Forget delicate frosting rosettes, or "birthday" spelled out in neat cursive—some cakes are true feats of engineering. Take, for example, Rhiannon of Cakecrumbs’ epic Jupiter and Earth cakes, made up of concentric spheres of mudcake, almond buttercake, and vanilla madeira sponge. We may never be able to set foot on the flaming gas giant that’s over twice the mass of all the other planets in the solar system, but now we can eat it. Sort of.
Rhiannon’s planet cakes began when she made a version of Earth for her sister, who was working toward an education degree and wanted to teach geological science to a class of elementary school kids. Eventually, the cake decorator came up with a way to bake the earth’s core, mantle, and crust into one another. The result became so popular online that she decided to take on another challenge: Jupiter.
"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," Rhiannon wrote on her blog. "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."
Like Jupiter, Rhiannon’s cake has detailed atmospheric bands. Unlike Jupiter, the bands are painted on with ivory marshmallow fondant—a process that took a total of eight hours. The cake also features Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, a swirling cyclone three times the size of Earth which inspired Rhiannon to recreate the planet in the first place:
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.
There’s still much to be learned about what’s inside Jupiter, which is why in 2011, NASA sent a probe named Juno to go explore it. (Juno is set to arrive there in 2016.) But for the exceptionally geeky and productive on Earth, Rhiannon has created a demo (see above) on how to bake the planet’s core (cake) into several layers of metallic, liquid, and gaseous hydrogen (cake, cake, and icing). Be warned that this is no easy task—it requires precision and a level to get the measurements just right.