I’m starting a new desserts feature where I highlight an insanely great dessert on our site.  The first dessert I’m featuring is from

Nicole W’s Under the Sea Tea Party

When I saw these cupcakes with their handmade tea sets on them I almost died.  And yes, the tea sets are all individually hand sculpted (out of gumpaste) and hand painted by Nicole.

I was so excited about the cupcakes and tea pot I had to contact Nicole (who is not a professional cake designer, by the way) to ask her how she did this incredible work.  Here’s what she said:

Once I had the vision for the tower of cupcakes topped with a teapot cake, I have to admit, I coached my daughter toward that theme.  Happily, it was a theme she really liked, anyway!

I spent a good chunk of one day forming the basic shapes of the tea sets out of gumpaste.  Four hours?  Five perhaps?  I tend to lose track of time when I dive into a project like this, but I know it took quite a while!

The basic shapes are really very easy, it’s a lot like being back in preschool playing with play-dough.  😉  I used the “wrong” end of cake decorating tips to cut out the circles for the plates and the miniature cake plates.

The end of a Sharpie pressed into the center of the plates made the perfect indentation.  The teacups were the hardest to come up with a satisfying technique.  I tried empty cups, but they all looked like the mug I’d made my mother when I was three.

Eventually, I just made gumpaste balls, flattened and flared and squished one side to make a flared teacup shape, then used a very sharp knife to score a circle where the “tea” should be.

They looked good after I formed the tea sets, but they really came to life when I hand-painted them the next day.

Again, it was hours of labor.  I used the tiniest, thinnest paintbrush I could find in the craft store–and when doing detail work like this, having a quality brush makes a big difference!

My “paint” was Americolor gel food coloring thinned with vodka.  The gold on the rims was gold luster dust mixed with vodka and painted on.

The cupcakes were all our favorite chocolate cake recipe.  It’s an old depression era recipe called Crazy Cake (also Wacky Cake and a couple other names).

It doesn’t have any eggs, butter, or milk in the recipe, but it’s so moist and deliciously chocolatey, and easier than a box mix!  The teapot cake was vanilla, just in case a guest wasn’t a fan of chocolate.

The teapot cake was pretty simple.  I used a Wilton Sports Ball pan to make the round shape, and baked off a little of the batter in a custard dish to get the small disk of cake for the lid.

The handle and spout were the only non-edible part of the cake, and were made with a lightweight foam-like modeling clay product that Crayola makes, available in any major craft store with all the other crayola stuff.

It’s lightweight enough that there’s no problem with the spout slowly obeying gravity and destroying the cake; that’s sometimes a problem if you make the spout and handle out of fondant or gumpaste.

Add a few fondant flowers, gumpaste pearl strings, and aerosol luster dust, and you have a teapot!

Thank you, Nicole, for sharing with us how you did all this!  Every time I look at the photos I’m still so blown away.

To learn more about Nicole, check out her blog, Tradewind Tiaras.  And to see more of her gorgeous cakes and parties, check out her Strawberry Picnic 1st Birthday and her Rainbow Unicorn 5th Birthday on our site.