Two years ago I made my first carved cake which was a 2D Iggle Piggle cake, it feels like a very long time ago! I have had lots of requests for information on how I made this cake so I have attempted my first tutorial.
I would be really grateful for comments if you feel I haven’t explained something clearly or you need a bit more information. I would also love to see pictures of the cakes you make using my tutorial, please send them to me and I will post a few on my blog.
Here is the finished cake!
The template you use (explained later) can be any size you like but for the tutorial I will give you guidance on making the cake with a 10 inch square cake pan. The cake feeds about 15 to 20 people, possibly a few more if you make it 3 layers high. For the tutorial I baked one 10 inch square cake and split it into two layers. You could use two (or three) tins if you prefer to bake the layers separately.
10 inch vanilla sponge cake recipe
- 625g unsalted butter
- 625g caster sugar (preferably golden)
- 12 medium eggs
- 625g self raising flour
- 2 ½ tsp vanilla essence
Pre heat your oven to 160 °C/ 325 °F/ Gas mark 3, grease the tin or tins with butter and line the base with baking paper.
- In a large mixer or a large bowl using a hand mixer, beat the sugar and the butter until it is light and fluffy. This could take several minutes.
- Very gradually add the eggs. If you add them too quick the mixture could curdle. If it does start to curdle, don’t panic, add a bit of the flour and then continue adding the eggs.
- Mix in the vanilla essence.
- Gradually mix in the flour.
- After a couple of minutes, remove the bowl and use a spatula around the bowl to make sure everything is fully combined. Mix it for a further minute if you feel it needs it.
- Put your cake mixture in your prepared cake tin or tins and spread evenly. If you are using two cake tins, separate the cake mixture evenly into the tins.
- Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes if you are baking one cake or 25 minutes if you have split the mixture in two. Check the cake at this point with a skewer and if it comes out clean it is cooked. If not, cook the cakes for a couple of minutes at a time checking each time to see if they are cooked.
- Once cooked, place the cake on a wire rack until it is completely cool. If you plan to use the sponge the following day, wrap it in cling film and put in an air tight container.
- 165g unsalted butter
- 90ml semi skimmed milk
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla essence
- 750g icing sugar
Mix the butter, milk, vanilla essence and half the icing sugar. I initially mix by hand with a spatula to avoid an icing explosion when I turn my mixer on. Once smooth and combined, add the remaining icing sugar and mix again until smooth.
If you are making the icing a day or few hours in advance, transfer to an air tight container or cover the icing in the mixing bowl with cling film. This saves the icing forming a crust layer. The icing can be stored in the fridge for up to a week. When you remove the icing from the fridge you will need to bring it back to room temperature and then mix it again in your mixer or by hand.
- Iggle Piggle template x 3
- 10 inch square sponge
- Raspberry or strawberry seedless jam
- Baking paper
- Rolling board (or a smooth clean flat surface)
- Large non stick rolling pin (ideally not a wooden one)
- Small rolling pin (not essential but makes rolling smaller amounts of icing easier)
- Roller cutter
- Sharp knife (ideally large and small)
- Star cutter
- Paint brush
- Small cup of water or edible glue
- Palette knife big and small
- Pritt Stick (Glue Stick)
- Cocktail sticks (4 are needed but have a couple spare)
- Icing sugar for dusting the cake board or surface
- 1.5kg Light blue sugar paste (you could buy white and mix in a bit of the dark blue to make light blue, do it gradually so you achieve the desired colour)
- 1kg Dark blue sugar paste (I use atlantic blue by Renshaw)
- Small amount of white sugar paste for the eyes (about 5g)
- Small amount of black sugar paste for the eyes and mouth (about 5g)
- 250g Red sugar paste (I use ruby red by Renshaw)
- 125g Yellow sugar paste (I use bright yellow by Renshaw)
- Ribbon: this is for the edge of the cake board so you can use any colour you like. Make sure you buy enough to go around the whole edge of the board.
Step 1: Template
If you don’t have a cake tin which is the exact shape you need, one of the easiest thing to do is to create a template which you can carve out of sponge. For children’s 2D character cakes I find the best templates to use are colouring in pages from the internet.
For Iggle Piggle I use this template which you can find on the CBeebies website.
To enlarge the image you can use a photocopier or a computer software programme like paint. As a guide get Iggle Piggle to fit onto an A3 piece of paper. Make three templates so you have spare to help you when adding the final detail.
Draw a new line on the template so you have something to follow and then cut around the template. At this stage ignore the arms and the blanket, we will speak about these and add them later on in the tutorial.
Finally cut the head from the body.
Step 2: Bake your cake
As I mentioned earlier you can make Iggle Piggle as big or small as you like but the sponge you bake will need to be big enough for you to cut the body template in one piece. You will then be able to cut the head out of the remaining sponge. For this tutorial I used a 10 inch square sponge.
You can either bake one thick sponge and cut it into two or even three layers or you could individually bake the layers. It’s up to you. For the tutorial I baked one large cake and cut it into two layers.
Once baked and cooled level the top of your cake either using a leveler or a sharp knife. Divide the cake into layers. For this tutorial I have done a two layer cake.
If you are baking the layers separately, level all layers.
Cut out two rectangles slightly larger than your two templates. Place the templates on your cake to make sure you don’t cut them too small.
Fill the cakes with buttercream and jam.
Cover both your cakes in buttercream.
Don’t use too much buttercream. The outside layer is to control the crumbs so you don’t need to go crazy with the amount you use.
We won’t be cutting them into Iggle Piggle shapes just yet. Put the cakes in the fridge to set. It is much easier to carve a cake and sculpt cakes when they are firm or almost frozen. I normally put them in the fridge for a couple of hours but it depends on the size of the cake. If you decide to freeze the cake, wrap it in some clingfilm (plastic wrap).
Once set, remove from the fridge and cut around your template.
Buttercream again around you cakes. The purpose of this layer is to control the crumbs and make sure that you have a lovely smooth surface to put the sugar paste over. Any imperfections or irregularities will show through the sugar paste.
Place your cakes on some non stick baking paper and put the cakes back in the fridge for a couple of hours to set. At this stage you could leave these over night in the fridge but I would recommend you put some sugar syrup on the layers so that they remain moist or definitely use jam. Cakes could possibly go a bit dry in the fridge.
While the cakes are setting, prepare your sugar paste and cover your cake board.
Step 3: Covering the cake board
The cake board you buy needs to be big enough to fit the template and a bit of extra room for his hair and the blanket to the side. Measure the template you are using and buy a cake board that is 2 inches bigger than the longest measurement. The cake board I have used for this example is a rectangle.
You can buy pre coloured icing or you can colour it yourself. I used pre coloured icing. The amount you require does depend on how big your cake board is. For this tutorial a 14 inch board will be big enough and you will need 1kg of sugar paste to cover it.
Roll out your sugar paste using a non stick rolling pin on a clean dry surface sprinkled with some icing sugar. Roll it to 5mm thick and about 1 inch bigger than the cake board.
Moisten the board with a little water.
Pick the icing up using a rolling pin and lay it over the cake board. At this point it would be easier to place the board either on a turntable or the edge of your work station so that the icing hangs down.
Use your icing smoother over the board. If there are any bubbles, use a pin to pop them and then smooth over again.
Cut around the edge using a palette knife to remove the excess. Finish by using circular movements with your icing smoother over the entire surface but don't press too hard.
Here is a link to a good you tube video on how to cover a cake board.
If you don't have an icing smoother you could make one using some clingfilm (plastic wrap) and some sugar paste. I learnt this on a course I did a couple of years ago with Squires Kitchen. It was a great course to learn the basics, check out my Squires Kitchen blog post for more information.
Put the cake board to one side.
Step 3: Covering your cakes
You will need 1 ½ kg of light blue sugar paste to cover both the head and body. If you have white sugar paste you could mix a bit of darker blue with white to achieve light blue. It will take quite a bit of kneading but be persistent and make sure that the colour is even.
Roll out your sugar paste large enough to cover the first shape. If you struggle to judge this by eye, measure the cake at the longest and widest point and make sure you take into account you need to go down the sides. Roll the icing to about 5mm thick.
Pick up the sugar paste using your rolling pin and lay the icing carefully over your cake.
Quickly but carefully smooth it around and down the sides of the cake starting at the top.
To cover the sides you need to pull the icing away from the sides of the cake and gradually smooth it down. Don’t pull very hard, it doesn’t take much pulling to stretch the icing very slightly. If you create any bubbles use a needle to pop them with a pin and then use your hand made smoother to smooth them out.
Once covered and before you remove the excess, smooth the top with your icing smoother. For the sides I find it easier to use my hand made icing smoother, this is because the cakes are an irregular shape.
Next cut off the excess using a small sharp knife. Then go over the cakes one last time with your smoothers until it is perfectly smooth or as smooth as you can get it.
Carry out the same process for the head. Place both your cakes on some fresh baking paper.
Using your roller cutter tool, mark the lines as shown in the pictures.
Use your template to work out where you should mark the lines.
For the head cut out a template to mark the lines for the top of the head where the two tone effect will go.
Step 4: Add the two tone effect to Iggle Piggle.
Tip: If you are a beginner you could just add the two tone effect so it shows from the top instead of going down the sides of the cake. This will look absolutely fine and will be a little easier.
Make some templates to guide you using your original template as you did for the head above when marking the lines.
Mix a little bit of darker blue with your light blue to make a slightly darker shade so that you can achieve the two tone effect. You will need about 500g of sugar paste.
For the right leg cut a rectangle with your roller cutter tool which is big enough to cover the top and down the side. Use a very small amount of water or edible glue on the area that you are going to stick the sugar paste. Be careful not to get water on any other part of the cake. Use the lines you have marked on you cake to guide you.
Line up your sugar paste and start to ease it down the side of the cake. There will be some excess which is fine you just work it down the sides gently pulling it away and smoothing it. The sugar paste is soft so if you don’t quite meet the middle line then you can rub it slightly so that it meets. If you go over the line you can tidy it up with your roller cutter tool.
For the left leg you can use a template as a guide so you know roughly what size the piece needs to be and keep extra sugar paste at the bottom so that you can work it down the side of the cake.
If you have decided to just have the two tone effect on the top, cut round the template to get the desired shapes to stick on.
Tip: If you go over the line you can always use your roller cutter to tidy up any excess, just make sure there is no water on the part of the leg you do not want it to stick to.
For the body use the same technique as the right leg. Cut a rectangle using the template to get an idea of the size it needs to be and keep some excess sugar paste to go down the side.
Apply a very small amount of water to the area you want the sugar paste to stick to and then line up your rectangle with the lines on your cake. Again, there will be some excess which is fine you just work it down the sides gently pulling it away and smoothing it. The sugar paste is soft so if you don’t quite meet the line then you can rub it slightly so that it meets and tidy anything that doesn’t with the roller cutter (or a small sharp knife).
Use the template you made earlier to mark the ines on the head.
Use your roller cutter to cut out the sugar paste as shown leaving enough sugar paste at the top and sides to go down the sides of the cake.
Add a very small amount of water or edible glue to the area you want the sugar paste to stick to and then line up the shape you have cut.
Gradually work the sugar paste down the sides of the head.
Cut off any excess if you need to tidy it up.
Mark the lines back on your cake with your roller cutter tool.
Your cake should now look something like this!
Step 5: Assembling your cake
Decide where on your board you want to position Iggle Piggle. I have gone with the centre. You need to make sure there is enough room for the blanket and the hair at the top. Use one of your spare templates to work out the exact positioning before committing to putting the cakes on the board.
Pick up your cakes carefully one by one using a palette knife. I put the body on first and then position the head on top.
If you have made any finger marks, use your handmade smoother to buff them away. Do this very lightly.
Now we can add the final detail!
Roll out a sausage of light blue sugar paste and shape into an arm. You can work out the size by trying the arm on the cake before sticking it on.
Leave to one side while you make the blanket.
Roll out some red sugar paste and cut to a blanket shape. You don't need a template for this, cut a shape similar to the one I have.
Lightly gather the top of the blanket using your fingers and then position on your cake.
You want Iggle Piggle to look like he is holding the blanket so place the arm on the cake without sticking it on to see where the top of the blanket needs to be.
Keep a bit of movement in the blanket by not fixing it flat to the cake as you can see in my pictures.
Once you have positioned your blanket on the cake, add your right arm using a little water or edible glue.
For the stitching on the edge of the blanket, roll out some light blue and make some thin rectangles. Add to the blanket using a little water or edible glue.
Before adding the left arm add the detail to the face.
Use your template to work out the size and positioning of the facial features.
Roll two balls of white sugar paste and flatten so that are the same size as the eyes on your template. To get the positioning of the eyes right you can use a pin or a cocktail stick to mark where they are going to go. Stick them on your cake with a little water or edible glue.
Roll two small balls of black sugar paste and flatten slightly again using your template to get them to the correct size. Stick them on your cake with a little water or edible glue.
Roll out some of the darker blue for the eye lids and cut out some semi circles. Position at the top of the eyes.
Roll some very small balls of white sugar paste to add to the black of the eyes.
Roll a small ball of the darker blue for the nose and place inbetween the eyes slightly closer to the left eye.
Roll out some black sugar paste and cut out a mouth shape using your roller cutter. Use a very small amount of water or edible glue to stick to the cake. Be careful when adding black sugar paste to your cake and make sure you are confident of where the mouth is going before you place it on the cake.
Tip: For the black you could use a black edible pen if you find it easier to draw straight onto your cake.
Follow the same process for the right arm. When you attach the arm on the cake, position the hand over the mouth.
Roll out a thin sausage of red (about 5mm thick) and cut off 4 equally sized pieces (about 1 inch long).
Roll them into balls and then shape them. On the flat end make a hole with a tooth pick. Push it about half way in and then remove.
Add cock tail sticks to your cake as shown.
Put a little bit of water or edible glue on the cocktail sticks and around the base of the cocktail stick and then gently push your pieces of hair onto the sticks. Shape them again once they are on the cocktail sticks if you have squashed them a bit.
Roll out some yellow sugar paste.
Cut out some stars and fix to your cake with a small amount of water or edible glue.
Putting ribbon around your cake board adds a great finish. Measure around the cake board to make sure you buy enough to fit the whole way round.
Use a pritt stick around the edge so that the ribbon sticks to the board.
Start at the back of your cake and then work your ribbon around the edge of the board and cut the ribbon to finish.
You now have a finished Iggle Piggle cake!
I really hope you have found my tutorial useful. Please let me know if you have any questions :-)
Here are a couple of carved Iggle Piggle cakes I have made. They may give you ideas of how you can add extra details to your cake like a happy birthday message or a star cake.
My first carved Iggle Piggle cake that I made in 2011 for Alfie.
Here is another version made in 2012 for James.