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Making an Award Winning Panther Cake

Presented by Kim Fryer, Queensland

During one point I had to watch our cat walk down the stairs, to get the true angle of how the leg and paw would be positioned, as the cat’s foot was angled back.

When creating the Panther I researched the Internet for images in different stages of movement and studied many still photos, statues and images of Panthers.

 Angles of the shoulder and muscle structure played enormously to getting it right.

Ideas on how to construct the strength of the exhibit, came from armature construction such as from James Harold, which I used to construct the ‘Light Horse’ cake, although James used clay with an armature frame, not cake and fondant. The difficulty in using cake is keeping the stability and strength while ensuring the cake is safe to eat.

As there were a lot of new techniques used here I felt it was important to include progressive photographs and explanations for the competition, to help the Judges to understand the techniques used and the degree of difficulty.

A lot of work, but it was well worth the effort. By the way, that is the tail you see in the rear. Many newly invented techniques made it an interesting and unique exhibit. The panther scored the highest ever score of 100% in qcda history and received the champion prize for the show.

After consideration of how I wanted the exhibit to look, the board was constructed so that wooden blocks were fitted to the board, at the correct heights for the Panther’s feet, to ensure stability and to give the effect of movement. Strong wire was used to make the armature, which was then wrapped in food safe plastic tubing.

A wooden strengthening pillar supported an acrylic board onto which the cake was constructed. Food safe covered wire was shaped to mirror bone structure for the legs and tail, and that was fitted through holes in acrylic board. A dessert spoon was wired into place to support the head, thus the best food safe support I can recommend. The fruitcake was then added to form the rock base and then to make the shape of the Panther.

I placed bands of hot icing fondant onto the cake (this is a technique I came up with, which is to heat the fondant, giving it strength as it cools and will set harder than normal). This enabled me to position the cake under the belly and wrap this icing under for support.

Muscles and shape were sculpted over time. My technique of applying copha to the fondant made it similar to clay for shaping.

This all looked great as a marble statue but I had to bring it to life. Now the eyes were fitted into pressed in holes. The eyelids were brought down over them. Later they would have leaf glaze painted on for shine. It took 8 sets of eyes before I was content.

Then the fur: More softened copha was applied, then black color dust, was sponged on, then applied thickly with a brush in vast amounts in several coats. The copha allowed the color to adhere and as it seeped through the dust became fur like, giving it a thick coat on the panther, even under the belly. As you can see cling film was applied over the rock and board, as it was very messy.

When the fur was complete the rock and grass on the board were next. To add another dimension, sugar crystals, which took me around five months to grow were added to caves in the rock

Then the mouth with teeth and tongue were added. Whiskers and nails were fitted.

These were made from a mixture based on tylose and sugar, a recipe which I came up with to create them. They were opaque like real whiskers and completely flexible and edible.

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