This post on cake dummies is a beginner article for those who are new to the world of cake decorating.
If you have heard the word ‘cake dummy’ but not sure what it is or how it is used in cake decorating, you will get your answers here.
Let me start by showing you what cake dummies look like. There you go:
These are basically Styrofoam blocks that are cut into cake shapes (the most common ones are round and square, but other shapes are also available) in varying heights (again, the most common height that I have seen are 3 inches and 4 inches high).
The main intention of cake dummies is to replace real cake. And there are a couple of reasons why anyone would want to use a dummy cake instead of real cakes.
These are the most common reasons why I use cake dummies:
Yes, most certainly can.
To cover the dummies with buttercream or other frostings of similar consistency (like royal icing and ganache), the process is pretty straightforward. Just cover it in the exact same way as you would a normal cake. The plus point here is that you need not crumb coat it to lock any cake crumbs or level the sides, therefore can apply the final coat of buttercream directly on it.
Yes, most certainly can too.
As for fondant, depending on the size of the foam blocks you are using, there might a bit of prep work to do before you can cover the dummies. This is because, most of the time, there are tiny holes or lines or dents on the Styrofoam which if not smoothed, can show on the fondant once its covered over the dummies. Also, if you wish to make double barrel (tall dummy cakes) cakes and need to use 2 or more stacked blocks of styrofoam, you will have to prepare the dummies or rather patch up the joints with royal icing before covering it with fondant. This is more so when making double barrel cakes with Styrofoam dummies. Let me show you how I normally prepare my cake dummies before covering them with fondant.
This however, can only be used if when there is no patch work on the dummy. In such cases, I use a wide brush to wet the dummy. After that, I just roll my fondant and cover the dummy as I would a normal cake.
Some cake decorators like to smooth the edges of the dummies before covering with fondant. This will give the fake cakes a slightly rounded edge. To smooth the sides, you can use a fine sand paper or simply use your rolling pin and rub it on the edges to make it rounded. I for one, do not like to smooth the edges of my cake dummies as I prefer my cake to have very sharp edges after covering with fondant.
If you are unable to find a single block of styrofoam tall enough on its own to create a double barrel cake, you can use stack 2 blocks of foam in the same size to achieve the height of the cake you want. For example, if you want to make a 6 inch tall cake and do not have a single block that measures 6 inches in height, you would need to stack 2 blocks of 3 inches high dummies to get the 6 inches height for your cake. To stick the dummies, I would strongly suggest to use hot glue that it works the best in holding the blocks firmly together. I have tried with royal icing, but it not to be as stable as the hot glue.
In applying the hot glue, try to apply it consistently all around the top surface of the block. Concentrating only one one side will leave you with an uneven double barrel block of cake dummy.
Good news when using dummies for tiered cakes is that dummies do not require doweling since they are hard. If you are stacking a dummy on a real cake, the real cake underneath would require doweling, but if you are placing a real cake on a dummy, then doweling is not required for the dummy.
Storing cake dummies is easy, you can keep them anywhere so long as it’s clean especially if they are to be used with real cake.
Storing decorated dummy cakes however, can be a little tricky, depending on your environment. I normally have to keep mine covered in large plastic bags (clean garbage bags) or else I get tiny holes on the fondant on the cakes when I wake up the next morning (eaten by house lizards!).
Cake dummies can be reused, meaning you can use them for multiple projects. I have done this for my dummies, especially those that I make for family since its easier to retrieve the dummies from them. To reuse, simply scrap off all the icing and wash the dummy thoroughly. Dab them and let them dry in open air until they are completely dry before storing for future reuse. It is much easier to wash the dummies when covered in royal icing or fondant, but buttercream can be a lot harder to wash and clean completely due to the grease.
I have also seen people wrapping their blocks with cling wrap before covering with fondant or buttercream so that the can reuse their blocks again. I have personally not tried working with dummies this way, but this is definitely another option.
And that is pretty much all I have to share with you on working with Styrofoam dummies for cake decorating. If you have any other ideas or suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.
Hope this was useful.
Happy Decorating :)
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