This cake was a last minute idea for the birthday of a very close friend of mine. Colleen is one of my best and oldest friends, and as you can probably guess, she loves owls. When I was first thinking about what to do for her, I thought about making a 3-D shaped owl cake or cupcakes. I looked at a lot of different owl images. Owls are very popular right now, but a lot of them seem a little too cartoonish, and I didn’t want the cake to look like it was for a child. I thought that I should stick with a “grown-up” color scheme and maybe something fashion related to fit Colleen. That is what brought me to the houndstooth pattern. Owls are wise and dignified and the houndstooth pattern, being very classic and timeless, seemed to fit, so putting them together just worked for me.
To make the owl, I used gum paste, which I make by adding tylose to my fondant. I like this method because it allows me to take already colored fondant that I have on hand and turn it into gum paste for modeling. I know there are commercial gum paste brands, but I have never used these. I also used gum paste for the houndstooth pattern. I cut each one of these with an x-acto knife. It was a painstaking process, and since then I have searched for and found a houndstooth cutter. The benefit of cutting by hand is that you can customize the pattern size to your cake.
When modeling figures, a scale like this Salter comes in very handy. I use it to measure small amounts of fondant and gum paste so that I will know how much to use next time. The owl is made of 3.3 ounces of chocolate brown gum paste.
I looked through all of my scalloped cutters hoping to find one that would be just right for the green part of the eye, but I couldn’t find one small enough so I ended up using a bismarck tip (Wilton #230) to cut the little half circles and make the scalloped detail. I continued to improvise with the bismarck tip and found that it worked wonderfully for making the little green feathers on the owl’s wing. For the white and black parts of the eye I used tip #2A and tip #1. I tinted some gum paste egg yellow, and used a small daisy plunge cutter to help make the feet.
This was such a fun cake to design and make, and I was honored to be able to make it to celebrate the birthday of an amazing friend!