This Cake-osaurus Rex Craftsy class covers how to make a 3-D animal cake and is taught by Catherine Ruehle. She's another thorough explainer, and every step of how to design a simple carved cake is touched upon in this class.
It starts with how to make the design for the animal, then how to figure out the structural system based on that. It goes through each step of building the structure and carving the cake to get he right shape and accessories for the animal.
If you don't have any experience in carving cakes this is a good basic overview, and you'll be able to adapt the steps to make a different type of animal if you want to.
The gripe that I have with this class is that it makes it more difficult than it has to be, and the glaring safety issue of using a torch to attach the limbs to the cake just can't be overlooked.
This kind of animal cake really doesn't need a big internal PVC structure, you can just do it with regular cake stacking and dowelling. The basics of how she does the structure of the cake are very similar to how I would do this cake, but I wouldn't bother doing the PVC pipe, since it isn't that complicated a structure. Save yourself the time.
There were also some more weird things, like not icing the top of the cake at the base of the body before stacking them, and once again, using way too many dowels. There seems to be a theme in Craftsy classes, and that theme is "dowel the cake to within an inch of its life so that when people actually try to eat it everyone will get a dowel in their piece."
However, the weirdest thing was the use of the torch. Now I'll admit that I love whipping that torch out and burning things, but there's no reason that you need to do that here. She was using it to attach the limbs and tail to the body of the cake by melting the fondant at the seams, and in the meantime she was burning the crap out of the fondant. I was looking forward to seeing how using the torch would "add color and texture to the skin of the dinosaur" as the class advertised, but it just looked like a caramelized mistake. I can't see how this technique would be useful for other types of cakes because you can't melt fondant like that for every cake and have it make sense.
Not to mention that there were a couple of moments in the class when the boards that the cake was sitting on started to flare up and smoke. I rewound the class at one point to make sure I'd seen it correctly, and she did almost set the cake board on fire at one point. That's not good kitchen safety, so if you do try this method I'd be really careful. I suggest avoiding the torch and using melted candy melts as glue to attach the limbs, and food coloring as the color for the stripes on the skin. If you want to make textured skin some royal icing or melted candy melts patted on with a paper towel and left to dry will do it.
So my overall review:
Skill Level: Beginning skills with the willingness to be slightly adventurous.
Equipment You Have To Have: boards, dowels, bread knife for carving the cakes
Sleep-Inducing Level: High risk of nodding off, watching cakes being carved into an egg shape isn't that scintillating.
What It Assumes You
Already Know: How to work with fondant a little, how not to burn your kitchen up with a torch.
Unnecessary Difficulty Level Of Methods
Demonstrated: Too much internal structure used for this kind of simple cake, and the high level of unnecessary potential of burning your biscuits for a pretty small visual payoff.
Annoying Host Habits: Not a lot, she's good at explaining what she's doing as she's doing it.
Level of Helpful
Hints Learned: For someone who's never done a carved cake like this it would be helpful, but you don't need to make it so complicated.
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Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, online cake supplies at www.acaketoremember.com and www.acaketoremember.etsy.com