Jupiter Structural Layer Cake

When I posted the Earth cake, I did not expect it to get anywhere near the amount of attention it received. Getting featured on the Facebook pages Think Geek and I Fucking Love Science was a total highlight of my blogging life. I’m big fans of both pages so it was kind of surreal. A lot of my Zoology graduate mates are also fans of IFLS and you’d often hear conversations in the Masters office beginning with, “Did you see that post by IFLS today?” So I woke up to several of them messaging me about it and we all got super excited over it.

With the exposure those pages brought came a whole lot of people who wanted to know how to make it. I still get a couple of emails a week asking for a recipe. The cake was a total experiment on my part, and not one that went flawlessly. There were many imperfections within the cake and I never share recipes unless I know it’s absolutely tried and true. I’d hate to be responsible for a baking fail simply for giving a botched up recipe. But I also hate letting people down. So I decided to re-visit the concept so I could make a tutorial. That will come later in the week as I’m still editing it. But first, here’s the result of round 2.

Cakecrumbs' Jupiter Structural Layer Cake

One question I got asked a lot was if it was possible to make it a sphere. Absolutely it is. If you can make the hemisphere a sphere is easy. I didn’t want to make another Earth cake as I hate repeating bakes, so I opted to decorate it as something new. I threw around a few ideas ranging from something floral to a giant pokéball, but in the end I just wanted to make another planet.

Choosing a favourite planet was tough. As a kid I was fiercely passionate about two things: animals and the solar system. I ended up following the path of the former and never kept up to date with the latter, but the inner passion for astronomy has never died. Space is just so freaking cool. Our solar system alone is filled with so many fascinating planets, dwarf planets and all their satellites — choosing just one felt treacherous.

Cakecrumbs' Jupiter Structural Layer Cake

In the end I settled on Jupiter predominantly for one reason: its Great Red Spot. The giant anticyclonic storm has always been one of my favourite things and continues to be a subject of great fascination for me. At thrice the size of the Earth it’s bewildering to comprehend the actual magnitude of it. If I absolutely have to choose a favourite planet, it’s got to Jupiter for that storm alone. It’s also so iconic. It’s a characteristic feature almost everyone is familiar with, making it easier to create something that would be instantly recognisable.

The red spot is one of a number of storms you can see all over Jupiter. Some of them last hours, others last for centuries. The red spot had been around since the early 1800s, and it’s possible that it may remain as a permanent feature of the planet. It would be fascinating to see Jupiter if the storm did in fact die out, or if another large one were to appear. The smaller white storms are made up of cool clouds in the upper atmosphere, whereas the brown dots are composed of warmer clouds in the lower atmosphere.

Cakecrumbs' Jupiter Structural Layer Cake

I detailed the atmosphere of Jupiter by covering the cake with ivory marshmallow fondant, then dry brushing a combination of ivory, brown and maroon edible ink. The top ended up being a bit more saturated as I was largely experimenting with colours at that point and was throwing in a bit of yellow. I ended up sticking mostly with ivory and adding extra detail with the brown. Once all the base colours were down I started removing colour to create the storms or other distinguishing features and topping it off with highlights. The whole process took about 8 hours with teeny tiny brushes.

Cakecrumbs' Jupiter Structural Layer Cake

Here’s a 360 of the cake:

Cakecrumbs' Jupiter Structural Layer Cake Cakecrumbs' Jupiter Structural Layer Cake

It was kind of difficult to get good reference shots of the non-red-spot sides of Jupiter, particularly to get consistent ones. They were all taken over many different years and influenced by many different weather events so there was lots of variation. But I got enough to get a rough guestimate of the more static features of Jupiter’s atmosphere. The rest I’ll just claim as artistic license.

Finally came time to cut the cake and see how there spheres lined up inside. It turned out better matched than I’d anticipated.

Cakecrumbs' Jupiter Structural Layer Cake

When my sister asked me what I was making and I said Jupiter, she said to me, “I didn’t even know Jupiter had layers.” It’s amazing how much we can forget after learning it in primary school. So here’s a rehashing for those of you who’ve also forgotten. Our knowledge is mostly theoretical of course, but the gas giants are thought to have a core comprised mostly of rock and ice. This is surrounded by a layer liquid metallic hydrogen, and the outer layer is composed of molecular hydrogen. *cake is totally not to scale

Cakecrumbs' Jupiter Structural Layer Cake

In cake speak, this translates to a core made of mudcake, surrounded by almond butter cake, surrounded by a tinted vanilla Madeira sponge. There’s a crumb coat of vanilla buttercream underneath the fondant.

This run went so much better than the first, informed by the mistakes and lessons learned in the mean time. So I feel much safer sharing the process with you guys now. Stay tuned for that later this week if all goes to plan.

ETA: Tutorial is now here.

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174 thoughts on “Jupiter Structural Layer Cake

  1. What the what! Rhiannon this is INCREDIBLE. I saw an article with your cakes posted on Facebook by Canadian astronaut/space hero Chris Hadfield and did a double take when I saw your name. YOU ARE SO TALENTED IT’S CRAZY! Congratulations on all the good press and attention – so well deserved! I’m off to check out your tutorial now… :D

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  3. I adore you, most particularly on all the reasonings about “why Jupiter” let alone the methodology you used to create it. Just like me! Okay, not much on the making cakes, but I used a similar approach to a Moon pinata years ago. You’re awesome! Many thanks for sharing! :)

  4. OK so I am not a fan of cake of any description. This changed my mind. It is incredible & fun :)

    What a great planet we live on sometimes.

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  6. Just reading about this in NZ – First time I’ve ever read a cake blog. Love the wording in this piece, very well written. Just when I thought the cake couldn’t get any better, the inner layers are revealed with a handy description! Looks delicious!

  7. Are we all just gonna ignore Frank Hebert’s grandchild and this superskillz baker making the greatest power duo of the century?

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  11. Hi! I’m Dominika from Poland. I’m interested in astronomy, and I’ve found this sweet Jupiter on space.com. I’ve got an astronomy blog. I really wnat to show my readers your great cake. But not only Jupiter, I’ve found on this site also the Earth. So please give me permission to use your photos on my blog http://www.fly-off-into-nasa.blogspot.com. Naturally I’ll write that you own this photos and I share with my readers with a link to your blog. I’m waitnig for your answer. Greetings from Poland ;-)

  12. this is stunning and so inspirational. I made a Neptune cake (just a hemisphere) for my cousin’s birthday. cutting into it yesterday was SUCH a wonderful moment. thank you!

  13. My daughter was assigned to bring in a visual representation of Jupiter for her Science project and this cake couldn’t have been more perfect! Rhiannon, I simply cannot thank you enough for the inspiration and instruction you have so freely given to anyone who wants it! Wow!! I was really unsure I could pull this off, since I haven’t baked anything more complicated than a simple round cake before. I chickened out on the fondant at the last minute and just went with buttercream and painted on top of that. Thank goodness it worked! The cake was a huge hit and my daughter was so proud to call this her project! Ours certainly isn’t as beatiful as your original or others we have seen, but as amateurs in every sense of the word, we were thrilled with how this came out!! You are amazing and I am forever a huge fan!! Here is my FB album for anyone who may want to see our final product. https://www.facebook.com/?sk=h_chr#!/lori.sorenson.5/media_set?set=a.401644469961220.1073741826.100003470101650&type=1

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  15. How did you get that shape and how did you do the layers?
    I’ve been forming up ideas on how to make a cake like this but all of my ideas take a ton of backwards steps and wasting cake.

  16. WOW!!!! :D This is an AMAZING cake,you did a really awesome job on it. I want to make this cake for my advanced science teacher, because she is so nice and cool and she REALLY likes the solar system. So I was wondering if you could do a tutorial for how to make the atmosphere of this cake (or really any other planet). Thanks in advance. ;)

    • It’s unlikely that I’ll do a tute on painting any specific thing as there is no actual process. That, and given that it’s an 8 hour process that is not something anyone is gonna want to sit through! As with any type of painting, it’s simply a matter of building up base colours and adding highlights to achieve the desired coliur/effect,

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  20. pretty damn creative,informative, inspiring, and makes my mouth water. For the most part very interesting. I can really sense the drive or the energy. Pretty cool.

  21. Hey Rhiannon,

    I’m the photo editior of Nido Magazine. Nido is a Magazine for young parents, coming out monthly in Germany and run by the STERN Magazine Group. In our June issue (coming out on May 30th) we would like to present your blog in our cooking rubric. We would like to use one of your pictures, could you please get in contact with me: mautner.katharina@nido.de thanks!

  22. Pingback: The Most Delicious Way to Be a Nerd: Make a Layer Cake Modeled after Jupiter [TUTORIAL] | DashBurst

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