Baker creates ultra-realistic sloth cake – spending weeks to craft shredded wheat for every strand of hair
This is one cake that isn’t going anywhere fast… as it is an ultra-realistic SLOTH cake made with an edible hair that took the baker 100 hours to complete – using SHREDDED WHEAT.
Vicki Smith, 27, believes her painstaking technique of using individual strands of the popular breakfast cereal to make the incredibly life-like creation’s edible hair is the first in the world – going through SIX BOXES of the stuff.
The fully edible sculpture is a Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth from Panama took experienced cake artist Vicki twice as long as normal to sculpt, bake and decorate than even the most complicated of her previous cakes.
Ingredients such as marshmallow, chocolate ganache, fondant and crushed Oreo biscuits all went into the creation along with the Shredded Wheat.
And while most cakes that look this good might at least get gobbled up quick, this sloth can not even manage that as he is set to be displayed in November.
Vicki, from Flint, North Wales, said: “Normally, my cakes take around 40-50 hours, which is still a very long time and is a lot of hard work but this one was much more difficult and took twice as long.
“It was because I decided to add the fur individually I was determined to give it the fluffy, life-like texture. This was very difficult and took a lot of testing as I was worried that it would go soft or lose its texture when decorated. But after a lot of trial and error it worked.
“I don’t think anyone else out there uses his method to make ‘cake fur’ so I’ve been keeping how I do it secret until now. But it was certainly very difficult and time consuming using single strands of Shredded Wheat – it’s far from easy!”
Even the leaves of the tree upon which the sloth hangs are edible, having been made using rice paper.
The painstaking process included Vicki having to cut down pieces of MDF to use as a base to sit the sloth on and bending copper piping that makes up the branches of the tree and the sloth’s limbs, before making the structure food safe with cling film and foil.
Requiring such a combination of materials raised a few questions from B&Q staff, who raised a few eyebrows when Ms Smith told them she was using them to bake a cake.
Vicki baked the cake to raise awareness of endangered animals as part of ‘Bakers Unite to Fight’, a collaborative of bakers from around the world.
Each member of the group have created 3D sculpted cakes in the form of different endangered species to be put on display at an international cake exhibition next month.
And Vicki chose a Pygmy Three-Toed Sloth from Panama as there are believed to be fewer than 500 left.
She said, “I was going to do a hedgehog initially, because I have one in my garden, but a few of us were discussing it and they suggested I should do a Sloth. I thought a sloth would be cute and I love doing furry animals, they’re king of my niche.”
Vicki, who quit her day job as a ceramic artist in April to set up her baking business Incredible Edibles, described the baking process as a ‘love-hate relationship’.
She said: “It can be hard work. There is so much to consider when you’re baking. Often you end up with a lot of waste, because have to begin with a bigger cake than you end up with because you lose so much while it bakes.
“All the while, you have to take into consideration that the ingredients will be responding to the atmosphere and the conditions of the kitchen.”
Baking non-stop can deprive Vicki of a social life at times, as she locks herself away for hours on end to get cakes finished.
Vicki said: “I normally set myself a time frame and stick to it as best I can. At the minute, my garage is totally taken over with materials and ingredients and cakes.
“It’s just about finding a good balance between work and life, but I’d rather stay up late finishing a cake and sending it out to a good standard than ditch it for something else.”
It is this dedication to her craft that has seen her earn awards and praise from around the baking world since she initially took it up as a hobby five years ago, with online praise coming her way from the likes of famous US chef Duff Goldman.
Two years ago, Ms Smith’s cake won top prize in the decorative exhibit category at the Cake International show and she is hoping to claim that prize again this year.
The sloth cake will be on display at the Cake International Event taking place in Birmingham from the November 6-8 and could be selected to go on display at the World Wildlife Foundation’s Headquarters.
Unlike the cakes she sells on a regular basis for her business, the sloth will not be eaten after the event – mainly for hygiene reasons.
Vicki said: “I’ve been working on it for so long, the ingredients will have probably gone off by the time the competition comes round. Plus, you never know how many people will have touched it during the exhibition. I doubt it would taste very nice. This one is for admiring, not eating.”
It will not be entered into the decorative exhibit competition, but Vicki is currently working on a top secret cake that will be.