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How to Make Faux Cakes on a Budget

When it comes to putting on a show, there’s much more to the eye than the actors and the lighting.

How many times have you seen a show and wondered about the props and stage setting? Every little

thing that you see is part of the overall design of the show and with The Cake, well…it’s quite delicious!

But don’t let Della’s cake shop fool you—everything in it is fake.

Created by faux-pastry chef extraordinaire and director, Lisa Garza, the sweet surprises you see within the shop are not sweet at all—unless, of course, you like the taste of Styrofoam. So how does she do it? How does Lisa make Styrofoam look wonderfully appetizing while sticking to a budget? She fills us in, below…

The actual cakes were constructed with scrap sheets of Styrofoam packing. Happily, given how much is ordered through Amazon right now, this is in abundant supply. Dinner or salad plates are perfect templates for cutting the circles with a sharp Olfa or Xacto. Layers can be glued together in a tower for taller cakes. Be sure to stabilize with toothpick skewers as you glue each layer together. White craft glue works perfectly. Layers can also be painted, sliced, and iced individually to make half cakes. Cupcakes are easily accomplished with expanding spray foam insulation and a muffin pan. Be sure to use paper liners or you will have a ruined muffin pan. Carefully paint the tops of these for muffins or simply cover them with frosting once they have dried.

Many websites suggest using spackle to ice and decorate fake cakes. But it can be too thick to spread easily and it's also difficult to tint. In addition, it has an annoying tendency to crack or break off when being extruded through an icing tip. For The Cake, actual icing was used. While it won't last long term without attracting ants or other insects, it will be fine for the few weeks of the show. Real icing is cheap ($1.50 a can, on sale) and it comes in snowy white or buttercream, perfect for tinting with food color. The icing dries hard in a day or two and can be sealed with spray-on Mod Podge or another sealant. The chocolate glaze is little more than brown paint (high-gloss enamel) that is allowed to pool and drip over the top of the cake. 

Lastly, the dozens of glass cake plates for Della's cake shop were made using crystal candlesticks, glass vases, and clear plates purchased at Goodwill. Try flipping a vase upside down and it sometimes looks even better. Glue with E-6000 and allow to dry for a day.

Interested in seeing the magic for yourself? Get your tickets to The Cake, showing weekends beginning Friday, March 18 through Sunday, April 3.

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