How to Make a Sculpted Lion Cake
I’m finally going to do it and tell you how I made the Lion Cake. I’ve gotten so many requests for instructions, but have never really helped too many people with it, just because of how long my emails would be to everyone who asked for it. I hope by writing this entry, I can eliminate having to write a detailed description to many people.
I had only been designing and building cakes for 1 year when I made this, so yes, there are many things I would do differently. And of course, again, there is that side of me that is still not satisfied with this cake, but I have received so many compliments for this cake, so that I am happy with that.
*Spherical ball pans can be purchased at any cake decorating supply store.
*You can choose to have an alternate filling to the buttercream that you are using to frost, but you should remember to choose something really stable like a different flavored buttercream or ganache.
*Your cakes should all be wrapped in plastic wrap and well-chilled before you assemble.
3 6-inch half-sphere cakes (for head and neck)
3 6-inch round cakes, 2-inches high each (for body)
1 12-inch square cake (for legs)
buttercream, LOTS of buttercream (use meringue buttercream, not american-style frosting)
support dowels or straight drinking straws
wooden skewers and toothpicks
1 6-inch cardboard cake board
1 5-inch cardboard cake board
1 cake drum, 12-inches or larger
a large grass/hair decorating tip with pastry bag
1 large plain decorating tip (like #804)
fondant or gumpaste (for ears, eyes and tail)
Yellow, orange, brown gel pastes
First prepare the cake drum if you are covering it with anything. If you are using fondant, remember to allow for it to dry a day or two before you put the cake together.
Mold lion ears and eyes out of fondant or gumpaste a few days before. Marzipan or any other type of modeling paste is fine for this. Alternately you can use black jelly beans for the eyes. When dry, paint the eyes with black luster dust or black gel paste mixed in with a little bit of vodka.
Using your drawn templates, cut out pieces for the 4 legs out of the 12-inch square cake. The front legs should be trimmed a bit differently from the hind legs depending on the placement on the body. If you feel confident enough, cut and trim them freehand. Wrap them up in plastic and chill until ready to use.
Assemble the cake:
Trim the tops of the round cakes if they are domed at all. Pipe buttercream on the top of one cake and place 6-inch cardboard cake board on top. Flip over and gently press cake onto the board. Pipe buttercream or filling onto that layer and place a second trimmed cake upside-down on top of that. Place support dowels or straws into the 2 layers and trim to match the top level. Pipe or spread a thin layer of buttercream on top and place the 5-inch cake board onto it. Gently press down so the cake feels solidly put together. Pipe some buttercream on top of that and place the last trimmed cake round upside-down onto that board. Again fill with buttercream and place 1 of the 6-inch half-spheres on top round side up. Trim the body with a serrated knife to how you see fit. I recommend trimming the sides of the half sphere a bit depending on where the front legs are going.
Take another half sphere and pipe some buttercream on the flat side. Pipe a large dab of buttercream on the top of the body. Place a skewer through the center. Measure and trim the skewer so it will penetrate through to top of of the head, but not all the way. Stick the filled half-sphere round side down, through the skewer so the bottom half of the head is sitting on top of the body. Place about 3 more trimmed skewers through the bottom half, down to the body. Make sure all the skewers are hitting the cake board in the middle of the body. Place the final half sphere, flat side down onto the bottom half of the head, so that you have the head and body assembled together.
Set aside (if you are setting aside for a while, wrap it up and refrigerate).
When putting the whole thing together take a small mound of fondant and mold it for the nose. Stick some toothpicks into the side. Pipe some buttercream onto the face, where you will be placing the nose and stick the nose on. Pipe some royal icing or glue onto the cake drum, where you will be placing the body, and attach the cake to it.
Pipe the fur onto the body:
Color several cups of buttercream yellow with some orange in it. You’ll want color some of it brown for the mane. You can alternately use cocoa powder instead of brown food coloring for this. If piping the nose and mouth, you will also need a small amount of black buttercream and white buttercream.
Fill your pastry bag, fitted with the large grass decorating tip, with the golden buttercream. Start at the bottom of the body, piping around until you reach the top of the body. Make sure you leave empty spaces for the joints, where the legs will be attached. Pipe some of the bottom of the face near the neck area. Stop piping the head at this time.
Take your legs and fit them with toothpicks where they will be attached to the body. Attach the hind legs first, by piping some buttercream onto the bare joint areas for the hind legs and then attaching the legs where you have attached toothpicks. Pipe fur around the joints first, and the inside of the legs to out. When finished you might choose to chill the cake for a little bit until the buttercream is a cold.
Continue on with the front legs. Pipe fur onto the bottom sides of the front legs that won’t be touching the cake drum or the body. If you attach the limbs without piping this fur, it may be very difficult to pipe those areas later. Pipe some buttercream onto the bare joint areas on the body. Carefully handling the front legs, so you don’t smear the piped fur, stick the legs onto the joints of the body with toothpicks. You are now ready to finish piping the fur onto the legs.
Pipe on the face and mane:
Pipe the golden buttercream fur onto the face of the lion, leaving the nose area. Use a plain decorating tip for the black buttercream or royal icing to pipe on the nose and the mouth. You can also pipe short white fur around it or just choose to leave it as the smooth white fondant.
Stick the ears onto the head, using toothpicks and buttercream. Pipe short golden fur around the rim and backside of the ears. Fill a pastry bag, fitted with the large plain tip, with the brown buttercream. Start at the bottom of the mane and work you way up. Pipe carefully around the ears so they are still visible.
Attach the black eyes. Color some fondant with a bit of yellow and orange. Roll fondant into a thick rope for the tail. Make it as short or long as you want.Attach at one end with toothpicks to the back of the lion. Pipe brown fur at the other end in the style of a paintbrush. You are finally done!