Tattoo Art Inspired Cake- Rainbow Trout on the River

April 17, 2014


This cake was my entry for the “Take the Cake” Cake Competition in the 2014 Scottsdale Culinary Festival.  The theme of the competition was “The Arts.” This was such a broad theme and I must say that it was so hard to pick my style/theme. I originally wanted to make a cake that represented the art of painting and my dad’s art table.  All those hours of brainstorming and sketching and even starting the “artist table” cake and I decided to change it with 5 days to go! My original cake just wasn’t flowing and felt forced so I listened to my gut and totally scratched it.

The cake that I ended up going with was of a rainbow trout swimming on the river and jumping for an insect. I wanted to make a cake that represented my dad and brother. They loved fly fishing so much and I thought this would be perfect to honor both of them. I placed two hearts on the cake for each of them….can you find them? The best thing about making this cake was knowing that my dad and brother would have loved it! I just know it.


I came up with the “tattoo art” theme because I wanted something bold and colorful that made a statement. I was flipping through channels one day and came upon a show called Ink Master. It’s a reality show that takes 17 tattoo artists and has them compete in challenges for $100,000 and the title of Ink Master. The caliber of these artist are amazing and I couldn’t come close to their work but I did learn tons from the show. I loved the details and colors that each tattoo artist was using and I decided that I wanted to paint my cake just like a tattoo. I personally don’t have any tattoos but I love the art and representations in tattoos.


The base of the cake was covered in fondant “river rock.” I basically took natural fondant colors like grays, browns and tans and rolled them into nice smooth rock shapes. To give the cake a little more of a water feel, I mixed corn syrup and blue color gel to make “water.” The effect looked a little cooler in my mind but it was kind of neat and added a different element. The fondant dragonflies on the cake were made in two stages. I used a bug body mold for the long body and before that I had cut the wings and let them dry for 1 hour. When the wings were nice and firm, I piped small royal icing lines to represent the patterns on insect wings. I used different colors of petal and luster dust to give the wings an iridescent look. I then pushed the pointed tip ends into the soft dragonfly body and let them dry for a couple of days.


In the photo above, it shows that I also made 3-D grass to match the painted grass on the bottom tier.


I really like the “splash” of the water that I painted on the top tier of the cake. I continued the splashes with 3-D water splashes that held up the fish. I made the fish jumping to give the cake movement and more appealing to the eye.


The photo above is the backside of the cake. My husband came up with the quote to paint in the banner, “Just as a river flows, so does Art from our souls.” I actually did some research on tattoo font and this is my version of a couple fonts put together.


This was my cake before I started the painting, it was so naked.


I painted the cake with a mixture of vodka and color gel. I really diluted it to almost a watercolor look. After I put down the color I let it dry for a hour or two and continued with the black outlines. This is where the tattoo effect comes in.  I also really enjoyed this part of the cake because I was doodling like I used to do when I was little.  Boy, when I was younger  I always had my crayon box and a stack of white paper for drawing.


I forgot to take photos of my fish when it was just a lump of Rice Krispies Treats. I covered the RKT in colored fondant and cut out at least 700 fondant circles for the scales. I airbrushed the fish in stages and started with silver.


Then I went to the greens, red and more silver. (I was limited to my colors because I had to borrow an airbrush from a friend and the only colors I had were the three colors and white)


After I sprayed the bold colors, I toned it down with pearl dust. This gave the fish the silvery look. I also painted the black spots that you see on trouts.


This was Mr. fish in the end, jumping to eat his dragonfly.


I had so much fun making this cake and especially in the memory of my dad and brother. I miss them terribly and I’m so glad my mom got to share with me when I won the People’s Choice Award for the competition.  I thank God everyday for my family and my artistic abilities and my love for cake decorating.



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