My youngest brother has set off to serve a two year, LDS mission in Phoenix, AZ. For his farewell party/open house, I decided to make him a cake. I started off making an Almond Butter Cake. I used a recipe from Elisa Strauss' book, 'The Confetti Cakes Cookbook'. It was the recipe for Vanilla Cake, but I changed the flavoring. It turned out well with a balanced texture. I will probably use it as my staple basic cake. I made a butter cream, adding some of my mom's raspberry jam. Next I printed an outline of Arizona and used it as a template for shaping the cake. I ended up with two layers and used the butter cream as the filling and for the crumb coat.
Something I've found useful is using a piece of cardboard under the cake. When the cake is finished, then I will either trim down the cardboard (so it isn't visible) or lift the cake off (doesn't work for larger cakes).
I decided to make a white chocolate marshmallow fondant. I usually make marshmallow fondant, because it is so yummy! I wanted to try something new, but next time I'll save the new stuff for practice. The white chocolate fondant was a lot harder to work with and I didn't like the taste.
I did a lot of marbling with the colors. I also dusted some cocoa powder in areas to make the state look more rustic. My mom helped me come up with idea of putting the fondant version of my bro relaxing on his back. I added a little lizard popping over his shoulder, along with some scriptures and two cactus'.
The final step was to draw on the faces, tie and tag. I used some edible writers, but they were low on color and didn't produce the result I was looking for. I wish I would have done them in fondant or hand painted...live and learn. I had a fun time making it and my little brother was thrilled.