A friend of mine picked out some very cute doggie-themed nursery bedding for her new son William's pending arrival. It's chambray blue with brown corduroy trim, and has puppies on it doing various activities. When I was asked to make the cake for her shower, I asked if I could pick out the design of it, and she said yes! Yahoo! I wanted the cake to match the bedding and thought I would make the cake look like the matching diaper bag - except there doesn't seem to BE a matching diaper bag. Um, okay, I'll just have to wing it a little.  

Here are the tools I used for this particular cake: two spatulas, one tapered and one rounded; paring knife; mini pizza cutter; pastry brush for cleaning up; cheapie semi-disposable plastic bench scraper; tracing wheel from the fabric store; dual pastry wheel; Wilton cutter/embosser; small rolling pin; clay extruder fitted with a medium-sized circle die; and a garrett frill cutter with the center circle removed. I also had a food-safe mold of a zipper and zipper pull. I made my zipper mold using a jacket zipper and the molding compounds found at makeyourownmolds.com. If you don't have all of these things, don't worry. Roll out the chocolate fondant ropes by hand if you don't have a clay or fondant extruder, use a round cookie cutter if you don't have a garrett frill cutter, etc. Look at the photos and see where you can improvise for the items you don't already own.

Welcoming William

This cake is covered in a 50/50 mixture of modeling chocolate (for flavor) and fondant (for stability) that I'm going to refer to as "chocolate fondant" for the rest of this article.

I baked two 10" squares of chocolate fudge pound cake for this project. I cut them slightly off-centered to give me two pieces of cake that are 6x10, and two pieces that are 4x10". I can stack the smaller pieces on top of the larger ones to give the diaper bag a slightly slouchy look that could also work if you're making a doctor's bag cake. Since there is almost no carving done on this cake, you won't have to estimate how many servings of cake you'll lose to scrap.

These are the two 6x10" pieces of cake, stacked with buttercream between them. I've inserted four bubble tea straws as supports. Because the cake isn't very wide, and will be supporting an even narrower tier on top of it, I can't space the straws out very much, but note that I didn't put them in a straight line. Place a piece of parchment paper cut to the same size as the cake board that will be under the top tier. The parchment keeps the icing from sticking to the bottom of the cake board on top of it. That makes serving the cake a much neater process.

Here's the cake, with the edges trimmed down a bit to look rounded and soft. The crumb coat is on and I gave the cake time to settle a bit before moving on to the decorating stage.

You can see here that there is a plastic-wrapped covered cake board, cut to 4x10", between the tiers. Don't worry about the icing sticking out between the layers. That's what I use to crumb-coat the cake. The icing used as filling and for the crumb coat is chocolate.

I iced the cake in white buttercream. This helps prevent the chocolate icing from showing through the covering in case I miss a spot or roll the covering a little too thin. I didn't in this case, but it's good insurance anyway.  

Now, think about the layers of fabric and trim that would be on a real diaper bag. What would be underneath everything else? That is the first thing that would need to be applied to the cake. You might want to apply the zipper first, but in this case, the zipper end would be on top of the end fabric of the diaper bag, so the end "fabric" was applied to the cake first, then the zipper on top. I made the corduroy effect by rolling out the chocolate fondant and impressing it with the blunt flat edge of the bench scraper. It's fairly wide and not really smooth, so it's ideal for that use. Then I added a square of chocolate fondant to the end of the zipper and traced it around and through the center with the tracing wheel to simulate stitching.

Here's a view of the end of the bag and the handles after they firmed up.

Next to go on were the side panels of the diaper bag. I rolled those out of blue chocolate fondant, cut them mostly to shape, applied them, and neatened up the edges with the paring knife as needed. Don't worry if the seams aren't perfect, you can add some piping to them later to make them look better.

I used the garrett frill cutter to cut out corner patches that were corduroy-ized the same way as the end pieces were. Attach those to the chocolate fondant sides with a little bit of piping gel and then carefully trace around them with the tracing wheel to make them look like they're sewn on. I freehanded a dog from white chocolate fondant and put it on the side with a little piping gel, and traced it with the tracing wheel, too. The side pocket for the baby bottle was made from a rectangle of corduroy-ized chocolate fondant that was wrapped around the bottle, held in place to the bottle by piping gel, and also held onto the side of the diaper bag with piping gel.

More detail was added to the dog applique, and I used the clay extruder to make piping to cover the seams of the bag and along the zipper. Stick them on with a little bit of piping gel, but be very careful not to use too much! If some of it oozes out, it will leave a shiny spot. I made a zipper pull using my mold and applied that so that the end of it hangs over the piping.

I cut strips of corduroy-ized chocolate fondant with my mini pizza cutter (use your normal pizza cutter if you prefer, I just like my mini) and put them on the bag for handles. Use the tracing wheel again to give them the look of reinforced stitching where they attach to the bag. Prop the handles with a paper towel until they're set. 

And here's a good view of the zipper.

You may want to leave your diaper bag as it is, but I wanted mine to have more of a comfortable, lived-in look. I used petal dust in a color called "cocoa" brushed over the texturing on the brown chocolate fondant to give it that effect.

Using the cutter/embosser fitted with a stitch pattern wheel, mark out squares on a large square of chocolate fondant to simulate the look of a quilted baby blanket, then cut along the edge of the blanket with the pastry wheel to give it a pinked look. Arrange the blanket at the end of the diaper bag. I added a toddler-safe toy truck for some added realism.

See how different it looks with the petal dust on it? There is also some blue petal dust brushed onto areas of the cake that would show wear on a real diaper bag. Decide how you want your bag to look, and add it or leave it off, whichever suits your needs best.

I also added a cuddly stuffed bunny, but notice that it does not touch the cake at all. The mom can keep the truck, bunny and bottle for the baby long after the cake is gone.

To serve this cake, make a cut down the zipper from end to end, then cut slices from front to back.  When all those slices are plated, remove the cake board, the parchment paper, and the straws, and serve the bottom tier the same way as you did the top tier.