Monday, February 25, 2013

Craftsy Class Review: Advanced Cake Sculpting Bobbleheads

Click here to go to the class
This Craftsy class was taught by Mike McCarey, who owns Mike's Amazing Cakes.

Okay, so from the title you'd think that the cake will be about how to make a bobblehead cake, right? It says "bobblehead cakes" after all. Well, I have a huge gripe with this class. The cake doesn't bobble. What the heck?

He basically takes five minutes to explain why he isn't showing how to make a bobblehead cake. Well fine, then don't call the class "Bobblehead Cakes", Craftsy! Call it something like "3-D Caricature Cakes" or "3-D People Cakes." There's no bobbling going on here, and don't tell me that you can't explain how to do it, because I've seen plenty of cakes that do have moving heads on them.

So that's my major complaint about this class, which is a shame, because the rest of the information in the class is really thorough. Even if you've never done a standing figure cake before you'll be able to do it if you follow the directions carefully. It probably won't be easy, but it's possible.

Please note: A reader wrote to the Mythic Paint company and asked them if their paint was safe for food use. They said that it is NOT meant to be used with food, and they were concerned that it was being used in this class to paint the structure. Please use melted chocolate instead of the paint!

Mike McCarey is pretty hyper, which started grating on me, but part of that might be that there's so much to this kind of cake that he had to pack it all into a short time period. When he was actually working on the cake itself he calmed down and concentrated on what he was doing, so the hyper was mostly saved for the in-between steps chatter.

He did a really good job explaining the mechanics of the structure and why you do certain things, or use certain materials rather than others. The specifics of the carving process were explained really well as he was doing it, and the steps are all things that you can take from the lesson and use on other types of carved cakes as well. If you've never carved a cake before, you could learn a LOT from this, just based on the explanations that he gives about how you make decisions about how to do things.

He also loves those patterns, doesn't he? Good Lord, I could scale up the shape of a head and draw up a rough sketch in the time it took him to talk about going back and forth to the print shop ten times to get your fifty enlargements. If you're totally unable to figure out a scale drawing, start paying for enlargements. Otherwise, take some photos, get out a ruler, and make some scale patterns of your own to work from.

The part about putting the structure together could give some people trouble, since it requires a lot of power tools and would be difficult to do if you don't have access to those. You might be able to get someone at a hardware store to make the structure for you, or to cut the specific pieces that you need to do it yourself if you have a drill but no saws. I've built this kind of structure before, and if you're missing certain tools it can make your job really difficult.

So the bottom line is that the class is very good for carving and structure-building tips, but it's NOT a bobblehead cake class. If you're experienced in cake carving and you wanted to see how to make a cake with a head that moves, this isn't the class to buy.

Final Verdict:
Skill Level: To make the actual 3-D person cake, intermediate to advanced. To learn structure and carving tips, beginner to intermediate.
Equipment you have to have: Lots of power tools, knife for carving, basic decorating tools.
Sleep-inducing level: Not so bad, but he's so hyper I was kind of wishing that he'd be a little more sleep-inducing.
What it assumes you already know: How to handle fondant and modelling chocolate. This probably wouldn't be a good first-fondant project, since it involves covering odd shapes.
Unnecessary difficulty level of methods demonstrated: Way too many templates. Unless you're a total carving noob, and have no ability to draw scale patterns on your own. They might be helpful then, but you probably don't need to get twelve enlargements of every angle of the person. He didn't seem to use all of the photos that he had taken, anyway.
Annoying host habits: Like I said, he's hyper, but it's more a "I'm being amusing to make this fun" kind of hyper. I find that annoying and wanted to tell him to calm down. I can see that he probably had to be a fast-talker to get all the information in, though.
Level of helpful hints learned: I've done a lot of cakes that needed structural stuff like this, so in terms of the building of it for me, not so much. If you were looking for a bobblehead forget it, but if you want a good basic look at how to build a standing cake, this would be really good. For a beginner this would give you a good idea of how to go about making decisions about how to build a 3-D cake.

I'd say that this would be worth paying full price if you've never built a 3-D cake that required an internal structure. If you've done something like that before then buying it on sale would probably give you some tips that you could use without making you irritated that you paid too much. If all you want to do is see how to make a cake's head move, save your cash.

 Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC in Richmond VA, and cake supplies online at and

1 comment:

Eva Farragher said...

Is it just me, or does anyone else find these sorts of cake figures quite unappealing? I mean, unpleasant to look at. Ugly. Yeah, ugly.