Last year I attempted a Super Bowl cake that fortunately nobody was forced to eat, thanks to the blizzard that kept us home. This year we were hosting the party, so I needed something definitely edible at least, and since I feel my cake skills have grown immensely over the Year of Cake, I wanted it to be … superb.
SuperbOwl Sunday Funday
My sister-in-law gave me the first two seasons of Ace of Cakes for Christmas, and not too long before Super Bowl Sunday I saw the episode where they did the zoo benefit cake with the huge flamingos. Those were pretty awesome, and I thought trying something with modeling chocolate feathers would be fun.
Obviously a Superb Owl would be perfect to try this out, so I started image searching for ideas.
Sometimes when I come across a cake that is exactly what I was thinking of doing, I get a little annoyed — I’m an innovator! But after a nauseating amount of cartoonish owl cakes, and one really spectacular realistic one, I was very excited to find this gem from Gloverly Cupcakes that looked exactly like I was picturing. It gave me a really nice template, to which I only made very slight edits.
First, I didn’t use any fondant or Mexican modeling paste (I don’t even know what that is). I used modeling chocolate: 7 oz batches of both dark and white. I made the dark chocolate first, several days early. Unfortunately I didn’t wrap it well, so it dried out. No problem — it just took a few minutes of hard kneading, a bit at a time, to get it from crumbles to workable consistency (meaning it was kind of like a Tootsie Roll).
I had already decided that the owl itself would be three 4-inch rounds, sitting on a 6-inch round base, with 2 cupcakes for the head. Gloverly did theirs with all 6-inch, but I didn’t need that much extra cake. Also, having different sizes saved me some work in cutting it down.
My Guinness Ginger Cake recipe made enough for all the layers, though despite heavy greasing of the pans, they all stuck.
Fortunately the white chocolate buttercream would hold it all together just fine. I trimmed one side of the cupcakes slightly flatter for the face. I used some of the trimmings to fill out the sides of the head to make it a little rounder, and it looked great.
Then I frosted it all and was done for the night. I wanted to cover it, but it was too tall, so I fashioned a makeshift cage out of my stackable cooling racks and some plastic wrap.
The next day I applied the chocolate feathers. I started on the face. I make a chocolate snake to make the outline and then cut feathers for around the eyes. The Wilton small rose leaf suggested by Gloverly was too large for my mini-owl, so I cut them by hand. Some dark chocolate eyes, texture on the outline by dotting it with the veining tool, a chocolate beak, and a little chocolate powder shadowing the eyes finished the face.
I was able to use the cutter for the breast feathers. I did those and then moved onto the dark chocolate back feathers (rolling this all out using my pasta machine, by the way, so they would be nice and even), and then I remembered I meant to texturize them using the leaf vein mats from the Wilton set I got for my mom’s wedding cake. It was too late for the white chocolate feathers, so I scored those by hand using the veining tool, but I removed the few dark chocolate feathers I’d applied and pressed them onto the mat. It was a simple step that added a lot to the final effect.
I switched to the larger rose leaf cutter for the wings and tail feathers, and things moved pretty quickly.
I dyed some leftover frosting green for the base and some white modeling chocolate green for the leaves on top, using the ivy leaf template. I had some yellow frosting in a decorating back my fridge leftover from something or other, which I used to label my feathered friend.
I used some of the leftover modeling chocolate to make the logos for the teams, but they didn’t fit on the cake, so I put them on some cupcakes (much to the delight of my four-year-old).
Hope everyone enjoyed the game. (Except Cam, obviously. He had a bad time.)