Halo helmet cake tutorial

I was asked to make this Halo Helmet Cake and I had so much fun, I decided to share a sort of photo tutorial with all those who are interested.

The first thing I got was some good reference. Always key with any shaped cake. Luckily I found a great photo showing all sides of the helmet.

Halo Master Chief helmet cake with glowing LED lights

I’m going to assume you already know how to bake cakes and have a general understanding of sculpting/shaping a cake. If not, this may not be the tutorial for you but maybe you’ll learn a thing or too by seeing my process of making this Halo Master Chief Helmet cake for an awesome client.

So I started off by baking three 10″ rounds and five 8″ rounds. This is a LOT of cake but I wanted the helmet to be life sized so I had to make a lot of cake. I wanted to minimize waste so made basically two cakes for every layer of cake so I wouldn’t have to trim off a lot. I also made 5 lbs of olive green modeling chocolate (I use 1 cup of light corn syrup per 2 lbs of chocolate. I use half dark, half white and color it with regular food coloring added to the heated corn syrup. Melt chocolate in microwave in 20 second intervals, mixing in between and then add corn syrup. Stir until combined, then let set overnight. Will be lumpy but will look good after you knead it.) Lauren Kitchens recipe also works really well.

I also prepared one batch of black marshmallow fondant. Check here for my recipe.

My base is a 14″ round MDF board that I buy pre-cut from my cake supply store. I cut a 7″ piece of PVC and attached it via a pipe flange (all purchased from a hardware store).

I covered the board in decorators foil and taped plastic wrap over the pvc so it wasn’t touching the cake. PVC is not food safe so its not good to just put right against cake you’re going to eat.

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I covered the flange with more plastic wrap and tape
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To start building up the helmet, I start with a trimmed down cake board. This is the basic shape and I measured a place for the flange to fit through since it is not flush with the board.

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Checking to make sure it will center nicely on the board once it has cake on it.

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I start trimming my cake layers and I prefer to tort them (cut them in half) so that there is more buttercream per layer of cake.

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I trim off the front of this 10″ round so there is a flat space for the 8″ round to sit snug up against. Save your scraps!

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Trimming the 8″ round to fit against the 10″

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The “muzzle” part of the helmet isnt going to be very tall so I don’t need to worry about the second layer of cardboard fitting over that. I make this piece only for the center part of the helmet. Remember, we’re going to trim the sides of this helmet down so you want it to be oval shaped. I should have traced the general shape from the base board.

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As you’re stacking, constantly check for levelness so nothing slides apart.

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After three layers of cake, I always put in a board for stability. I support the board with straws cut to length. Don’t forget to put an X in the area where the PVC pipe will slide through at the end.

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Push a straw into the cake, mark the length with your finger, trim.

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Cut more straws to length. You don’t need a ton20130509-102110.jpg

This is plenty. Be careful not to put any straws in the area where your PVC will be

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More layers of buttercream

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Building up the center of the mask

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After three layers, add another piece of cardboard

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This piece I have extend over the face mask area because I want it to support the top part of the helmet. I want this whole thing to be cake and cake won’t support itself! Plan your support structure! Don’t forget the X for the PVC. The straws, the PVC and the weight of the cake on top will be enough to hold the visor in place.

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Cake all stacked and roughly shaped. I had lots of visuals printed to keep me on track. Check your carving often from every angle to see if things are straight and the same on both sides.

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So remember those scraps from trimming? I hope you kept them! We’re going to make what is basically cake pop filling, which is cake scraps and buttercream mixed together. We are going to use this to build up any low spots and create roundness on the top of the helmet.

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Spread on with a spatula or hands damped with water so it doesn’t stick to them

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Apply a thin crumb coat of buttercream to the helmet and pop it into the freezer if you have room (for about an hour) or into the fridge for two hours or until buttercream is nice and firm on the outside.20130509-110936.jpg

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Once buttercream is firm, apply a more generous amount of buttercream and smooth until you are happy with the shape. Don’t worry about all the little divots in the helmet and mouth piece, we’ll build those up with modeling chocolate later. Put back in the freezer or fridge to firm up once again

Time to put your cake on the board!

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lift your cake up by the base and find the hole you made earlier. Slide the PVC into the hold, pressing slightly at the top of the cake so that nothing pushes out the top. The pvc should easily slid through your pre-cut X and the weight of the cake helps. If it doesnt, you will need to take your PVC off and re-cut it at an angle so that it will have a sharp end to push through the cardboard.

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I trim out three places at the top where there are divots in the helmet

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And crumb coat. Cake is much easier to carve when it is chilled

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Roll out a big chunk of the black fondant and drape it over the cake. We’re going to trim off everything but the visor area. We want this area to be fondant so we can make it shiny

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I leave a little overlap at the top and bottom

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Smooth down with a fondant smoother

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Next, roll out a HUGE piece of black fondant. Basically as big as you can get it. This is about 24″ across. I had to use an x-tra big rolling pin to pick it up.

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Roll the fondant onto the rolling pin and drap over the cake

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Ignore the divots for now and just smooth over the cake like you are covering a normal tier. Push out any trapped bubbles

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Poke holes where the divots are to let air escape and push down the fondant Trimm away excess around the face mask area and the base

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Smooth down with a fondant smoother and get out any bubbles but pricking with a pin and pushing out the air. All this fondant is going to be covered with modeling chocolate so it doesn’t have to be perfect

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To attach modeling chocolate, I wet the fondant and start adding strips of chocolate.

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I smooth down seams with a modeling tool. I bought mine on amazon.

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This part is really repetitive. Just adding more chocolate, building it up, smoothing it down and trying to make it look like the photo basically

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For the top I just draped a huge pice of modeling chocolate over the helmet and cut away the excess

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I used fondant for the face mask accents

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Getting there

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Adding details to the top of the helmet

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I used a damp paper towel to give the side mask area some texture so it would contrast against the shiny visor

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I added some strips of black fondant all the way around the base of the helmet then added some basic texture with my modeling tool and trimmed away the excess with an x-acto knife.

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To make the visor shiny (I forgot to take a photo) I mixed some corn syrup with water and some shiny gold luster dust. I brushed it onto the visor with a food safe paint brush

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The reference photo I had showed blue glowing lights on the sides of the helmet and I wanted this cake to be as realistic as possible so I decided it needed some glowing LEDs in the cake for full effect!

The LEDs are flora lights I purchased from Jo-anns. I used my 40% off coupon that you get in your email when you sign up for newsletters so they were really inexpensive. They had a bunch of different colors too. I just covered them in modeling chocolate and put them on the side.  

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Published on: 10 May 2013
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