Cake design has evolved into an art form and the popularity of motorized -- or animation -- cakes is on the rise. Featuring moveable parts, these creations can be a cake sitting on a revolving stand or a colorful frosting landscape with parts that swing. Making a motorized cake can be challenging, but you don't need to be an engineer to build one. The end result usually thrills the recipient and is the star of any food table.
Sketch or find a picture of the cake design you have in mind. Baking, building and decorating a motorized cake can be quite a project and should be approached with a plan. Some examples include a roulette wheel spinning on a revolving cake stand, a tank with a moving turret, a flower encircled by flying ladybugs, a haunted house with ghosts waving from the windows, a mountain with snowboarders sliding down it or a train chugging across edible hills and bridges.
Determine what decorations will be movable and how to power them. Flying or spinning objects will need to be attached to wires connected to a battery operated motor. Most mechanical parts can be motor-operated, but some may be able to run on only the battery, especially if they are ready-made toys or items that will be placed on the cake as is. Mechanically gifted bakers might build their own motorized decorations. Hobby and craft stores are good sources for motors. These tiny engines usually are located in the model car and airplane section. Request to speak to an experienced sales associate if you are unsure which motors to use for your decorations.
Choose other special effects for the design. Lighting is a popular option and it can be achieved by embedding lightweight, battery operated LED mini lights, craft lights or balloon lights into decorations. They can be found at craft, party and some fabric stores. Mini air and water pumps create streams, rivers and other liquid effects, while dry ice imitates fog or smoke.
Decide which parts of the cake will be edible and prepare to be resourceful. Using round and rectangular cakes as edible bases for motorized decor is the simplest option, but some bakers want parts of the decor made of cake. This may require baking with loaf and muffin tins, deep round pots and specially shaped cake pans. Carving cakes into shapes or scooping them out to place over objects or conceal motors may also be necessary. Fondant can be molded into many objects and used to cover the frames of some powered items. Icing can be applied to cardboard, Styrofoam and other substances serving as decoration props and hiding spots for motors.
Mix batter according to recipe, bake and cool completely but don't leave cakes in their pans longer than 10 minutes, otherwise the cakes may stick. Frost cakes on a turntable for better maneuvering and smoother application. Water acts as glue on fondant, so lightly dampen the cake if adding sprinkles, candies or appliques.
Assemble the cake on its serving stand, platter or other base. Plywood is a sturdy choice for larger, heavier cakes. Follow your design plan to bring your motorized cake together and glue cake pieces together with icing, or attach them with toothpicks. Add the final touches and flip the switch to set your cake in motion.