The goal of this project was to send a cupcake to another hackerspace. Cupcake should get there in good shape, looking awesome, and not be repulsive when eaten.
More information can be found on Hackerspaces.org
This year we attempted to make a flat packed Cupcake. By simplifying the the cupcake into a flat mostly square shape packing for stability should be easier. so that all shapes could be cut out of one sheet of cake and still fit squarely together when turned in three dimensional it was necessary to make the shapes out of primitive cubes.
Clay was used to make the very first attempt at laying out the model. It ended up being hard to work with as the unfired clay would stick to each other. It did lead to the realisation that the shapes resembled tetras shapes and such determined the theme of the cupcake.
Though the first attempt at CAD for the cupcake was in openscad Joe quickly got frustrated with it and swapped to sketch up.
The model was made by making the primitive shapes from Tetris with a third dimension added to them.
The primitives where then duplicated and rotated to fit together in an aesthetically pleasing way. They needed to have a base of 60cmX60cm. The top was left jagged to give the appearance of a Tetris game being played.
To Trim the new completed cube down a cupcake model was generated with the inside dimensions of a cupcake cup along with a cube resting on top.
Preforming a Boolean intersection operation against each of the parts of the cube and the cupcake model gives the modified shapes we need to fit it into the cup.
A duplication of the trimmed model so that it can be laid flat to make the pattern for cutting out of the cake.
Another duplication was made but just of the visible side of the cupcake top. This would be the templates to cut the fondant.
I would like to say that I just used the Sketchup plug ins to export an SVG of the cupcake layout for cutting into the cake. I would also like to say that I used an unfolding tool and turned the exposed areas of the cupcake top into flag laser cutable paths to cut the fondant but that was not the case. I was unable to get ether to works with plugins I used in the past. I am not sure why but the SVG export tool would not export any part of the cupcake. The unfolding tools I tried did unfold the faces but a key points would unfold them the wrong way.
I ended up turning to Inkscape to draw them by hand. As the blocks are mostly 2cm squares it was easy to draw them out in inkscape. Any place that the shape was cut by the cupcake cut I just modified the line path to match the 3d model.
The unfolded top was told drawn out in Inkscape by hand. I unfolded them in my head and tried to make the seams in favorable places. Again it was made up of fairly uniformed parts so a gird of 2mm helped draw it out fast.
After Joe swapped to Sketchup Aaron proclaimed that he could make it in Openscad just as fast as Joe could make it in Sketchup. A race was then started both of them trying to make the cube of Tetris peaces. In the end Joe barley beat Aaron in the construction of the cube. Aaron's code will be posted at a tribute of his mad scripting skills.
The cake that was made for the cupcake was taken from this recipe
The cake was moist and fluffy but held together nicely when cut. I only fear that it was to moist and that the cake will over saturate the fondant making it melt.
Fondant was chosen for its durability and smooth apprentice. It is not the most pleasant tasting sugar topping but it was a trade of we decided to take.
It was worked till it was soft then food coloring was added to make the "official" colors of the Tetris shapes. after the food coloring was worked onto the fondant so it was not puddling on top it was ran through a pasta maker to mix it in the rest of the way. Letting it sit for 5 min let the colors come out better.
A light engraving was then cut into the sheet of fondant with a laser cutter at 100% speed and 1% power. This is just to give a line to cut on. I was unable to get the fondant to cut fully with the laser cutter without giving it a very unpleasant burnt flavor.
A very thin layer of butter cream icing was used to coat the inside of the fondant. This is to hopefully make it taste better. Unfortunately I think the layer of butter cream was too thing to over power the flavor of the fondant. It is also hopped that this layer of butter cream will help protect the fondant from absorbing to much of the moisture in the cake.
The is normally very important to shipping the cupcakes. With the flat pack attempt of this cupcake just needed to be a formfitting shape. A plug in was used for Inkscape to make a tabbed box. It was cut out of .08" (about 2.03mm) acrylic. The box then had a LVL1 logo rastered into one side and an image based on the interface for the NES Tetris game on the other side.
The thinness of the box was a problem when put into a vacuum seal bag as it was unable to hold up the the pressure. To keep it from collapsing small intersecting plains of acrylic where scattered about the box to keep it from smashing the cupcake.
There is an extrema amount of surface area on the cupcake greatly increasing the rate at witch it will go stale. To help decrease this dry ice was used to flood the package with CO2 before shipping. This risk dropping the temperature of the fondant too fast and causing condensation on it. To prevent the condensation the drive ice only gassed into the package for a short time.
After the package was flooded with CO2 it was vacuum seated with a home vacuum sealing appliance. This may have rendered the process of adding CO2 moot but both was preformed as I did not know how much of a vacuum would be pulled. The vacuum sealing did become problematic as the box needed to be reinforced to not collapse under the strain. It had the added benefit of holding the box together. We did not want to glue the box for fear of contaminating the cupcake. The pressure applied by the vacuum sealed bad seems to be holding the walls of the box in place.