Thursday 27 March 2014

Leaving Cake - Finding Nemo/ So Long And Thanks For All The Fish

finding nemo cake

This blog post will tell you how to make fondant fish, and how to make a chocolate barrel or fence cake with Kit Kats.

I recently left my job to join another company and knew that I had to make a showstopper of a cake for my last day at work. I was known for making elaborate and imaginative cakes, and was asked to help run the charity bake sales, so when it got closer to my last day at the firm, several people were asking what kind of cake I would make! The most popular cake I had made before was this pigs in mud cake; I made it for a bake sale but by the time the cake trolley made it to the 6th floor there was none of this particular cake left, and several disappointed people who had heard from their friends on other floors that they must try it! So I have had a few requests to make it again, but didn't want to make exactly the same cake a second time. I started thinking about how I could decorate it as my leaving cake and thought of a famous line from the Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams- "So long and thanks for all the fish". I wanted to make a fence or barrel effect out of KitKats as before and thought that fish in a barrel would work (no suggestion of my job being particularly easy, if you also know that quotation!). I decided I could make white chocolate ganache instead of plain chocolate to go on top, and colour it blue to look like water.

To start with I made the fish a few days in advance. I'm going to show you how I made the fondant fish. To start with, I had a look through my box of food colours - this box came from Boots with some toiletries at Christmas but it's perfect for my bottles and tubes of food colouring!

To begin I decided to make a clown fish like the one in Finding Nemo. Here's what you need to do: coloured some white fondant with orange gel colour and make a ball.  Roll it between your hands to elongate the shape so it is thicker at one end than the other, then pinch the end between your fingers to make a flat shape.

I have a set of modelling tools which are great when you are making things like this. There's one that has an end that looks like a fluted shell:

Press this into the end of the fish to give a fin effect.

Roll some thin sausage shapes from white fondant and stick around the fish to make stripes.

Make a short thick sausage shape and use your finger to squash at both ends to make a sort of bow shape, and stick this on top of the fish to make a fin. Make two thick semi circles and stick these on each side. I used the same modelling tool to make indentations.

's another tool which is perfect for making a smiley mouth!

Press into the fish's face to make a mouth, then roll two small balls of white fondant and two tiny balls of black fondant (you can also use piping icing or an edible ink pen) for the eyes.

I wanted to make a fish's tail so it would look like one was diving under the water. This is what you do: Colour some white fondant - in this case I went for a paler orange. Roll a thick ball and cut in half with a knife; this will be the end of the fish's body (left). Roll out a thick circle and use a heart-shaped cutter to cut a piece out then slice the bottom of the heart shape off with a knife. Stick this onto the body, using some edible glue if necessary.

To make the next fish, an angel fish, I added some Dr. Oetker gel colour to some white fondant. In the past I've been quite disappointed with supermarket food colouring and I never use liquid food colouring any more. Dr. Oetker has a range of gel colours that are not as strongly pigmented as the professional brands like Wilton or Sugarflair, but they are inexpensive and easily available in supermarkets. I decided to use the violet Dr. Oetker colour for this fish as I wanted a relatively pale lilac, but for a stronger, more vibrant colour I would always use Sugarflair.

To make this fish, roll a large ball and slightly pinch at one end. Make a short sausage and use your thumb to press into both ends to flatten them; then use the same tool as before to add the markings. Fix the tail onto the body, using edible glue if necessary.

Make a fin in the same way to go on top of the fish and flatten two small balls for the fins at the side. Use the same tool as before to make the mouth, and roll tiny balls of white and black fondant to make the eyes.

Finally I coloured a small piece of fondant with Wilton black gel colour and shaped it into a triangle to look like a shark's fin. And now your fish are ready to go on the cake!

For the cake I chose a recipe from the Good Housekeeping Baking Book for an Easter Chocolate Fudge Cake, though I didn't use the recipe given for the icing or decoration. I doubled the recipe but made the cake in two separate tins rather than slice a large cake through the middle.

For each cake, you need (so double this to make both layers):
175g butter
150g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
150g light brown sugar
3 eggs
250ml sour cream
1 tsp vanilla flavouring

For the filling:
about 100ml double cream
100g plain chocolate
100g softened butter
200g icing sugar
blue food colouring
about 40-42 Kit Kat fingers
and of course your fondant fish!
Preheat oven to 180C. Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.

Beat the butter and sugar together in a separate bowl.

Beat in the eggs, and then the flour and cocoa mixture. Then beat in the sour cream and vanilla.

Grease and line an 8 inch loose-bottomed cake tin; I sprayed mine with PME cake release.

Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for about 45 minutes. If you have two tins of the same size you can bake both cakes at once, but I did it separately.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin

Then turn onto a baking rack to cool.

I made a chocolate ganache by melting the chocolate and cream together; it doesn't take long to thicken and set.

I spread this between the two cakes and spread a little of the ganache on the top and around the sides too. I took the Kit Kats out of their packets and stuck them one by one around the side of the cake.

I love the way this looks!

I decided to make some white chocolate ganache which I coloured aqua with food colouring, but the white chocolate just wouldn't set and my ganache was still very runny. I spooned it on top but a few minutes later it started to seep out between the Kit Kats - so I wouldn't recommend doing it this way!

Instead I decided to make some buttercream which I also coloured, though it looks quite pale in this photo as I was using the camera flash. Spooning the buttercream on in a fairly haphazard manner looked a lot like waves on the ocean.

Finally place your fish on top.

kit kat cake

fishpond cake

This was very popular with my work colleagues and I know they are all going to miss my baking! 
So long, and thanks for all the fish!

I'm sharing this with Tea Time Treats, the blog challenge hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and Janie of the Hedgecombers, as their theme this month is chocolate.

I am also sending this to Love Cake, hosted by Jibber Jabber, as the theme is "baking with passion". Everyone I worked with knows I have a passion for baking and this cake was a real labour of love as the fondant fish did take quite a long time!


  1. so cute.. love the little Nemo!

  2. That is so crazy cute! Love the little fish, great job Caroline! Thanks so much for sharing with Tea Time Treats :)
    Janie x


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