I am obsessed with the Netflix show, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. I know it’s aimed at a demographic way, way, waaaaay younger than me, but I just don’t give a damn. I grew up watching the Melissa Joan Hart version of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and this is so far in the opposite direction, but I love them both equally. They’ve gone so dark with the Netflix version, but in a way that still maintains a lighthearted humor.
After watching season two last year, I was desperate to make a Sabrina cake, specifically one that had the Herald of Hell mosaic Harvey finds in the mines. But, I also thought it was the perfect opportunity to host an Instagram cake collaboration, so I waited until they finally announced a date for season three, and asked fellow Sabrina fan Kendra from @wildchildcakes to co-host with me.
Turns out there isn’t a huge crossover between Sabrina fans and IG cake decorators, but we managed to put together a fun group of talented bakers to make this collab happen, and I can’t wait to see what they all come up with. I chose to stick with my mosaic design, and although I didn’t remember to take any progress photos, I thought I’d walk you all through my process, and my struggles, including the very exciting moment I accidentally set part of the cake on fire. Yeah…that happened.
To start, I knew I wanted to make a two tiered cake, but didn’t want to have a ton of cake around, because, let’s face it, I always have cake around, so I used a foam dummy for my bottom tier. I covered both tiers in a mix of gray buttercreams applied in a slapdash sort of way, leaving rough edges at the top of both. I stacked them, refrigerated them overnight, and then got sick the next day. I was sick for about a week, and broke a tooth one of those days. Needless to say, the cake got pushed to the back burner for awhile. I did manage to roll out a thin sheet of gum paste so that I could give it plenty of time to dry. I also cut the eye shapes, and the collar shapes for the mosaic since those appeared to be shaped pieces. Because the collar would have to be curved over the round shape of the cake side, I cut the whole collar and then cut that into smaller pieces so that it could wrap around the curve of the cake.
When I finally recovered enough to get back to work, I stalled for another few days because the task of assembling a mosaic of tiny gum paste pieces suddenly seemed extraordinarily daunting. What seemed less daunting was the wafer paper roots I wanted to apply around the cake, so I started there. I bugged my friend Charra, @charrajf, for the secret technique behind the wafer paper twigs she made for two of her fabulous cake creations, and she was gracious enough to give me the lowdown on them. With some Everclear Vodka and gel coloring painted on to soften up the wafer paper, I was able to roll up a reasonable facsimile, that I could use for the roots growing down over the mine walls.
Once I could no longer escape the mosaic, I smashed my sheet of dried gum paste into tiny bits, and used my Cake Katana (a little sprinkle picker upper you can find here,) to slowly and methodically place my tiny bits into the shape of Sabrina’s head, and the flames on either side of her. I didn’t do the whole mosaic because I’m not insane. This took literally forever. Okay, maybe not literally, but a long time. And there was some cornstarch on the gum paste pieces so the Katana didn’t want to quite adhere, and I kept dropping them on my bottom tier and having to pick them off. It was a whole thing. I free-handed my placement because that’s just how I roll, but if you’re crazy enough to be thinking of doing something similar, you could always lightly sketch your outlines into the buttercream with a toothpick before applying your mosaic pieces.
After I had all the pieces in place, I started to lightly press the them into the buttercream so that they would be flush with the side and the buttercream would look like grout between the pieces. Then I started painting. I used gel color mixed with vodka to make my paints. Once I’d painted all the pieces, I used black Edible Art Paint to paint in the eyebrows, eyes, and around the collar. After everything had dried, I used brown petal dust to darken some pieces and add an aged look. I also used the petal dust to try to draw in the nose. This was the hardest part for me. I redid it several times, and only seemed to make it worse each time. I ended up mixing up some brown paint instead to give it more definition. I’m still not completely sold on it, but it works.
Next came the candles. Ah, the candles. My bright idea was to mix up some crumbled cake and a smidge of buttercream and shape it around birthday candles to make thicker, pillar candles. The mixture did not want to stick to the candles however, so my candle shapes leaned more towards the phallic. I kept going, dipped them in white chocolate and let them harden.
After that it was just a matter of sticking on my candles and roots, adding some white chocolate candle drips, and photographing my cake. I took a couple test shots, then lit my candles. I remember thinking to myself, “Gee that wafer paper root is a bit close to this candle, but I’m sure it will be fine.” I lit the candle, stepped back, starting snapping pics and then realized the wafer paper had caught fire. I quickly blew out the wafer paper, which also blew out all the candles. I re-lit them, took a few photos, and the candles started going out. I changed backdrops, and then couldn’t get the candles to light again because they had burned down to the chocolate. Basically, it was an eventful night. I didn’t quite get the shots I had hoped for, but I think they turned out okay, and I am super happy about the way the cake looks. It was a labor of love, emphasis on the word ‘labor,’ but I am thrilled to have finally brought my Sabrina cake design to life. If you’re on Instagram, please check out #sabrinacakecollab to see all the Sabrina themed cakes you could ever want.