The other weekend, I was Flying High with this Hot Air Balloon Cake I made for little Luke. I’ve always wanted to make one of these cakes and I jumped at the chance to do so! Here’s how I made this cute cake with puffy white clouds and hot air balloons drifting about it. With the right tools in hand, it’s really not that difficult at all. I promise!
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The color scheme for this cake was white, sky blue and teal but it would look just as pretty with pinks and reds or…you know, whatever other colors make you happy! The key to making cakes, in my opinion, is preparation. If you make all of the gum paste accents and details ahead of time, it’ll speed up the process when putting the cake together 😉
Making the Clouds
To begin making the clouds, you will need Cloud Cookie Cutters. You can choose to hand cut these if you prefer, just keep in mind that they will be a bit tricky with all the curves involved but it’s not impossible. The Cloud Cookie Cutters came in a set of 5 and I bought them from Mandy over at the Kawaii Kitchen Shop on Etsy. These cutters allowed me to make the clouds different shapes and sizes, which I absolutely loved.
Take an equal amount of white gum paste and fondant and knead it really well to combine. This will be used for the clouds. Gum paste begins hardening up once exposed to air so it is best to wrap it with plastic wrap and place in a plastic sandwich bag for extra protection.
Prepare a baking sheet by dusting it with a blend of cornstarch and powdered sugar. Dust your work surface as well, to prevent sticking. Taking a small portion, roll out gum paste about 1/16″ thin. Cut out clouds using the different cutters. Repeat process until you have approximately 15-20 clouds, re-kneading the scraps as you go along. Carefully transfer cut outs over to the dusted baking sheet.
Making the Hot Air Balloons
The Hot Air Balloon Cookie Cutter is from Bobbi over at Bobbi’s Cookie Cutters on Etsy. This balloon measures 4″ in height and makes for the cutest cookies!
Take equal amounts of gum paste and fondant and knead well again. Tint with desired color. As with the white gum paste, wrap in plastic wrap and place inside the same sandwich bag. Repeat once more with a smaller portion of each and tint a deeper shade. Wrap and bag.
When ready to begin, follow suit with the tinted gum paste mix and roll out the same thickness as the clouds and use the hot air balloon cutter to cut 6 out – pic 1 above. Using a Fondant Wheel Cutter with the sewing/stitch setting, roll it across the top of the balloon to make four angled straight lines – pic 2 above.
Turn the balloon slightly and begin the process again, making a criss-crossed pattern – pic 3 above. Using a toothpick, dab on a tiny amount of Piping Gel where the lines intersect and place an edible sugar pearl on top – pic 4 above.
Take a small piece of the deeper shaded gum paste and roll it into a thin strip. Brush a small amount of piping gel to the top portion of the basket and lay the gum paste over it. Cut the overhang off. Add an edible sugar pearl to the basket area (if desired) with a dab of piping gel.
Use an X-Acto Knife to cut a section in the space between the balloon and basket area. Carefully transfer balloons to the baking sheet with the clouds, they will be fragile. Allow to dry completely and harden up for a day or two.
The topper requested for this cake was a number 1, the child’s upcoming age. For ease and because I like the shape, I used this whimsical #1 Cookie Cutter. I bought the cutter from another one of my favorite Etsy shops, Whisked Away Cutters! Tracy has a treasure trove of cutters for cookiers, I kid you not!
Roll out tinted gum paste mix of your choice to the same thickness as clouds and cut out number shape – pic 1 above. Take a small amount of gum paste mix and roll into a tube-like shape about 2″ long – pic 2 above.
Dab a long toothpick with piping gel and insert it halfway into the tube. Flatten out a bit, cut excess off and allow to harden up – pic 3 above. Once both pieces have firmed up, brush some piping gel on the tube and attach to the backside of the number piece – pic 4 above.
Bake, cool and level cakes. The top tier was a 6″ three layer cake. The bottom an 8″ also with three layers. All vanilla…cake and buttercream. Frost and smooth both tiers and allow the crust to set up, about 10-20 minutes. The bottom tier was left white and the top tier was tinted using Americolor Sky Blue Airbrushing Color which can also be found at Crown Bakery Supply – Etsy.
Allow the airbrushed color to dry completely, approximately 15-20 minutes. Stack cakes, making sure to use appropriate dowels for support. Using piping gel to attach the bottoms trimmings.
I use a large Total Face Makeup Brush (that is strictly used for this purpose) from Elf Cosmetics to carefully remove the cornstarch/powdered sugar from all of the pieces. These brushes can be found in your local beauty or grocery stores but in case it’s not, you can click the link to find it online.
With a small paintbrush, brush a small amount of piping gel on back of a balloon. Gently press and hold it against the cake. Be weary not to brush too much gel as it might cause the pieces to slide off. Hold the piece in place until you see it stay put, keeping an eye on it.
Attach the balloons on the bottom tier in random levels, leaving space for intermittent clouds. I used four balloons on this cake.
Follow suit with the clouds, randomly scattering them over the top tier. Place some clouds between the balloons on bottom tier. Use as many/few as you like. I used 17 clouds.
Center the topper on top and you are good to go!