DIY Cake Decorating: A Smiling Sun Gumpaste Cake Topper

This year my biggest girl had a “Fun in the Sun” birthday party. Because it was still 108 degrees on September 3rd. I mean really. Why do we live here again?!

I’ll try to leave the complaining at that. But it’s going to be tough.

Having a September birthday in AZ means always having one of two types of parties:

  1. An indoor party with a wildly exciting theme and activity to keep everyone engaged for two hours (no pressure or anything), or...
  2. An outdoor party with some awesome water activities or a pool.

We don’t have a pool... Water activities it is!

After the theme was chosen, I did what I always do; I plopped down on the couch with my Chromebook and a vanilla coffee and conducted  “research” on Pinterest. For about an hour. (Okay- two hours.) It’s rough I tell ya.

After seeing this sun and this cake, I asked Katie what she liked and didn’t like, and took notes. In the end, it looked a little different than I had planned, but overall I was pretty happy with the results:


So first, here’s a look at  the tools and supplies I used:


Now, let’s let’s talk about how to make it!


All the Details

Prep the fondant.

Put on those food safe gloves and rub a little shortening around on them to keep the gumpaste from sticking.


Take some gumpaste and fondant and mix them together. You’re doing this to help buy yourself a little time to work with the gumpaste before it starts hardening and drying. I like a ratio of about 4:1 gumpaste:fondant.


Knead them together like bread dough.


Portion out 5 different pieces for each of the colors you will use. White and blue will require the smallest amounts, then leave a medium sized amount for black, second largest portion for orange, and the largest amount is for yellow. Seal them all in plastic bags that have the air pressed out of them. (Air in the bag will start to dry out the gumpaste mixture.)


Make sure to seal up the rest of the gumpaste and fondant, too.


Add a dab of blue food coloring to one of the gumpaste portions, mix it well, and seal it in a bag.


Do the same for the orange.


And the yellow.


For the black, add some cocoa powder along with the black food coloring. It helps make a truer black.


For the rays of the sun.

Make sure your work surface is clean and dry.

Take about half of the yellow and roll it into a ball. (A better ball than you see here, I was just in a hurry to snap the pic.)


Use the small fondant roller to make an oval. Just like when rolling out pie dough, it helps to turn it about ¼ of a circle between each roll to keep it from sticking to the mat.


Let’s get check to make sure the top curve is right. Grab something that will be approximately the same size as the cake your topper will be sitting atop of. In this case that was a 6 inch styrofoam disc. Lay it on top to see that the top of the yellow oval comes to the edges of the styrofoam. You want the tips of the sun rays to be almost as wide as the diameter of your cake.


Use your small fondant cutter to trim the excess.


Clean it up with the flat tool by just gently pressing up against the rounded edge.


Hold the cake pan you plan to use up to the cake topper to make sure your scale is correct. If it is, press down gently so you have a cutting line.


Use your small fondant cutter along that line you just made.


Clean it up with the flat tool again.


Now take the triangle cookie cutter and make a cut out at the top center of the sun ray.


Right next to that, make another. Try to make sure you are close enough that the tips of the rays are perfect points, not small, flat tips.


Keep cutting out triangles…


Until you get to the bottom of one side of the sun. If you have a little leftover that’s okay; we’ll address that in a minute.


Now start cutting out triangles down the other side of the sun.


Keep going…


Until you get all the way down the side.


Now we can get rid of that funky leftover part on the first side by running our fondant cutter along the bottom.


Once again, clean it up with the flat tool.


Now we make the orange rays. Grab about the same amount of orange gumpaste.


Roll it out into an oval.


Gently lay it over the yellow rays to check shape and size. It should be slightly smaller but have the same curvature.


Crease along the bottom of the yellow rays.


Make sure your fondant cutter is clean of any yellow gumpaste.


Roll it along the bottom to cut off the excess.


Again, clean it up with the flat tool.


Next, gently press down a little (NOT all the way through) on the orange gumpaste, positioning the triangle cutter so that a yellow ray is centered in it.


Lift the orange gumpaste off of the yellow rays.


And go ahead a cut the triangle out.


Use the triangle to cut out the rays just as you did with the yellow gumpaste.


When both sides are complete, lay it on top of the yellow rays once more to check the spacing.


If one of the rays looks a little long or isn’t wide enough, gently mark it with the cutter.


Lift the orange piece off and back to the mat for cutting.


Now let’s “glue” the pieces together. Dip the brush in water.


And “paint” the water on the center of the yellow piece, but not the rays themselves.


Gently lay the orange piece on top, making sure to position the rays so that the orange are between the yellow, and smooth it out.


Slide toothpicks between the layers.


Form the center of the sun.

Take a slightly smaller piece of yellow gumpaste and roll it into a ball.


Roll it out until the top has the same curvature as the rays you made,


When you think it may be about the right size, lay it on top of the rays. You can gently nudge it in places that need adjusting.


Cut off the excess with the fondant cutter.


Make the face of the sun.

Let's start with the mouth. Take a small amount of black fondant (about ½ inch in diameter) and roll it into a ball.


Roll it into a long stick. You may need to use the flat tool to just nip off each of the ends so they look symmetrical.


Test fit it on the sun. You want to position it a little ways up from the bottom of the sun because the frosting on the cake will probably climb up the bottom edge of the sun when you put it on the cake.


Brush on the tiniest amount of water to the back of the mouth.


And put it right back into place. Try to hold it over the sun and check alignment before you drop it because the water will tend to make the black color transfer to the yellow and you don’t want smudge marks.


If you like a cartoon like smile, take two very small pieces of black fondant and roll the into small curved sticks.


Add a dab of water to the back sides.


And using the rounded edge of one of the tools, gently push them into place on the tips of the mouth piece.


You could also use this tool to help keep the shape of the piece if it starts to grow a mind of its own.


Time for the eyes; we’re getting so close to the end! Roll out a small amount of white gumpaste and cut two circles out with the smallest circle cutter.


Clean up the edges with the smallest roller cutter tools if needed.


Dab a little bit of water on the back sides.


And place them up near the top of the sun. YA know, where eyes would be. On a sun. Obviously.


Use the flat tool to gently push them down, securing them.


Take a small amount of the blue gumpaste and roll it out.


Take that small circle cutter and cut out a circle. Then use the flat tool to cut the circle into fourths.


Roll two of those fourths into balls.


Take the small ball tool and gently make divots for the blue eye pieces to rest in.


Dab a tiny bit of water in there.


One at a time, place the blue eye pieces in there and use the flat tool to secure and flatten them out.


Last step! Take a spec of black gumpaste and roll it into a ball.


Then cut it it half with the flat tool.


Roll both halves into balls.


Dab the smallest bit of water on the center of the blue parts of the eyes.


Set the black pieces in the center and flatten gently with the flat tool. Spend time making sure they are symmetrical because, even though it is a tiny detail, it can make the face look off and weird if they're not even. No pressure, or anything.


I like to give it a look from the side, too. Just to make sure they aren’t sticking out too far.


That’s it! You made a gumpaste cake topper! Wohoo!

Let’s talk about drying, storage, and assembly...

Drying: Drying is a little different for each unique topper. For this one I let it lay flat on it’s back for about 8-12 hours on a piece of parchment paper.

After that I flipped it over face down and let the backside harden up for about 6-8 hours.


Storage: To store the sun, I, very carefully, pushed the toothpicks into that styrofoam disc and stored it there until party day, which was less than a day away.


I put a large bowl over the top of it to keep it from drying out and cracking.

(I don’t know why I didn’t think to snap a pic of that, sorry.)


Assembly: On party day, I held the topper over the top of the cake, got the positioning correct, and gently pressed the toothpicks into the top of the cake. Think of these as pilot holes.


Then, for extra stability, I pushed two plastic drinking straws into place where I made the toothpick holes.


I cut off the extra form the top.


Then I made sure they were flat, and sitting just below the surface of the frosting so that the topper would sit flat on the cake.


Then I lined up the toothpicks inside of the straws and set the topper down.


And set the topper down, giving in a gently push to secure it.


I added a super simple paper banner with my big girl’s name, and, BAM! An awesome Fun in the Sun birthday cake!


I hope this tutorial inspires you to create your very own unique cake topper. And if it does please share it- I would love to see what you come up with! Tag me on Instagram, post to the Flickr group, or even post a pic in the comments!


Happy sculpting, friends. And whatever you make, make it yours!


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