Making of the Star Trek Enterprise Wedding Cake

I have always been a big Star Trek fan.  When a customer contacted me about making a Star Trek themed cake for their wedding, I jumped at the opportunity!  It was quite a fun project, although it certainly had a few challenges.  After all, the ship was designed for space travel, not withstanding gravity!

What they were looking for was essentially a replica of the Enterprise from the original series (NCC-1701, no bloody A, B, C or D!) – they were getting married on the50th  anniversary of the first episode airing – how cool is that?

I wanted to make it as close to the ship as I could, while still ensuring there was enough tasty cake to go around.  I dug up some schematics, and calculated everything to scale based on the primary hull “saucer” being a 10″ round cake.  Then I cut up a diaper box and some cardstock and made a scale model.  Because I’m a visual person, I guess!  It really helped me figure out how to piece it all together.

The preliminary design phase

Next, I needed to plan out the internal structure.  The majority of the cake would be the primary hull, the big round disk.  This is one place I didn’t follow scale – I made it much thicker so there would be some actual heft to the cake!  But how do you float an entire cake?  I used an MDF wooden cake board to provide stability.  To attach it to the base, we (my husband did all the woodworking!) cut a “neck” piece to the shape and glued and screwed them all together.

The final internal structure of the Enterprise

We also needed some supports for the nacelles (engines).  They were only 2cm wide by 6mm thick, so not a lot of options for something sturdy that we could attach at an angle.  Originally, we were planning to use wood pieces here again, but getting them cut to size and shape and attaching them to the board proved more challenging than expected.  Enter the trusty 3D printer!  We (again, my “support staff” husband) designed two solid plastic pieces which could hold up the nacelles and not twist or bend.

3D printing in progress!

3D printing in progress!

I debated between making the nacelles (engines) out of something edible like rice cereal treats, but I wasn’t sure I could get them to look straight and cylindrical enough with no bending, and still support them well enough.  I decided go with something else, but it was a challenge in itself to decide what object would meet all the criteria: proper diameter, strong enough to not bend or warp (pun intended), light enough to rest on the skimpy supports (a 30cm cylinder being supported on just 3cm near the front).  I looked at styrofoam cylinders (too wide), wooden dowels (possibly too heavy), and paper towel rolls (too flimsy).  In the end, I found the perfect, heavy duty cardboard tubes from tin foil at the dollar store.  So I unraveled two entire rolls of tin foil just to get at them.

Re-rolled all the tinfoil onto another tube. Still usable!

Re-rolled all the tinfoil onto another tube. Still usable!

After covering the base with black fondant and the wooden and plastic supports with plastic wrap to keep them from contactacting the food, it was time to assemble the cake.  At this point, the top cake was mostly straightforward.  A little carving to get the “dome” effect and it was done.  The secondary hull “body”, was a bit more of a challenge.  I wanted to make sure it was as much cake as possible, but had to work around the supports that were on the board.  I ended up working with two segments which joined to make the body.  I cut a cylinder out of a cake and then carved it and cut out holes for the supports.  I joined them with some toothpicks and filled in any gaps with cake pop mixture and ganache.

I attached the actual cardboard tubes by cutting a hole for the support and putting lots of hot glue on the inside of the tube before sliding the support into the cardboard tube.

Adding the tubes

Adding the tubes

Finally – time to decorate!  I covered everything with a 50/50 mix of fondant and modelling chocolate and tried to get as many details as I could onto the cake.  I was really pleased with how to turned out, and thankfully, so were the bride and groom!