I've been wanting to make a cake with oyster shells for a while, so while planning tutorial content, I had to put this oyster shell ocean cake tutorial at the top of the list. This tutorial features multiple techniques, including fondant marbling, rice paper waves, wafer paper sea foam, sugar pearls and making and painting realistic gum paste oyster shells.
6" and 8" tiers, fully covered in ganache or buttercream
White gum paste
Gel Color - brown, gray, black, sky blue
Silicone mats for rolling fondant and shaping waves
Prepared gum paste oyster shells
White chocolate, melted
Craft tweezers, for applying pearls
My goal for the fondant was to create more of a linear marbling, rather than a fully dispersed, swirled mixed marble. For this technique you will need to panel your cake. I start by making the colors of fondant I want to use. I left some fondant white, but colored some ivory with the ivory gel color, nude with just a smidge of brown gel, and light gray with a smidge of black gel. You will need to make a panel for the 6" tier and the 8" tier and also the rounds for tops of both tiers.
I rolled out each color into rope shapes and place them tightly together.
Roll the fondant together with your hands to form a long, thick rope. Twist the rope to blend the colors.
Roll the paste into a snail shape.
Stretch and lengthen the snail shape and roll into another longer, thick rope.
Once again, roll the fondant into a snail shape.
Roll the fondant out to fit a 6" panel. Panel the cake with the fondant, do not cut the excess paste off the top yet. You'll do this after adding the top panel.
With the leftover marbled fondant from this panel, roll into a rope shape, then into a snail shape.
Flatten the snail shape and roll until about ¼". Cut out a 6" round for the top of the tier.
Place the top panel of the cake. Cut off the excess paste and smooth the fondant and seams with a fondant smoother.
Repeat the steps for the 8" tier.
While the fondant is still pliable, press sanding sugar and white nonpareils into the the cake in random areas. Don't add too many, just enough to give the cake some texture.
Rice Paper Waves
Rice paper can be found in most grocery stores, or Asian markets. Rice paper is used for spring rolls. Soaking them in water softens them and makes them pliable. They can be shaped and will become firm once dry. For my waves, I added a small amount of sky blue to a pan filled with room temperature water. Only a small amount of color is absorbed into the rice paper, so color the water a shade or two darker than the shade you're aiming for. I prepared the shaping forms for my rice paper by wrapping silicone mats around 6" and 8" dummy tiers.
Place a sheet of rice paper into the water, making sure it's fully submerged. Let the paper soak for 20 seconds. Flip the paper over and and let it soak until fully softened.
Remove the rice paper from the water, letting the excess water drip off.
Form the rice paper on the silicone mat, leaving some creases and folds.
Taper the end of the wave a bit. Once you like the shape, leave to dry completely. I made 6 waves total. Reserve the remaining blue water for the wafer sea foam.
Once the waves are dry, use a dry paintbrush and dust the waves with pearl luster dust.
Wafer Paper Sea Foam
To achieve the sea foam look, you will need to fry the wafer paper. This technique is commonly used to make wafer paper lace, but for the foam, the goal to get it to bubble, not to create a lacy texture. I used a standard wafer paper thickness, but you can use what you have on hand. Any will work well for this.
Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat.
While the pan is heating, tear the wafer paper into 4-6 pieces. I used 2 sheets of wafer paper to have a variety of shapes to choose from. You will also be able to shape the wafer paper to the desired size after it has cooled from frying.
Quickly dip the wafer into the reserved blue water and lay it flat into the frying pan. The paper will shrink and bubble. Watch closely to prevent any browning. Reduce the heat a bit if you're seeing any browning.
Once the paper has bubbled and appears dry, remove the wafer and let it cool on a silicone mat or a piece of parchment paper.
Repeat the steps for the remaining paper.
Make sugar pearls with the gum paste by rolling different size balls. Be sure to keep the pearls one the small side. They tend to look a bit unnatural on the cake if they're too big. I made about 20-30 pearls to have some extra on hand. When the pearls are dry, place them into a tiptop bag. Sprinkle a little bit of the luster dust into the bag and seal the top. Shake the bag to fully coat the pearls with luster dust.
There is a full tutorial for these oyster shells here. There you will find the supplies used, how to make them, and a detailed step by step on how to paint them.
Assembling the Cake
The primary focus to this cake is off to the right hand side. The waves should come off and away from the cake. I used 3 waves per tier. There a few ways to attach rice paper waves to the cake. My favorite way is to attach them at the base of the waves with melted white chocolate and freeze spray. Freeze spray dries the chocolate instantly. No slipping or falling waves.
Tear or shape the wafer sea foam into mid size pieces. You can attach the foam with piping gel and (optional) freeze spray as mentioned above. Attach the foam at the bases of the waves. This will cover the ends of the rice waves but also keep the design a bit more seamless. Overlap the foam pieces so that they don't look to separated. Think of it as trying to keep the design as seamless as possible.
Place the oyster shells onto the cake. Again, I used melted white chocolate and freeze spray to attach. I place the oyster shells along the bottom tier, along the 6" tier and at the top of the 6" tier.
With a set of craft tweezers, attach the sugar pearls with piping gel along the edge of the design in clusters, with a few random pearls being placed an inch or two away from the edge of the design.
If you make a cake using any of the techniques within this oyster shell ocean cake tutorial, let me know! Drop a comment or tag me on Instagram. I love seeing your bakes and creations.
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