General Question

raum's avatar

What material can I use for fake frosting?

Asked by raum (13206points) November 8th, 2023
34 responses
“Great Question” (4points)

I need to make a cake prop for a theatrical production of Matilda. There’s a scene where one of the characters scarfs a giant chocolate cake.

The usual approach is to have slices of cake that squishes into the table or tray below to produce the illusion of disappearing cake.

I’m planning on making the cake out of high density foam that you’d find in your furniture cushions.

Though for the frosting part, what material could I use that looks like frosting, but is also squishable? Like spackle, but bendy.

Needs to be something I can buy locally and not have to special order! (Rules out stuff like polyurethane liquid mold rubber.)

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Zaku's avatar

There’s foam that can be shaped into, or bought already in, texture that is frosting-like, and is squishable, but I don’t know what it’s called, nor where to get it, now that Friendly Foam is no longer in business.

raum's avatar

@myself [thinking out loud]
Silicone? With some kind of pigment?

I think it would dry before I’m able to mix the pigment and frost the cake. :/

raum's avatar

@Zaku Whoa! That’s super cool! Though sounds like something I’d need to special order?

Zaku's avatar

@raum Unless you have a local source. Friendly Foam was a great indy store because it was run by a foam expert/fanatic, and he liked to solve various problems with foam. If you can find someone like that, they might either sell you something appropriate, or tell you what it’s called and where to get it.

You want chocolate frosting, right? So lots of foam can be dyed brown pretty easily, and lots of foam can be cut or melted to practically any shape. Even a foam mattress topper might work.

raum's avatar

@Zaku I just did a quick google search and found this place.

If someone local has some sprayable foam, it’s gotta be this place, right?

Yes! Chocolate frosting! Argh just realized that the place that I’d usually buy pigment from is closed now. Maybe acrylic with some spray gloss will do the trick?

snowberry's avatar

You could cut foam (the kind used in cushions) into cake slice shapes, color to suit with spray paint, then cut and glue on dark brown fake fur for frosting. From a distance it will look like a chocolate cake, or chocolate cake slices. Squish away to your heart’s content!

raum's avatar

@snowberry Yes! Planning on using that type of foam for the cake slices.

Not sure if fur would work though. It’s not the largest venue and I think the audience would be able to see that it’s fur. :/

raum's avatar

I wonder if this type of spray foam would be spreadable with a knife after being sprayed?

Maybe the expanding would be too much of a wild card?

KNOWITALL's avatar


snowberry's avatar

@raum Try it. Fix it up as realistically as you possibly can. Then have a few people sit in different places close to the stage. And maybe consider adjusting the lighting a bit.

smudges's avatar

First thing I thought of was Crisco

ragingloli's avatar

Shaving foam.

snowberry's avatar

And when you are testing things on your trial audience, try different “frostings” such as different furs. Or frost it with shaving cream from a can just before the scene. That has potential to be messy, but it would be realistic.

raum's avatar

The cake prop needs to be reused for several shows. Squishy like a slow-rise toy. But not messy that gets all over the actors hand. (Not crisco or shaving cream.) And something that retains its shape.

Play dough might work in that respect if I let it air dry? Though I just googled “realistic play dough cake” and it looks more like fondant than frosting. Not what I’m going for, but might work in a pinch if I can’t find the spray foam @Zaku mentioned.

@snowberry I’m having a hard time imagining fur passing as frosting!

I googled and the closest I’d imagine would be like this. Which is super cool. But I’m going for a super classic chocolate cake with frosting look.

More like this. You can google “Matilda cake” or “Bruce Bogtrotter cake”.

raum's avatar

Oh shit! I think this could totally work! Thanks, @kevbo1!!

Going to test run this and @Zaku’s suggestion. Will let you guys know how they turn out.

Thanks, jelly friends!!

Zaku's avatar

That looks like a great foam shop. You might ask them.

I can’t watch this right now, but this video is at least on-topic: HOW TO MAKE FAKE CAKES OUT OF FOAM- D.I.Y DUMMY CAKES FOR THEATRE PROPS

canidmajor's avatar

I love this question! <3

smudges's avatar

I love “Matilda” and almost always watch it when it comes on – which is prob 5–7 times per year. If nothing else I have it on in the background. Best of luck!

raum's avatar

@Zaku I was on the Home Depot site last night contemplating different materials. Ruled out wall filler because I think it dries hard? I need something with some give, so it doesn’t crack when the slices are smooshed.

But dang! I need to save that idea for an art project because making slices of cakes would be so fun!

raum's avatar

Quickie update!

Went to Famous Foam Factory and the lady was really helpful and sweet. She even cut my foam pieces for me for free! (Three 14” rounds.) Huzzah!

Though I may have made a noob move and bought too high quality foam. Doh! Slightly harder to smoosh than I originally planned. But should still work.

She used to carry the spray foam that @Zaku mentioned. But they stopped carrying it because it wasn’t selling. Not enough people needing fake frosting on their foam cakes, I guess. :/

Then stopped by the art store for some spray paint. Explained what my project entailed.

And let me tell you, “caulk” is just one of those words where you just have to try your damn best to pronounce when you’re explaining to a stranger that you need to paint caulk for your cake. LOL

kritiper's avatar

Soap flakes, whipped.

Zaku's avatar

Yay, I’m glad you were able to find a nice good foam expert!

Sounds like you’re well on your way.

Did the Famous Foam lady let you know the brand name of spray foam she used to carry?

raum's avatar

@kritiper Wouldn’t work for this project. Need it to be flexible, but not messy. But that looks super fun and will tuck that into my pocket for some other project!

@Zaku I didn’t think to ask! I figured if a specialized foam place didn’t have it, I wasn’t going to find it locally at the hardware store.

raum's avatar

Second update!

Went to the store for some silicone caulk. Chatted with one of the workers (who just so happened to be a former cake decorator at a bakery!) who suggested just using brown caulk. Ha! Didn’t even think about that. Of course it comes in different colors. [face palm]

Did a test patch on cardboard and it had a close enough consistency to frosting. And didn’t dry as quickly as I remembered. (Damn. How slow was I going caulking the tub last time?)

Frosted the cake and had enough left to pipe on a bit more on top too. Added some rainbow sprinkles. And now I’m waiting for it to dry enough so I can slice the cake and color the inside of the slices. :D

raum's avatar

Secondary question for anyone who is still following along…how long do I need to wait before slicing this thing?

I didn’t slather it on too thick. But the piping is way thicker than the rest.

snowberry's avatar

You had best wait until the caulk is set, or the edges won’t look right when you cut it. When you do cut it, you will need a straight edge and a very sharp blade.

raum's avatar

@snowberry The woman at Famous Foam Factory said a serrated bread knife would work—for the foam. Hope the caulk cooperates too!

Was just banking on the two hour set time as stated on tube of caulk. But I think that’s for a thin layer. Fingers crossed that the “piped frosting” is also good to go tomorrow!

snowberry's avatar

Poke it deeply into a thick part with a needle. if it comes out clean it’s set.

raum's avatar

@snowberry Oh that’s a good idea. I was going to use a toothpick from the underside so you don’t see the hole as much. But a needle would make a way more discreet hole.

raum's avatar

Third update!

Poked the frosting. Still wet inside, but I just went for it because the outside was pretty good. I think it actually kind of worked because it sliced like frosting would (versus perfectly keeping its shape).

Sliced the cake. And spray painted the inner slices.

Now I’ve got eight giant slices of cake drying on my lawn. And bringing a smile to all of the people walking by this morning. :D

Didn’t need to devise a trap door because they want to use a specific desk. They’re just gonna throw the cake slices under the desk. :P

amarsoni25's avatar

not really a frosting, more of a sleek design, but fondant?

raum's avatar

@amarsoni25 I think that would have worked for one shot. But the cake had to be used for multiple shows! Not sure fondant would have held up for that.

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