Thursday, May 2, 2013

How to Make an AT-AT Cake

On the ice planet Hoth,
the Galactic Empire used manned AT-AT walkers
 to crush the Rebel Alliance's Echo Base.
A version of this article originally appeared on in the Holidays & Celebrations section.

All Terrain Armored Transport – or "AT-AT" – walkers are massive tanks in the fictional universe of the Star Wars series of science fiction movies. They resemble giant, robotic beasts because they have four legs and an articulated cockpit that extends from the front of the body of the tank like a quadruped's head. The challenge in making an AT-AT cake is supporting the heavy torso on the creature's slender legs, and creating a head light enough to extend from the torso without falling off. Use cake pillars and make a head out of paper and cardboard to solve these structural problems.

Things You'll Need

  • 2 loaf pans
  • Corrugated cardboard
  • Craft knife
  • Glue
  • 2 C-clamps
  • Aluminum foil
  • Cardboard toilet paper roll
  • Construction paper
  • Tape
  • 2 craft sticks
  • 2 portions cake batter for a two-layer cake
  • 3 portions white frosting for a two-layer cake
  • 10-by-14 baking pan, or similar size
  • Black icing coloring
  • Icing bag
  • #3 round icing tip
  • 5- or 7-inch cake pillars, 4


  1. Make the base for the AT-AT's torso. Trace the bottom of a loaf pan onto corrugated cardboard. Cut out the shape with a craft knife. Repeat with a second piece of cardboard. Glue the two pieces together. Clamp with two C-clamps until dry according to the glue manufacturer's instructions. Remove the clamps. Wrap the base in aluminum foil.
  2. Prepare two portions of cake batter for a two-layer cake according to the recipe or mix of your choice. Bake one portion in a 10-by-14 or similar-sized baking pan. Divide the second portion between two loaf pans.
  3. Frost the sheet cake -- the cake baked in the large, shallow pan -- with white frosting. This is the base of the cake and represents the snowy fields of the plant Hoth, where the Empire deployed AT-AT walkers in the movie "The Empire Strikes Back."
  4. Color two portions of frosting for a two-layer cake metallic gray. Stir a tiny portion of black icing coloring into white frosting. Mix thoroughly before adding more. Add coloring until you've attained the desired shade.
  5. Frost the loaf cakes as a two-layer cake, with the larger sides facing inward, using the foil-covered cardboard as the cake base. This is the AT-AT's torso.
  6. Cut and tape construction paper into an oblong box about four inches square on the small sides and 4-by-7 inches on the long sides. The exact measurements aren't important. This is the head of the AT-AT. Cut an opening into one of the small sides. Insert a toilet paper roll to a depth of about two inches and fasten it securely with tape. This is the neck. Tape craft sticks to the front of the head so they stick out like tusks.
  7. Frost the AT-AT head and tusks with gray frosting. Insert the toilet paper roll into one of the small sides of the frosted torso to a depth of about two inches. Frost the exposed length of toilet paper roll "neck."
  8. Cut four holes in the sheet cake the diameter of the end of a cake pillar. Position the holes so the pillars can support the torso. Insert the cake pillars in the holes. Frost the pillars with gray frosting. These are the AT-AT legs.
  9. Carefully place the AT-AT torso and head assembly atop the legs. Get a friend to keep the legs stable while you position the torso.
  10. Fit a decorating bag with a round tip and fill with gray frosting. Pipe short, straight lines, squares, rectangles and dots all over the torso and head of the AT-AT. These are bolts and controls and other robotic features. Pipe rectangles on the head to form the cockpit's eye-like windows.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may cut a piece of wood to size instead of using cardboard for the torso base.
  • You may buy a sheet cake frosted white instead of baking the snow field base yourself.
  • Buy cake pillars at craft or baking supply stores


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