Horrible’s, but they were a huge assist in creating the form for the goggles. And this is the critical part — building the form. Mine is made from fondant. If you’re wondering why the fondant looks so lumpy… well, let’s just say that when you break a pair of fondant goggles that you’ve been working on for days, you might just decide to completely redo the everything, including the form… and you might just find that when you rework a big block of fondant that has been drying for days…
I wasn’t worried about the lumps. Dr. Horrible’s goggles are pretty beaten up anyway.
I wish I could give you step-by-step instructions to build your own form, but getting the shape right is more about pushing a big lump of fondant about until it looks right than it is about me figuring out a way to explain the process in five easy steps.
Once your goggle form is completed (I covered mine with a layer of red fondant because I had leftover red fondant from another project and okay, I was a little concerned about how lumpy it was), you’ll have to let it harden for several days.
Goggle form covered in shortening.
After the form is hardened, slather it with shortening. The shortening provides a barrier that keeps the fondant of the goggles from permanently fusing to the form.
Roll out enough grey fondant to cover the form. Because I had already made (and broken) one set of fondant goggles, I added a 1/4 teaspoon of Wilton’s Gum-Tex (purchase at cake supply stores) to the fondant — this makes the fondant a bit tougher and less prone to breakage.
Grey fondant shaped on form.
Cover the form the exact same way you would do if you were covering a cake. Trim off the excess and shape the fondant to the form. Be gentle. Be forwarned that the weak points of the goggles are the center points on the front and back. You’re most likely to see cracking and crumbling at the nose piece and in the same spot of the rim on the back of the goggles.
Once the goggles are shaped, allow them to dry for approximately two days.
Now is a good time to start wondering how you’re going to remove the goggles from the form.
Two days after making my first pair of goggles, the fondant had dried. And I knew I was in trouble. Oh, I had known I was in trouble much earlier on, but now there was no getting around it.
Using pneumatics in cake construction.
There was no way to get the fondant goggles off the fondant form.
I called in Mr. Pfoinkle. We tossed ideas back and forth. Most of the ideas I had already thought through and dismissed, but then Mr. Pfoinkle said, “What if you could take something, say a straw, and cut holes in the fondant and then blow air into the holes… no that won’t work, forget it.”
I ran to get a straw. Because of the ornaments going on the goggles (the lens and the side vents), I knew I could make a series of holes that would not be visible once the goggles were built. I used the end of the straw to cut through the goggle-layer of fondant (not the form) and remove the small plug. Then I placed the straw back in the shallow hole and blew. At first, nothing, then I saw a section of fondant release (thank goodness for the shortening) and not break. I cut more holes and did more blowing.
Sure, I blacked out a few times, but it worked.
Once you have the fondant goggles removed from the form, gently wipe off any remaining shortening from the inside of the goggles.
The form covered in plastic wrap with the goggles sitting on top.
Do NOT place the goggle back on the form, just… trust me on this one.
Cover the form in plastic wrap. Now you can place the goggles back on the form.
Now comes the painting portion. You’ll be making liberal use of both gold and silver edible pearl dust. Technically, the goggles are silver in color, but in the Sing-Along Blog, they have a much warmer glow that requires the addition of a bit of gold coloring.
One of my favorite tools for painting.
The finished goggles have several layers of paint/dust and I won’t go through each step, but I’ll give you some tips. For the goggles, I never mixed pearl dust with water (or alcohol) to make a “paint”. For my tastes, I achieve better results by dry-brushing the dusts onto the fondant or by applying a coat of food coloring to the goggles and dry brushing the dusts over that. To get the “golden glow”, I painted the already silver goggles with yellow food coloring and then dry-brushed gold dust over that. All of these methods require a very light touch. Too much pressure and the surface of the fondant turns to a sugary mud and you’re right back to grey (having disolved the metallic dusts).
Once you’ve finished coating your goggles (or when you’re waiting for the latest coat to dry), you can begin work on the lenses. Each lens is made from eleven pieces of black fondant.
The goggle lens, deconstructed.
The center of the lens is a thick hockey puck of fondant. If you don’t have a cookie cutter the appropriate size, you can make a low usage cutter out of brass shim stock and duct tape.
Or you can cut a circle out of paper and use that as a pattern.
Once you have your hockey puck, roll out a thin piece of fondant that is long enough to wrap around the lens and just taller the lens. This forms the lens “rim”.
Roll out a skinny piece of fondant (again, long enough to wrap around the lens) and wrap this around the bottom of the lens. This forms the base of the lens.
Closeup of the finished lens.
Now cut out eight small rectangles that are the height of the hockey puck minus the piece you just wrapped around the base. These form the deelie-doos that go on the side of the lens.
To give the lens that nicely distressed and well-used look, lightly brush the sides of the lens with powdered sugar or flour. If you get dust on the actual lens (and you will), don’t worry about it too much — once you’ve finished all the dust applications, paint the lens with black food coloring to get that nice glossy look.
Now make another lens. Try to make it the exact same size as the first one. Good luck with that.
Having made two pairs of goggles (remember? the first pair broke), I cannot stress enough the importance of this next piece. The black layer of fondant sitting on the top. I didn’t have the piece on the first set of goggles (I had just made a t-shape that went between the lenses).
The top of the goggles and making that black base piece.
Remember? The first pair BROKE.
This piece really adds a lot of strength and stability to the goggles. To make this piece, roll out some black fondant. Flip the goggles upside down on the fondant (your goggles are dry, right?) and cut around them. Flip the goggles right side up, place them back on their form and place the piece you just cut out on top of the goggles (don’t moisten it, we’re not attaching at this stage). There will likely be some overhang and places where it just doesn’t fit correctly. But this is fondant, squoosh it around until it looks right. Once you’ve got a nicely fitting piece, remove it, moisten it, and attach it to the goggles.
Attach the lenses to the goggles in the same manner.
Now cut two small and one long rectangles of black fondant. These form the two littly nubby bits over each lens (in real goggles, these are hinges) and the long less-nubby bit over the center (also a hinge). Get those to a pleasing shape and attach them.
You can make the six black discs (which are vents) at any time. Just don’t attach them until just before you attach the straps. Otherwise, you will knock them off, they will go shooting across the room and under the sofa and you will be making more because you can’t find the ones you’ve knocked off.
Making the goggle vents.
You’ve been warned.
Anyway, these are pretty easy to make (which is great since you need six of them). Cut a thick (thicker than you want the final piece to be) circle of fondant that’s smaller than the final size. Flatten that circle (but keep the circle shape) with the rolling pin. Use the same cutter to cut the center from the flattened circle. Place the new disk on the table and flatten it out just a bit more. Moisten one side of the ring you created and attach it to the disc you just flattened. Then smoosh it about to get the shape you want (which should be rounder than the one pictured).
For the strap, I mixed about 1/4 teaspoon of Gum-Tex in with a fairly small amount of brown fondant. This makes for some very tough dry fondant. It also makes the fondant pretty darn easy to work with in ribbon format.
The fondant strap of the goggles.
Though I wouldn’t recommend it for fondant that you actually expect to be eaten — it’s got a kind of tangy bitter kick.
I rolled out the fondant and cut a ribbon. Then, because I wanted rough edges and because this Gum-Tex laced fondant was already so dry, I gave it another pass with the rolling pin. This created those rough almost crumbly edges you don’t usually want with fondant, but that were perfect for the strap on the goggles.
To attach the strap to the goggles, you need to flat u-shaped pieces of fondant. I created mine by draping ribbons of fondant over two square chopsticks (just happened to be the right width for my goggles) and then trimming off the excess fondant. Allow the fondant to dry on the chopsticks and then paint/coat them to match the metallic finish of the goggles.
Creating the metal pieces that hold the strap in place.
Make sure that these pieces are wide enough that the strap fits within the sides.
Turn the goggles upside down. Place the strap in the goggles with the ends draped over the sides. Moisten the edges of the u-shaped piece and press it over the strap attaching it directly to the goggles. Repeat on the other side. Allow these pieces to dry thoroughly with goggle resting upside down.
Attaching the strap with the metallic holders.
And now you have just created the weakest point on the goggles — not the u-shapes, but the stress they place on the fondant strap. When you place the goggles on the cake, make sure to support the weight of the strap at all times and never let it just dangle. Gum-Tex is good, but it doesn’t work miracles.
And um, that’s pretty much it. Easy-peasy, no?
Tags: dr. horrible’s sing-along blog, Fan Cakes