Cake tin moulds can be very expensive, so if you want a shaped cake why opt for a simple cake design and carve the design yourself? You really don't need any special equipment for carving as ordinary household knives are fine, but bendy blades can be a bit awkward and are best avoided. All you really need is a knife with a serrated edge for carving fruit cakes, a long bladed knife for making larger cuts and a smaller one for finer details.
The most important thing to remember when you are carving a cake is that the cake itself must be able to withstand the carving process. Some people freeze their cakes and then bring them back to room temperature before they start carving as this technique will help to firm the cake which can make the carving easier. Personally I prefer to work with a fresh cake, as apart from the carving challenge I know that there will be no over-moist areas in the centre when it is delivered to the customer.
Another important factor is the type of cakes being used, as those that are whisked, like a Genoese sponge for example, are much too light and full of air and if this type of cake were stacked up the air would be forced out and they would most probably sink/collapse.Also remember that after you carve the cake that a thin coat of butter cream (crumb coating) will be needed and that one characteristic of a lot of margarines is that they spread easily straight from the fridge, however you will need the crumb coating to slightly crust so a firm margarine is preferable.
Most of my cake designs are created from a mixture of different heavier sponge cake recipes or rich fruit cakes, both of which are perfect for carving because they are firm and close textured.
Once you have finished carving and decorating your cake, don't waste the offcuts and left over crumbs as they can be used to make deserts, such as trifles, baked Alaska and truffles.
Simple truffle recipe
Place all cake leftovers (including any buttercream/jam filling) into a food processor and blend it all until smooth, then add to it some coco powder to taste and blend again.Turn the mixture out into a bowl and put in the fridge to firm up so you can then handle it. Take a teaspoon of mixture and roll it into little balls, if the cake crumbs refuse to stick together then just add a little more jam to the mixture, and then to finish roll the truffle in chocolate vermicelli and place in foil cases.
Kim makes and decorates cakes for all occasions including wedding cakes and even novelty birthday cakes.