Cowboy boot cake!
I actually remembered to take a few pictures as I worked on this cake. Unfortunately, I missed a few steps, but still I thought you would enjoy seeing at least some of the process. So it’s not really a full tutorial, just a few tips & steps.
This cake is challenging in several ways:
–The heel is elevated with space between it & the forefoot, so the cake must be suspended at least partially in air.
–The toe of a real boot curves up off the floor
–The boot shaft is so tall, skinny & top-heavy, & can only be supported on that small heel.
So first, there had to be a structure that would support the shaft of the boot in air. I considered several options, but decided to go with carving the heel from styrofoam. I knew for sure that would support the weight & not have any chance of melting or collapsing. The main stabilizer would be a threaded rod attached through the base with washers & nuts, & that would prevent it from falling over. And to make the ‘sole’ where it would have the elevated toe& support the weight of the shaft, my friend Mike Guerrero of Mad Mike’s Cakes (a structural genius) suggested something I had never used before—art board. It’s super strong but is similar to a really thick construction paper. You can bend it in to shape, & use hot glue & foam core pieces to ‘lock’ it into the shape you need.
Using my husband’s boot as a template, I traced the sole & cut it out of artboard. I carved the heel from a sturdy piece of styrofoam. I bent the artboard over the heel, creating the arch. To elevate the toe, I bent the artboard up, cut a piece of foam core to a crescent moon shape & hot glued it to the board, which then permanently set the curve in the sole, & also became a ‘spine’ to stabilize the forefoot of the boot.
In the picture above, you can see the styrofoam heel & the threaded rod (wrapped securely in press & seal to prevent it from touching any of the cake!) You can’t see the artboard very well, except maybe there at the toe.
It took 4 6-inch round cakes to create this boot. One layer became the toe part, carved to match the sole. Three of them became the shaft. I sliced off each side to make a rough oval, stacked them,& then carved them down into the proper shape. There was a gap, as you can see in the above picture, between the cakes on the shaft &the one at the toe. I filled in this instep area with wedges of the last layer of cake, & carved it down.
Here is the boot all stacked & ready to carve! There were two additional foam core supports added as I went up the shaft, with bamboo dowels supporting them. The bottom of the shaft was a foam core board carved to match the sole template, & I inserted bamboo dowels to support the front of the shaft as well, cutting through the sole so that they would rest on the base, & secured them with melted white chocolate. Once I finished stacking, I drove a long bamboo dowel all the way down the shaft, through the two additional boards, for added vertical security. Then I started carving away!
And here’s the cake all carved &coated with ganache. I tried to work in some of the big ‘dents’ I would need for it to look realistic. But with a coating of ganache this thin, I also knew I could create natural-looking wrinkles with my hands later when I applied the fondant.
I then applied the fondant in panels, starting with the shaft. That makes the most sense, because on a real cowboy boot, the front of the boot comes up on the shaft & is stitched to it. So once I got the shaft fondant on, the rest was just a matter of cutting the other pieces. Again, having a real boot to create a template from was very helpful. I used parchment paper to create patterns & cut them out of fondant. As I laid each piece on, I used my stitching tool to add the double-stitching on each piece,just as the real boot has.
This is how it looked when just the shaft was wrapped. Once I got all the black pieces on, then I started adding the decorative turquoise pieces. Finally, I piped on the fancy stitching with royal icing, & added silver dragees as ‘studs’.
Almost done! I laid the fondant on the board around the boot, distressed it, & painted it to look like a wooden floor (like a honky tonk dance hall!). I applied the black trim around the sole last, so it would be on top of the ‘floor’.
And here’s the finished boot! I hope you enjoyed the insight into how I created this cake!