Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Snake Cake and Cake Recipe

How the Snake Cake Came into Existence

I have been making specialty cakes over the last few months and a friend asked me to make a "Snake Cake" for her son's birthday. I thought, "Sure, I can do that," thinking I would just have to carve a figure in the shape of an "S" out of a couple of sheet cakes and decorate it . . then she showed me the picture. The example she showed me was originally done by North Star Cakes in the UK and looked like a real snake . . kind of like a Boa Constrictor! I thought to
myself, "Yikes! How am I going to do this?" But I told her, "Yes, I will do it," with confidence.

I have seen many people asking online how to replicate the snake cake. The original creator of the cake didn't want to share her secret . .  which I can understand as that is her primary business. I am sure she has a much better technique to making the cake and better baking supplies! But I will share what I did to make the cake for anyone who wants to give it a try.

Supplies Needed:

2 Bunt cake pans
2 Square 11" Wilton cake pans
Wilton 8" Separator Plate - Scalloped Round
Wilton cake base support tubes
Wilton Trim 'Turn Cake Turntable
Food coloring
Material with corrugated snake-skin pattern
Paint brushes
Cake, frosting & fondant ingredients


Baking the Snake Cake:

1. Step 1: Make your cakes
I looked for several months for a recipe that would replicate a Super Target or Coborns cake. With many failed attempts, I stumbled upon this recipe . . it is just like a store bought cake, super easy to make and everyone loves it!
The recipe is as follows for two bunt cake pans: Important to use bunt cake pans when creating the Snake Cake. When making the Snake Cake, one batch of this recipe will make enough cake mixture for a square base cake. I use two 11" square pans.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray pans with Pam (flour/oil mixture). I prefer using Wilton brand cake pans as they cook much more evenly and come out of the pan cleanly.
  • 1 box of Duncan Hines white cake mix
  • 1 cup cake or regular flour
  • 1 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla
  • 2 eggs
*If you are making a chocolate cake, use chocolate cake mix and add 1/2 cup cocoa (depending on how dark you want the cake) and some extra milk and sugar.

  • This is a super easy recipe that comes out like a store bought cake every time! 
  • Mix dry ingredients then mix in all other ingredients. You can even mix them all together at the same time if you are in a hurry and it will turn out great! 
  • Bake at 350 for about 22 minutes. Check with toothpick to see if center is done. Wilton pans work the best and cook most thoroughly. 
  • Mix will make 3 - 8" round pans, 2 - 11" square pans or 36 cupcakes.
  • Double the recipe to make a half sheet cake. 

Preparing the Snake Cake:

Step 2: Freeze the Cakes

Cover the cakes with foil, but leave some room open for condensation to escape with foil not too tight. Then put into freezer. If you have the time, let the cakes freeze overnight. Otherwise, let cakes freeze for at least a couple hours.

The reasons for freezing are twofold: First, freezing will hold moisture in better. Second, the cake can be carved and frosted while it's frozen, but not as easily while it is soft.

Step 3: Making the Frosting

Buttercream frosting recipe:

  • 2 Sticks salted sweetcream butter (softened)
  • 2 lbs of C&H powdered sugar ( I only use C&H brand as I have found other brands such as Crystal and generic brands are generally grainy)
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla (measure to your liking)
  • 2 tsp. pure almond (measure to your liking)
  • 2 -8 tbsp. heavy whipping cream ..  for a more whipped frosting, use more whipping cream.
Beat butter and flavorings together, then add powdered sugar and heavy whipping cream. Frosting will thicken upon adding more powdered sugar. Make sure to add more flavoring if you add more
sugar. Set aside in a covered bowl.

Step 4: Making the Fondant

   I use a recipe I found on, except without the glycerine. The recipe is as 
  • 1 tbsp. unflavored gelatin
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 lbs. of powdered sugar
  Sprinkle gelatin over water in a microwavable bowl. Let sit for 2 minutes. Put in microwave for 30 
  second. Mix in almond and corn syrup until it is a clear mixture. Put in microwave for a few more 
  seconds if it is not a clear or nearly clear mixture. Pour 3/4 of the 2 lb bag of powdered sugar into a  
  bowl with a hole in middle. Pour mixture into hole in the middle of the sugar and mix together with 
  a wooden spoon. After mixture becomes more solid, you can knead on a powdered surface and 
  knead the rest of the 2 lb. bag into mixture, until it is a pliable, non-sticky mass. Use shortening on  
  hands if necessary. To color, knead food coloring into fondant mixture . . you may need to add 
  more powdered sugar to keep from being too sticky. Set aside in a covered bowl. You can also freeze the   fondant and it will keep for a couple months if well wrapped.

Now the Fun Begins!

Step 5: Playing with Fondant . . Making the Snake Head

Find an image of what you want your cake to look like . . I would suggest a real snake picture. Take your fondant, uncolored, and model it into a snake head .. this will take some time. I did all my practicing and playing with fondant the night before to make sure I had it right. The snake head will store in the refridgerator if covered. If you are finding that the fondant is too pliable, knead in more powdered sugar. I used red and brown food coloring to make eyes. I carved out an eye socket, rolled up a ball for the eye and inserted into socket. Any carving tool can be used to make the inserts for nose and whatever other orifices a snake has. Carve a snakeskin pattern on the top of the snake head. Make sure you include the neck of the snake that will blend into the body. When snake head is to your liking, mix some food coloring with water in a small bowl. Brush over the head of snake with paint brush . . leave some white spots.

Step 6: Prepare the Base Cake

Take square cakes out of freezer. Carefully cut off 1/4" of cake edge around both cakes. Make sure your cutting is straight. Stack cakes to make sure they are the same size . . if not, cut edges accordingly . . should be a nice square when stacked. Place buttercream frosting on first cake top and stack second cake on top. Then frost both cakes with colored frosting of choice . . I used brown buttercream.

Step 7: Preparing the Snake Cake Body:

Carve your frozen cakes into a "snake body." Take bunt cakes out of freezer and place upside down on top of eachother . . in the shape of a donut . .  with buttercream frosting in between cakes. It is important cakes are thoroughly frozen, or they will fall apart when being carved and frosted. Place donut-shaped "snake body" on a Wilton round plastic platter. I put the cake onto a round cookie sheet and placed it on a Wilton rotating cake decorator base. The proceed to carve the two bunt cakes into what looks like the body of a boa constrictor. You will need a sharp knive to do this. Gently shave around edges toward the bottom of the cake to make the coils of the body. This will take some careful examination of the original picture and shape of the body. Make sure to save some of the shavings of the cake to "cut and fill" where needed. I filled in the top of the cake with the extra shavings from the bottom of the cake.

When cake body is close to picture or original cake, spread 1/4" buttercream frosting onto body.

Step 8: Playing with Fondant: Making the Snake Skin!

This gets a little tricky. Find some sort of material (ie . . straw cowboy hat, purse, handbag, etc.) that you can press onto the fondant after it is rolled out, to make the "snake skin." I used my son's straw cowboy hat . . shhh (don't tell him).

Roll out the fondant on a non-stick surface (I used shortening on my cutting board) to about 1/8" - 1/4" thick. Disinfect whatever material you are using to make a snake pattern with with a spray disinfectant ..  then rinse thoroughly! Press material onto fondant to make the fondant look like snake skin. Take a flat utensil and loosen up bottom of fondant from surface before moving. Lift fondant off counter and place on the "snake body." It is easier to lift fondant off in square sections, than using the whole sheet of fondant. Put fondant on top of frosted "snake body."

Cover entire "snake body" with "snake skin" fondant.

Smooth seams of fondant together with a little bit of water and a smooth butterknife. Cut off extra fondant around base.

Place "snake head"  on top of the center of the "snake body." Look carefully at the skin pattern of the original picture of the snake and do your best to replicate with soft paint brush and food-colored water. Be careful not to rub off snake-skin pattern with paint brush. When paint has dried, coat entire snake with canola oil with a soft, clean paint brush.
Create support for "snake body" in cake base . . the cake will be very heavy and collapse the bottom cake unless supported. Take the bottom of the "snake body" support . . the Wilton cake base . . and press imprints onto the bottom cake so you know where to place cake support tubes. I use Wilton cake support tubes and cut them to depth of cake, then insert unpright into cake. Place "snake body" that is already placed on plastic support platter, onto the tubes inserted into the base cake.

Step 9: Final Touches

Decorate base of cake to your preference. I chose to decorate base with a green, grass-like design. Here are some different angles of the cake should you decide to use this one as a model.

Bring to your Birthday Boy . . or Girl . . and Serve up!

 If interested in ordering a "Snake Cake" check out "Gracie Cakes" on Facebook and send a message.


Anonymous said...

This is super cool!!:)

Anonymous said...

You have saved me!! My grand-daughter is turning 16 and this is the cake she requested! I have made most of her birthday cakes and she knows she is challenging me with this one but now I feel like I can really do this! You simplified it so well. Thank you!

Traci LeBrun said...

Hope it turned out for you! I wish you could post a picture :/

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