Saturday, February 21, 2009

Appa cake

Back in December, I became obsessed with the idea of making a cake in the shape of Appa, the flying bison from Avatar: The Last Airbender. With help of my more experienced cake-making friend, Fran, I set out to make the Appa cake.

These photos illustrate the process starting from two boxed cake mixes and four pans, to assembling and decorating the bison.

We started with one flat 8.5x11 pan, one small loaf pan, and two domes (from the Wilton "sports ball" kit.) With some trimming, the flat cake became Appa's body and tail. The loaf was cut into six equal slices, which we laid flat to create Appa's six legs. After a coat of thin icing, we layered the domes to create Appa's head and "hump." (We trimmed the rounded top off the "hump" dome and used it to bolster the head dome. This also helped create the shape of Appa's face.) We used the corner scraps from the flat cake to create his puffy cheeks, and a trimming from the front of the "hump" to help round out his tail.

Next, Fran iced the whole thing, and we piped a little extra icing into any spots that needed smoothing. A thorough coating of shredded coconut helped hide any remaining flaws, and created Appa's shaggy fur.

I had puzzled a long time about how to best make the brown arrow/stripe down Appa's back. After deliberating over using store-bought fondant, making my own fondant, or attempting to do a neat job with icing, I went with an online recipe for marshmallow fondant. (I added cocoa and food coloring to make it chocolatey and brown.) This was a very messy step and I thought the fondant would be too sticky to use, but after much kneading and adding of powdered sugar, it magically acquired a Play-Doh consistency. We rolled out the fondant to cut Appa's stripe.

I also used a large amount of the fondant to sculpt the horns. I left the horns in the freezer for several hours, then dipped them in melted dark chocolate. (I say "dipped," but really it was more like painting the chocolate onto the horns.) They went back into the freezer to harden, then were attached with toothpicks. The horns still had a little trouble staying in place, and you can see them sagging in some of the later pictures, unfortunately.

Appa's toes were made out of chocolate-covered almonds. I frosted his cheeks with chocolate icing, then cut another piece of the fondant for his nose and coated it with black icing from a store-bought icing pen. His eyes were made from chocolate-covered espresso beans dipped into the white frosting, then pushed into his face; I dotted black and white icing with a toothpick to create pupils and highlights.

Lastly, Appa's ears are created from large marshmallows sliced on the diagonal, coated in icing and coconut on top and chocolate icing on the bottom, and attached with toothpicks. Another marshmallow was cut in half and covered in icing/coconut to give Appa a lower jaw.

The whole project took two nights to complete, but it was worth it; many people thought we must be professional pastry chefs! :)


ryan said...

Oh my God, Amy. This cake makes you 10x cooler than you even were before. I'm so showing this to Jwo.

Tatterdemalion said...

Bravo! I sent the link along to another Avatar fan and we both marveled over the level of detail and the high marks for difficulty.

It's truly a thing of beauty!


fignuts said...

i too am obsessed with appa! i thought i was the only one :'D <-- tears of joy, i've just been cutting onions (my 3 foot handmade appa)

Shannon said...

this appa cake is so cute! I just love appa. I can't wait for the movie.

GeneD said...

Awesome! Let's hope M. Night Shyamalan's live-action movie does the animated series justice...

Ali said...

My friend made me a cake similar to this because I asked her too :] we had much fewer supplies though... but we credit it to you! Thanks for the inspiration!
Here it is:

Amy K. said...

Thanks so much for all the positive feedback! I never dreamed this post would get so much attention. I encourage everyone out there to make their own Appa projects because Appa is awesome!

Anonymous said...

I am Bryan Konietzko's sister (he is the co-creator of the animated series). I LOVE this cake!! My son is about to have his 4th birthday and of course wants an Avatar themed party. I have been scouring the internet for something like this! Thank you! Wish I could hire you to make me one!


Amy K. said...

@Kristen: I would be happy to be hired to make one for you... If you lived in/around Boston!

Willie said...

Amy, my sister sent me this link knowing both me and my daughter are big ATLA fans. Her birthday is today, and she really wanted an Appa cake after seeing your blog. I couldn't make it exactly how you did because it would be too big, so we did our own version based on your pics.

Thank you so much for helping make her 12th birthday even more special than it is going to be!

Susan said...

Thanks so much for posting your Appa cake! My 8yr old daughter saw it and said 'Make that!'
Showing the steps gave me some courage so we gave it a try.

Also, in a total last minute panic I covered some cheese curls (Smart puffs actually) in fondant for the horns. I attached them with toothpicks and it worked great!

thanks again for posting this!!!

The Appamobile Girl said...

I want, I want, I want!!!!!