Saturday, October 19, 2013

Chinese Red Dragon Cake

When one of my coworkers asked me if I could make a Chinese Red Dragon Cake for her son's first birthday - who was born in the Chinese Year of the Dragon - I was secretly a little scared, and thought, how in the heck am I going to pull that off?  You see, every cake design is a learning experience for me, because (almost never) does someone request something that I have already made and am somewhat comfortable with.

But I agreed to make it, and started looking up images of dragons.  I looked at many, many images before I found one I liked, and that I thought I could replicate in a cake design.

After choosing the picture, I gave a lot of thought as to how I would decorate the cake.  She had asked for a vanilla cake, with lemon curd filling, and lemon yellow buttercream, with a red dragon.

I thought of piping the dragon with buttercream, but wasn't sure I'd be able to make it look right.  Also, red buttercream is so bold, and one mistake could have ruined the cake.

So I decided gum paste was the way to go.  I made the head and feet first, just by using a knife and cutting the shapes free-hand, attaching the ear, tongue, claws and spiky bits with a little water.  After they dried, I added a little embellishment with a black, edible food-coloring marker.

As for the body, I did not want to make one solid piece, which would be too cumbersome and would have to be removed before cutting the cake.  So instead, I just cut a whole bunch of little circles for the dragon's scales and triangles for the spikes along his back, knowing that all those little pieces would be easy to cut through when serving the cake.  With all the pieces dried, I arranged them on parchment paper to get an idea of how I wanted to place them on the cake.

So, once I had frosted the cake, decorating it was just a very simple matter of sticking all those little pieces into the frosting to create a dragon.

I was so happy with how this turned out, but more importantly, they loved it, too!


  1. This cake is wonderful and you did a great job by creating such a perfect dragon. I'm very impressed by what you can make with gum paste. Happy birthay to little Clark!

  2. Hello Heather,
    I love this cake. A friend of mine asked me to make a cake for her husband's 50th and they lived in China for a long time. I thought this would be perfect. Can I ask you, how did you get the gum paste dragon pieces to stick on the cake? Did you just set them into the buttercream or did you use something else to secure them to the side? Thank you so much! I'm a new fan of your blog:)

    1. The dragon pieces are sticking directly to the buttercream, which will work if you stick them on right after frosting the cake, before the buttercream crusts over. If you wait to decorate, and the buttercream has already crusted over, then just pipe little dots of fresh buttercream onto the back of each piece, which will act as edible glue to adhere them to the cake. I'm sure he'll love the cake!

    2. Thank you so much! I'm hoping I can get it to look at least half as good as yours.

    3. I made the cake! It turned out great, only my roses aren't as pretty as yours. I thought it was tip 1M. What was it after all? It took SO long to cut the pieces out to make sure he was the right size and looking uniform. I wish I had made a bigger cake because he was too big to fit on the side, so he starts on top and then wraps around, which worked out fine. Your cake idea was wonderful! Thank you again!

    4. You're right, the tip was a 1M.


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