TARDIS Cake


It’s a TARDIS! It’s bigger on the inside! It’s two feet tall (quarter scale)! And aside from the lights, everything you see is edible. Click for lots more detail and in-process shots.

I love Dr. Who. Just a few weeks ago my sister-in-law and I waited in line for five hours to get good seats at the Dr. Who panel at Comic-Con. Totally worth it!

Since I would have to be a Time Lord to make a Tardis cake that could actually go anywhere in time and space, I decided to do the next best thing – make a Tardis cake that’s bigger on the inside. Or at least appears to be. Like I said, I’m not a Time Lord. I chose to go with the new Tardis interior because, as it is both more organic and more interestingly illuminated than any previous Tardis interior, I thought it would be the most visually effective.

First I had to figure out the best way to create the illusion of a more spacious interior. I tried to consult the internet about optical illusions, but didn’t find anything helpful, so I went with old fashioned trial and error. I played around with a lot of different configurations, eventually settling on two convex mirrors arranged at about a 45 degree angle. To get the curve I wanted, I used flexible carnival mirror, glued onto my custom made wood and mat board form.

Next, in order to illuminate the inside of the Tardis and the “Police Box” signs on the outside, I needed to learn at least a little bit about electronics. So I ordered a DIY Electronics Kit from the MakerShed that was really sort of geared for pre-teens, but it was also very helpful. Armed with new-found knowledge of resistors and LEDs, I trolled the internet for the best deals and ordered a total of 385 LEDs in blue, aqua, green, yellow, white, and flashing white. They didn’t all make it into the cake, but I did wind up using enough of them that I used seven nine-volt batteries that power them. I embedded these batteries into a plywood base and mounted the mirrors.

With my structure in place, it was time to start making gum paste pieces. The exterior required fifty-two separate pieces of gum paste – two for the panels on each of the four sides plus one inward-facing panel for the side that looked into the interior and three to back the windows on the other three sides, six for each of the four “Police Box” signs (some of which were quite tedious, as I had to painstakingly cut out the words to let the light through), and sixteen for the roof. Later I needed an additional seventy-two pieces of gum paste for the window frames and mullions. I went with a grey-blue marbled effect because I thought it would look more convincing and more interesting than a uniform color field.

To make the interior I started with a gum paste floor with cutouts to let the light through from all the white LEDs embedded in the base. In order to enhance the illusion of interior space and elevate the bottom of the central console sufficiently to make it easily visible through the windows, I gave the floor a serpentine curve, supported by gum paste struts. Then I stuck a layer of rice paper to the top of the gum paste floor and painted it dark grey with food coloring. On top of this I piped grey royal icing expanded steel. It went pretty quickly, because I got a lot of practice making royal icing expanded steel when I was making the Demolition Cake. To give it a nice sheen, I went over it with some silver luster dust.

Now it was time to make the control console. Fortunately, thanks to the mirrors, I only needed to make one eighth of it. The console structure is gum paste and sheet gelatin, assembled around blue, green, and aqua LEDs and attached to the mirrors with clear piping gel. Then I had a good time sticking on a myriad of gum paste and royal icing levers, dials, cables, monitors, etc. At times the mirrors made things a little difficult because it was sometimes hard to remember which was the real console and which was the reflection. Liberal use of silver, bronze, and gold luster dust made everything nice and shiny.

With the interior finished, I assembled the exterior gum paste pieces, adding the royal icing molding around the perimeter of each recessed panel, and installing the window mullions and backing.

It was at this point in the process that we decided that we really should schedule a party so that we would have something to do with this cake when it was finished. Fortunately, we have a lot of nerd friends, so we soon had about forty positive rsvps to our evite. It was also at this point in the process that I took some time off to go to Comic-Con and then on a family trip to Colorado, so my gum paste pieces had a long time to thoroughly dry. This was definitely an advantage, because it would have been very hard to assemble the cake with anything less than 100% dry gum paste and because the pieces were so large that they did require some significant drying time.

A week before the party I began assembling the exterior, beginning by putting together the “Police Box” signs around my strings of white LEDs. I backed the cutout letters with rice paper, both to diffuse the light and so that I could stick the free-floating interior pieces of the O’s, P’s, A’s, and B’s to the rice paper.

Because of the mirrors and the interior space only a little less than half of the interior was actually going to be made of cake. This meant that I could install two of the four sides prior to baking any cake and even attach and solder their respective “Police Box” signs.

Three days before the party I baked the cake. We decided to go with a banana cake with chocolate buttercream icing because, to quote the Doctor, “You should always bring a banana to a party. Bananas are good.” I needed a total of eight two inch tall, ten inch square cakes. Of the eight cakes, seven of them were cut in half on the diagonal and stacked in the body of the Tardis. The last cake was reserved for the square top section.

With the cakes in place, I covered them with a layer of fondant, to prevent the gum paste exterior pieces from coming into contact with the buttercream, which would moisten, soften, and weaken the gum paste. Then I was able to install the last two side pieces and their respective “Police Box” signs.

I put the top section together separately, carving the slanted roof, covering it with fondant, and then assembling the gum paste pieces around it with royal icing. I left a hole through the middle, so that I could run blinking LEDs through it for the light on top. Once the top section was in place, my Tardis really started to look like a complete piece, but it still needed a lot a detail work.

I used fondant rather than gum paste to cover the base and for the trim on the corners and in the center of each side panel because some of them needed to be relatively thick, which is easier to accomplish with fondant. I did use gum paste, however, for the thin strips of molding around the perimeter of each “Police Box” sign.

To make the little light on top, I wrapped rice paper around gum paste circles, then put panels of sheet gelatin on top of that, followed by gum paste trim and royal icing mullions. The curved top is gum paste dried over Styrofoam balls.

With all the major features in place, I went over the entire structure with royal icing smoothed with a damp paintbrush, to hide unwanted seams and fill in a few gaps. Then, to give it that distressed look of a vehicle that’s been to the end of the universe and back again, I went into all the corners with some black powdered food coloring on a soft paintbrush.

To make the sign for the front of the Tardis, I blew up an image of it to the correct size and then essentially made some edible transfer paper by coating the back with black powdered food coloring. I put this on top of a dry white piece of gum paste and traced all the letters with a stylus to transfer the text onto the gum paste below. Then I painted over the letters with black paste color.

The finishing touches were the royal icing handles, hinges, and tacks to hold on the sign, and the gum paste lock.

Carrying the cake to the table for the party was a bit stressful and difficult, as it probably weighed fifty pounds and all of the weight was in one half of the cake. Part of me was convinced that, after literally months of planning and building, I was going to drop it at the penultimate moment. But actually the move went perfectly smoothly. I got my brother-in-law to help me and he even bravely volunteered to carry the heavy end.

I’m really pleased with the way this one came out, maybe more so than any cake I’ve ever made before. Please note that, with the exception of the mirrors, the electronics, and the wooden base and dowels and foam core separators that would needed in any cake this size, it is entirely edible. (And if anyone knows how to make an edible mirror, please let me know.) It’s hard to capture the “bigger-on-the-inside” effect in a photo, but I do think it was pretty darned successful. By an odd coincidence, Cake Wrecks (one of my favorite websites) did a Dr. Who post on the very same day that we had our party, so I immediately sent them photos of the cake, mere hours after it had been consumed, and they very kindly posted it right away!

For hours after we attended the Dr. Who panel at Comic-Con, my sister-in-law and I were all a-twitter about how awesome it was; now I still kind of feel that way about this cake.

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124 thoughts on “TARDIS Cake

  1. That is crazy creative–amazing! How long did it take you? What problems did you run into?

    I feel good about myself when I tint some buttercream frosting and decorate my kids' cakes…

  2. yeah, this is soooooo amazing… i can't believe the level of detail you go to! it is such an inspiration, really. And my boyfriend and i both grew up on Dr. Who back in the '80s, so this is super nostalgic as well. Thank you so much, and you did an excellent job!! (Looks like it was delicious, too!)

  3. This is without a doubt, the most amazing piece of Doctor Who fan creativity I have ever seen!

    And to think, the Doctor thought edible ball bearings were amazing! How about edible expanded steel flooring and brass doorhandles?!

    Nat.

  4. you are my hero. This is without a doubt, the coolest and most accurate cake I have ever seen! Genius! The Doctor would be impressed.

  5. Amazing, amazing, amazing, amazing! Simply FANTASTIC! It made me and my whole familys' jaw drop! I wish I had the patience to make one!

  6. I have to say this is the most amazing cake ever. The detail is wonderfully accurate and minute. All I could think while looking at it was this is what I need for a wedding cake. Its beautiful, congrats!

  7. This is f-ing amazing! You could make a mint selling these. Hell if I had the $ I would pay you to come to NYC make one for my SciFi group…

    You rock!

  8. You are my new hero! Do you give lessons? I am getting started and I can't wait to be as skilled as you are. Just Amazing!
    Deirdre

  9. Came from Cake Wrecks. This is absolutely, bloody brilliant!!! Don't be surprised if you get commissions from the Dr. Who folks!!!

  10. This is, without a doubt, the single most outstanding piece of cake art I have ever seen. I am truly and utterly blown away.. Fantastic!

  11. How is that a cake? I applaud you for the modeling but it's ruined by adding food to it. Which is pointless at this point and just a hassle. Either make a cake, or a model. Not both in one.

  12. I suspect an adequate quote would be:
    "The Doctor: You've built this system out of food and string and staples. Professor Yana, you're a genius."
    Alright, I hope you're no Yana, but you're still a bloody genius.

  13. How long did the whole project take from beginning to end (including trial and error)? It's so amazing, I wouldn't have the heart to eat it.

  14. Seems such a shame to make parts of it edible/perishable. Edible doesn't equal delicious and to think of all that lovely work spoiled to consume it makes me sad.

  15. I found this randomly, and can I just say: Oh. My. God. This is the most amazing, fantastic, STUPENDOUS cake I have ever seen, and also the greatest model of the TARDIS outside of the one in the BBC studios itself. I am absolutely in awe. The interior through the windows, and the lights, and it looks just like my favourite version of the TARDIS, and on top of all of that it's edible!
    You should be so, so proud. And also, you should make a non-edible one to keep forever! (or I would if I knew how to do it, hehe :) )

  16. There are two ways you can make an edible mirror. The first (and best) idea is to make sugar glass with aluminum. Make a base and line the bottom with the shiny side of the aluminum. It wont have the best reflection like a real mirror. The second option is to make sugar glass again but air brush the back with one of those shiny edible paints. The first option will probably be your best bet since some of the really shiny paints are not that good for you and will not reflect as well as aluminum.

    I was wondering what were the dimensions of your cake. You did not use anything of standard size to use as a scale for the cake. Other than that the cake is freaking FANTASTIC!!!

  17. This is, hands-down, the most incredible cake I have ever seen. The detail work that went into making such a flawless rendition of the beloved TARDIS is stunning. I wish every Dr. Who fan could see this. Absolutely amazing. A big congratulations on your creation!!

  18. i wouldnt have believed it if i hadnt seen it step by step.it is just to amazing for words.i design/make cakes but im a beginner compered to you skill.you are THE god of cake designers everywhere :)

  19. Truly awesome… I am blown away! Some people (myself included) couldn't even make a model this well… but a CAKE? Congrats guys!

  20. I keep scrolling back up to look at the inside effect, and I keep being absolutely amazed. I'm not normally into cake art, but compared to the cakes I've seen before this, this is in a completely different dimension!

    It would have been phenomenal even as a wooden model; as a cake it is even more precious, because the work is begun, and passionately pursued, even while knowing that what is created cannot last. Because really, what banana-flavoured object could ever be expected to last?

  21. wow you have combined my two favourite things a tardis and some cake , it must have been heart breaking to destroy and hard to make but yeah wow just wow wow wow wow

  22. We agree with all the WOW people… You are the goddess of cake. This is AMAZING! Why did you eat it? I would have cried eating a cake of such mastery. You really are amazingly talented. And committed! Wow. Just… Wow…

    Would you like to come to my birthday and make me a cake? *offers soul*

  23. That is absolutely the most fantastic thing I have ever seen! The amount of work and detail you put into it is phenomenal. You deserve some kind of medal!! :)

  24. I am a long time Doctor who fan, and in the midst of writing a Doctor Who novel. I needed a break from the writing, and stumbled upon this fantastic work of Art. you captured it brilliantly!!! Hats off to you!

  25. i think its really good shame that it wasnt all done by cake after all ive seen shows do it where they do all of it in cake owever use battery operated light and sounds and stuff to make it look and sound realistic…… not critiscising just saying :P good work though

  26. is there any way to get this in like a step-by-step guide? I really want to make this for my birthday (I'm such a Who fan it's ridiculous).

  27. By far the coolest cake i've ever seen. I love how the extreme concept actually worked. Catch is once you've made a cake that great, how do you top it?

  28. This is fantastic! I cannot believe level of detail you put into this masterpiece, especially when compared to my tried and true smear-icing-on-my-burnt-cupcakes method. I'm amazed that the interior isn't just a picture, I didn't think it was real cake! As a huge Doctor Who fan, you are forever my cake hero.

  29. Dude, those pictures are obviously Photoshopped. Everybody knows that… (drumroll)… THE CAKE IS A LIE! (slapshot)

    (And before anyone posts an objection, that was a indeed a joke. "The cake is a lie" is a reference to a video game called "Portal".)

  30. That is the most amazing TARDIS cake I've ever seen.

    I've seen pics online of people attempting to make Dalek cakes. Maybe you should do one of those next? One lady even made a talking Dalek cake!

  31. Hi there! I linked your entry here to my blog, where I go over some of my favorite Doctor Who related things in honor of Tardis Day. :D Just a heads up! Love this cake!!

  32. Bloody hell! That must have been painful to cut and eat such a beautiful cake! The best Doctor Who cake… no, the best cake in general that I have ever seen!

  33. Holy crap!
    I write a Doctor Who Baking blog, but my creations are just crap in comparison to this.
    I just…..it's completely amazing! You guys are crazy! I don't know how you have the patience, I really don't.
    I think I love you guys
    xxx

  34. I am making a TARDIS cake for my brother’s birthday, and googled to see what other people had come up with. I almost didn’t click on yours because I thought that there was no way it was an actual cake. Incredible work, I am in awe! And I thought my hobbit hole cake was good!

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  37. I just clicked on the link from cakewrecks because I thought that they must have made a mistake and posted pictures of a model instead! I am in awe of this cake. I love to watch cake shows on tv, but you are able to make them all look like amateurs! I wish that I could have seen the show Dr. Who, so that I could fully appreciate what you have done here. Absolutely amazing work!

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  39. I am a professional cake decorator and this is beyond anything I could EVER imagine! You are amazing, patient, talented, creative, clever…and more. Were you not absolutely heartbroken when it was cut into to eat? I am absolutely blown away by this! Wow!

  40. I’ve seen a lot of amazing cakes in my time and been astonished by the creativity, patience, skill and art that’s gone into them…but this knocks them all into a cocked hat! I’ve never seen anything with this level of artistery. Like a lot of people I actually thought it was a model, not a cake. I was googling tardis cakes simply because I thought it was easier than making a dalek cake, but I now realise how much I over simplified the task. It never occurred to me to worry about lighting the cake, let alone constructing an edible simulcrum of the dimensionally warped interior. I’m completely awestruck…and rather curious about what sort of things you do in the rest of your life and how you do them…Only a fairly extraordinary sort of person could make an exceptionally extraordinary cake like this, imho…

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  44. A model TARDIS is hard enough. One that seems to be larger on the inside is an impressive undertaking. But you went and made yours EDIBLE. *Slow Clap* Bravo…

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  46. One word…FANTASTIC!(said in Doctor accent, the north).
    Ok, maybe this comment will not be one word, but wow, just wow! It’s got to be one of the most wonderful things I have seen. I am also a cake designer and I have been wanting to take on a Tardis, but I think you take the “cake”.
    You are an amazing artist! It’s people like you who inspire and push the boundaries of classical cake decorating.

  47. Thanks , I’ve recently been looking for info approximately this subject for a long time and yours is the greatest I’ve came upon so far. But, what in regards to the bottom line? Are you sure in regards to the supply?|What i don’t realize is actually how you are now not actually much more neatly-appreciated than you may be now. You are so intelligent.

  48. We’re a bunch of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community. Your web site provided us with valuable information to paintings on. You have performed an impressive process and our entire group will likely be thankful to you.

  49. My friend sent me this link. I love this thing. Though honestly I agree with at least one other person said. It could be a cake or a home-made model. Not both. Why go through all the work and planning to send it all to the toilet for one. And two, why have so little cake in the end?

    I am probably gonna take some ideas and pointers out of this and pair it with instructions to make a model Tardis to make my own miniature Tardis that looks like I want lol

  50. Hey, could you send me instructions to make this cake? Please! We are having a Doctor Who party when season 7 comes back on. Thanks!!

  51. what kind of led bulb did you use cuz I saw too many list of them 3mm, 5mm, 6000 mcd, 7000 mcd, etc… what the difference between them?

  52. This cake is fantastic. Where did you get the top light and how did you get it to work? My cake is going to be half that size and I don’t quite know where to begin, because I’d like to do the noise too but I can always cheat with my phone. Thanks!

  53. Holy Moly, that’s amazing! I don’t even watch Dr. Who (though multiple people whose opinion I respect mightily have recommended it, just haven’t gotten around to it), but I think this cake is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen!!!

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