About Leigh Henderson

Leigh is a cake artist, theatre scholar, and auntie to two boys. Find her on twitter @leighanncakes.

Frost Dragon Cake

*frost dragon with fog

My creative brief for this cake was a frost dragon from Dungeons and Dragons. As far as I was able to discover, there is not actually a canonical frost dragon in D&D, but I found a photo of this figurine and my nephew deemed it acceptable so I set about transforming it into cake. *05-71495

The interior support structure of the dragon is made of foam core and 1/8” brass rod.

The landscape around the dragon is rice krispie treats covered with royal icing, which I applied with an offset spatula then textured with a damp paper towel.

The underbelly of the dragon is also made of rice krispie treats, as a result of which I was reminded of a valuable lesson – rice krispie treats don’t stick very well to foam core, at least not well enough to be used upside down, supporting the weight of a layer of fondant. The rice krispie treats began to separate from foam core, resulting in some big cracks on the dragon’s belly. *IMG_7490

Before it got any worse, I added a few more rock formations to support the belly and patched the cracks with royal icing.

About 2/3 of the tail is also rice krispie treats and the rest of the tail and body in chocolate cake, covered with fondant. The legs are a 50-50 mix of fondant and gum paste. I did all the scale texture with a highly sophisticated tool that I made by cutting a v-shaped notch into a piece of foam core.


Before I attached the head, a 2-year-old friend who was hanging around our house told me that it looked like a dolphin. She’s not entirely wrong.

With the head connected, though, it began to look like a dragon. The head is made of gum paste formed over a mold I made out of foam core. *IMG_7496

The wings are also gum paste, over top of a structure made of wire. The wings were the part I was most nervous about attaching, but they turned out to not be a problem at all.

The treasure chest and the coins are also made of gum paste, with royal icing accents on the chest.

*IMG_7562Because no dragon is complete without a miasma of ominous fog, I ran a PVC tube under the cake board and up into the treasure chest. I hooked this up to a home-made dry ice fogger, which consisted of a 5-gallon bucket with 3 little fans I had lying around glued into a hole I cut in the side of the bucket and – voila! The fog didn’t last too long, because there was no heating element in the fogger, but it was cool while it lasted.

Guardian Skywatcher cake


For his 9th birthday, my nephew asked for Guardian Skywatcher from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. If you aren’t familiar with it, it look something like this:

skywatcher cropped

This was one of those cakes of which I just underestimated the difficulty. In retrospect, the difficulties should have been obvious. The shape of the Guardian Skywatcher is very undercut. It has pieces suspended off the sides by thin supports. The propellers are wide at the tips but narrow in the center. And the entire thing is flying. None of these things are easy to achieve in cake.

Yet I blundered into the project with big ambitions but minimal preparation. Long story short, it was almost, but not quite, a total disaster. Attaching the pieces on the sides was a nightmare. The propellers all broke before the party. Even the pink piping gel I used for the glowing sections faded before the party started. On the bright side, at least the entire structure didn’t collapse, which was a real possibility.

*003 20180106 Sams birthday party DSC_5250

Overall, clearly not my strongest work, but my nephew, who is among the sweetest people in the world, loved it anyway.

Candles are lit

Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild Thunderspears


My nephews are obsessed with Legends of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, so for Christmas I made the real-life versions of one of their favorite weapons from the game – the Thunderspear.


The blade is painted poplar with inset EL wire embedded in resin so that it can light up like the spear in the game. The shaft is a Martha Stewart curtain rod.

Please enjoy their dramatic poses.


Entbrat Halloween costume


This is an Entbrat from a video game called My Singing Monsters.


The headpiece is made of foam core and bristol board, with horns sculpted from crumpled newspaper wrapped in masking tape. The whole thing is covered in felt. Lips, tongue, and teeth are made of craft foam colored with marker. The feet are craft foam covered with felt and the rest of the costume is just store-bought shirt and pants with felt leaves glued on and a belly button drawn on.


Miss Fritter Cake

Miss Fritter 1

Look – it’s  another  Cars-based  cake! And one of my best, if I do say so myself.

If you’re not an avid follower of the Cars franchise, you might not be familiar with Miss Fritter, so if you need to get up to speed, here’s a video clip.

Miss Fritter 2

I’m really happy with how well this one turned out. All the detail is gum paste and royal icing. The hand painting was particularly fun to do.

Miss Fritter 3

I also put Lighting McQueen’s number 95 in the middle of the cake because the birthday boy loves numbers.


The nice thing about this cake was that I could just buy the die-cast toy version of Miss Fritter and measure and scale it up. Then I gave the toy to the birthday boy for his present, so it all worked out perfectly.

Miss Fritter 4

Here is the cake Miss Fritter next to the toy version I modeled it after and the slightly smaller toy version that the birthday boy already had.

Miss Fritter 6

Bluebird Cake


For her granddaughter’s birthday, my friend asked for a cake that somehow combined the themes of bluebirds and the universe.


I came up with this cake that’s sort of a cosmic bluebird in a space nest with planetary eggs in it.


It turned out to be surprisingly elegant, especially when compared to my usual cakes.


The swirl is a gum paste / fondant mix. The planets are isomalt. The bird is gum paste over rice krispie treats. I also put a little blue silhouette of a bird inside the cake.

bluebird inside


Mega Rayquaza Cake

My nephew wanted a Mega Rayquaza cake. If you’re not familiar with Mega Rayquaza, it looks something like this:

Mega_Rayquaza_Mega_Evolution_Special (1)

It’s not really the most conducive shape for a cake, but I like a challenge. It’s made by threading little cylinders of cake, reinforced with discs of chocolate, over a bent steel rod. *IMG_3387

The details are all fondant and gum paste, except for the weird trailing tendril things, which are gelatin.


It wound up being extremely bouncy, which made the drive from our house to the park where the party was kind of stressful and it did suffer some slight damage along the way.

All in all, not my cleanest work ever, but a pretty cool shape to build out of cake nonetheless.


Norbert(a) Cake

*Norbert side

We’re all Harry Potter all the time at our house these days. So for his 8th birthday Sam wanted a cake of Norbert hatching out of an egg on Hagrid’s table. Here is what the scene looked like in the movie.


The thing about baby dragons is that they’re mostly wings. So in order to have enough actual cake in the body to serve the guests, I had to make the cake pretty huge. That base is a 3-foot diameter plywood circle, covered with wood-grained fondant.

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The cake is stacked and sculpted onto a foam core base, supported underneath with aluminum straps, then covered with a mix of fondant and modeling chocolate. I started with a light skin-toned base and airbrushed the colors on top. Sam even helped me sculpt some of the details.

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The wings began with a wire armature, covered with gum paste. The membrane is made of gelatin. I’m particularly pleased with the airbrushed veins.

*2017-01-14 10.23.05

My absolute favorite part about the whole cake, though, is the string of drool hanging from her mouth. It’s piping gel with a strand of sheet gelatin in the middle for structure.

*2017-01-14 10.48.08

To make the egg shell, I draped gum paste over an oversized plastic Easter egg, then Sam helped me to break into pieces and place it around Norbert like he had just hatched out of it.

*Norbert top

The dishes are also made of gum paste. I formed them over a lovely set of china that my sister’s mother-in-law gave her. Obviously, it needed the finishing touch of a little piping gel tea residue in the teacup.

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The treats on the dishes are rock cakes and treacle fudge that Sam and his mom made from recipes in The Unofficial Harry Potter Cookbook. We have also made the pumpkin pasties recipe from this book and all the recipes have turned out great. Highly recommended.

*Norbert front

Inside, the cake is chocolate with chocolate buttercream icing. Sam helped me make that, too. For once, the amount of cake that I made was appropriate to the size of the party.

First piece is for Sam

After the party, I tweeted photos of the cake to J.K. Rowling and she not only liked it, she retweeted it! As a result, my tweet is currently at over 965,000 impressions and 15,500 likes. Based on the replies, Harry Potter fans are some of the nicest people in the world.

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Update: It’s now at over 1,000,000 impressions!

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Monster Book of Monsters

Monster Book of Monsters

My younger nephew loves Harry Potter and he loves animals, so I thought he would like a Monster Book of Monsters for Christmas. I made it in the form of a box so he could use it to keep his special treasures.

Monster Book of Monsters open

I made the box out of plywood. The pages are strips of paper, all glued around the box.

*2016-12-24 13.18.13

I made the eyes out of the little brown stones you use in vases. I got the idea from this tutorial and it worked brilliantly. The face around the eyes, the teeth and gums, and the title text on the cover are made of Model Magic because I wanted a sculptable material that would remain somewhat soft when it dried. The tongue is made out of wood because it also serves as a latch to keep the box closed. The interior of the lid is lined with faux suede and the exterior is, of course, faux fur. I gave it a razor cut with my x-acto knife to make if nice and scruffy looking.

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I think it turned out great and I do think my nephew likes it. It may be a little too accurate, though, because initially he was super creeped out by it and it was at least a week before he would bring it into his own room.

*2016-12-25 10.04.30