Do you recognize this little tugboat? If you’re like me and have a fondness for the Golden Books of your childhood you do! It’s Scuffy The Tugboat from the beloved Golden Book. The book is a classic that you shouldn’t miss out on, so if you haven’t read it yet go out and find a copy. It is a beautifully illustrated and written book to share with your children and grandchildren.
Children’s books offer great inspiration for birthday parties, and I thought Scuffy The Tugboat would be a perfect party theme for my nephew’s 3rd birthday! Also it was a great excuse to make a Scuffy cake. At the time, I thought that everyone knew exactly who Scuffy was, but at the party many people thought the cake was just a tugboat. I couldn’t believe they had never heard of Scuffy!
I knew I had to get the eyes right for the cake to truly look like Scuffy. The eyes always bring a character to life, and it’s exciting when you get to the eyes, because once you put them on you can tell if everything is going to work. You can have everything else right, but if the eyes aren’t spot on, you may have to try again.
Originally I wasn’t sure if I would use piping or fondant for the details on this cake. I tried piping, but the result was not what I wanted, so all of the details are fondant and gumpaste. The cake itself is just cake (no rice krispies) and though it is a 3-D cake, the shapes are not difficult, so it is pretty simple (as simple as 3-D cakes get).
The tool I use most often for wood grain is a plastic ruler. I use the edge of it, and drag it across the fondant to make the pattern. I brushed this wood grain with brown gel paste to bring out the grain. I love to do fun cake boards, and this is one of my favorite. I went around the cake board with some red grosgrain ribbon and added yellow rick rack on top of that. I think it is a cute detail for a child’s birthday cake.
The most challenging part of this cake was definitely the smokestack. I didn’t know how to make a hollow gumpaste cylinder, so there was a lot of experimenting. Finally I wrapped a very sturdy paper cylinder from a roll of plastic wrap in parchment paper. Then I rolled out a rectangle of blue gumpaste. I cut the gumpaste to the exact size needed to cover the roll, and wrapped it around. I sealed the seam with a bit of water and let the cylinder stand upright for a couple of days. Once the gumpaste was dry, I slid the paper roll out and was left with a hollow gumpaste tube. My previous trials taught me that the gumpaste will stick to the paper tube if you don’t wrap it in parchment.
Well that is the Scuffy cake! I hope you are inspired to read the story and maybe make a Scuffy cake or cupcakes of your own!