I don’t take cake orders. I don’t have a regular business, so pretty much if I’m making a cake for someone, it’s because it’s a charitable effort I support, a close friend, or in exchange for some other favour. So when a friend brokered a deal whereby her other friend, an astronomer, would come to my kid’s party to talk about real space science in exchange for me doing a cake for his kid, I was okay with that.
When I found out that the other kid wanted something about rats and maybe zombies, I was intrigued.
When I asked if they wanted a zombie rat and the mom said yes, I was happy.
When I hesitantly suggested that, if it didn’t offend them, I could get moderately gory and even make the thing bleed when cut and she said that’d be great, I was elated.
When I pushed further and said, “No really, I can make this super-gory if you want,” and she told me to go for it because her kid was now basing his entire party on the idea of having a gross zombie rat cake, I grinned a delightful grin of cakey horror.
Being the proper sort of evil scientist that I am – or at least play on the internet – the first task was to run some tests on how to make a capsule of edible blood inside a cake that would rupture and bleed when cut, all in a food-friendly manner. I posted previously about the recipe for fake, edible blood I assembled based on several other recipes I found online, so I already had a bowl of that made up. Next, I made a cylinder of spare modelling chocolate and mostly filled it with the fake blood:
Then I folded in the top and sealed it up, which was really easy to do with the modelling chocolate:
Next I took some leftover cake from the Alien Dog (left over mostly because we all ended up ill after Peo’s party so most of the leftover cake didn’t get eaten) and put it all around the capsule, including some chunks of fondant:
Then I sliced through it all with a serrated knife as if I was cutting cake with a blood-filled capsule inside, and it worked! Slowly, but it definitely bled!
Knowing that not everyone is into modelling chocolate, I decided it was worthwhile doing a test of a fondant capsule. I made one the same way, although the end didn’t smooth together quite as well just because of the nature of the medium:
I then let that one sit overnight to see if it would leak or if the colour would penetrate in any way. I had been reasonably certain that the fat in the chocolate would keep the fake blood inside, but I wasn’t sure if it’d soak through fondant or not. It turned out that it doesn’t, so you can definitely use fondant to make a blood capsule as well. Just be sure to have it fully sealed up. It cut and bled the same as the modelling chocolate:
Once the tests were done and I was reasonably certain I could make the thing bleed when cut, it was time to start the actual cake!
I happened to win some diamond-shaped pans in a Bake a Wish raffle recently and I realized they were inherently rat-shaped. Well okay, normal people don’t look at a diamond that way, but you didn’t come here for normal, did you? No. I didn’t think so. A rat is pretty much a pointy head that extends out to a wider backside and then tapers back quickly to a tail, so the diamond fits with minimal cutting compared to a rectangle.
I did a double-mix of a vanilla cake with some Americolor Super Red added, put most of it in the 15×11″ diamond and then a bit in the 10.25×7.4″ one. The smaller was so I could make some mouldy cheese beside the rat.
I baked them, and happily the larger one also puffed up bigger on one side, which made it easy to orient with that part at the back.
I did cut the swollen part off of the top of the larger one at first so I could put some red-tinted buttercream in there, put it back on, and then trimmed the sides as shown in the photo below, with blue lines representing the original edges.
I then put some of those larger cut-offs on top as well with more buttercream to round out the entire shape.
Then I covered the whole thing with buttercream and stuck it in the fridge to firm up. That made it very stable so I could then safely cut a hole into the head and neck for the blood capsule, which I tried to shape to the cake somewhat with that pointed tip.
After reassembling the neck, I put another layer of buttercream over it and put it back in the fridge to firm up again.
Meanwhile, I assembled the cheese cake by cutting the smaller diamond cake in half, stacking it with white buttercream, and then cutting it down in a slope. I covered it in more buttercream, then chilled it as well. Once it was firm, I used a melon baller (which has never actually been used on a melon since that’s a ridiculously wasteful way to serve melon) to cut out some holes.
Once the rat cake was solid again, I applied one more thin coat of buttercream to level everything out and be able to carve in some underlying detail such as the leg folds. Doing this under fondant really helps shape the fondant later on a carved cake. I also completely cleaned up the board during this stage so there’d be no stray crumbs or buttercream to get in my way on the next steps.
I popped it back in the fridge one more time while I rolled out some red fondant, having measured the widest points of the cake with a measuring tape so I knew my minimum sizes. Then I brought it back out and because it was humid, the condensation was enough to stick the fondant on. On a dry day, I may have lightly spritzed the buttercream with water after getting hard in the fridge, just to ensure adhesion.
Once the fondant was put over the cake, I used my hands to smooth it to the pre-existing curves, including using the sides of my hands to form leg indentations. Again, I knew I’d be covering those with more stuff later, but building your cake structure from the inside out pays off in overall styling later.
I likewise covered the cheese cake with yellow fondant and put it in place. I left it off of the board until I had the rat covered because I know my weaknesses in terms of carrying large sheets of fondant over cakes and decided to minimize my pain and trauma by having the cheese cake completely out of the way until I had the rat covered and stable.
Next I marbled a bit of black food colouring into some purple fondant and rolled that extremely thin in sheet sections to cover the entire rat, sticking it to the red with a light brush of water. Then I quickly went around and cut/picked bits of this skin away, leaving ragged flaps and gashes all over. I then went back over those to drizzle a bit of the fake blood.
I sculpted some grey-green modelling chocolate feet, including some missing toes with little protruding white fondant bones. I rolled a tail out of that modelling chocolate as well and put it into place, using a knife to score lines all the way down and then hack out a couple of wounds. I made a green fondant nose, black fondant eyes (with one falling out of its socket on the end of blue and red entwined veins/nerves), and grey-green modelling chocolate ears. The technique for getting the ears thin at the ends is the basic petal-edging technique with a ball tool, which to this day I’ve never actually used for a petal. Heh.
I poked some wounds into the ears as well, and shaped a couple of protruding spine bits for the top, plus the exposed ribs on the other side, and tucked those into the skin folds.
I also hacked at the skin with a knife to make a sort of fur pattern, because I wasn’t actually 100% certain at this point if I was going to pipe on fur or not. I decided the hack-job fur wasn’t good enough, but it did make for a good messed-up zombie skin under the fur later.
Since I decided it did need more fur, especially to help it look mangey, I used the grass tip with grey royal icing to put batches of fur in varying length all over, frequently ensuring that some strands hung down over open wounds to give it a more naturally matted look.
Once that royal icing was firm, I airbrushed the whole thing to give the fur realistic tones and texture. I hit it with purple, grey, green, and a bit of brown in varying layers. After, I used a wet brush to clean the airbrush paint off of the exposed bone bits, and the remnants on the edges made for subtle highlighting. Where necessary, I also dripped more blood to clean off any excess airbrush paint.
Likewise, I airbrushed the cheese. First I hit it with some white to make it look more cheese-like, then I added mouldy patches of blue, green, and purple. I ran some brown around the base for some shading, then repeated the various colours as necessary for even blending.
Voila, the finished cake!
Of course I had to deliver the thing intact so I wasn’t there to see if it bled or not. Thankfully, the recipients sent a video of it being cut, during which children and adults equally squeal, groan, and shout, “Ewwwww!”, all of which made me cackle insanely as I watched. But it’s a private video so I can’t share it. However, it did definitely bleed, and an unexpected bonus of having used white modelling chocolate (which I meant to tint red but forgot…I mean…I did that on purpose, yeah!) was that it was perceived as bone, especially as it came off of hollow disks. So disgusting, so awesome!
Here are some non-personal screencaps from the video:
So there you have it: you too can make a bleeding cake. You could certainly run a modelling chocolate tube all through a cake so it would bleed if cut at any point, and modelling chocolate would give better flexibility for that with less likelihood of early leakage. You could make an entire set of entrails stuffed with all manner of gooey colours to erupt when sliced. Ewwww. Heh heh heh…
If you make something wonderfully disgusting based on this, post a link to your photos in comments!