When I first found out about cake decorating day, I knew I had to get in on the action. It's cake....how could I not? However, I already knew how to decorate a cake.
- Go to grocery store
- Buy tub of frosting
- Decorate cake
Ahhh...fondant cakes. Those awesomely decorated cakes with their smooth look and crafty designs. I have never worked with fondant...ever. What better way to play with cake than to try to decorate with fondant?!! So I went to the South Bay School of Cooking to learn how to make and decorate with fondant.
When I first walked in, Eva (our instructor) had set out powdered sugar and marshmallows. This is how I knew it was going to be a good day. Also...as you may be aware of my baking phobia...I was happy to see that Eva had already baked cakes and cupcakes for us to use. YAY!! All we had to do was "cook" our buttercream frosting and our fondant. Even BETTER day!!
|This is my classmate, Jocelyn!|
|Once again, the coffee is the dead giveaway as to which workstation is mine|
Isn't that the cutest little thing???
The sides of the cupcake were a little tricky to cover in buttercream, but they were great when it came time to apply the fondant. Fondant is a little intimidating at first - you have to make sure you roll out a piece big enough to cover the entire cake - top and sides - because once the fondant is on, you don't really have a lot of room to stretch it any more if it's too short - and once it's touched the buttercream, it's lot tougher to remove and try to re-roll. But once it's on and you kind of lightly tug and maneuver all of the air bubbles and creases out, it really is the coolest thing. It's so smooth to the touch...almost satin-like.
This would actually be a great way to get your kids involved, or have a cake decorating party! Make a bunch of cupcakes, some buttercream and fondant, and have everyone decorate their own little cakes. Throw in a little bit of wine...lots of sugar and laughs (no wine for the kids...not quite sure how you're going to peel them off the ceiling though)...everyone brings a pair of stretchy pants to change into at the end of the night. How fun would that be?! Hmm...may have to plan a party.....
Once our tester cakes were out of the way it was time to move on to the big boys!.
Same thing - slice the top for a flat surface...buttercream....chill.....roll out fondant...apply...decorate!
Don't you love how easy I make that sound? Well, it really kind of is. Once I got past the intimidation factor with the cupcakes, the larger cake was just as easy prep and decorate. And the decorating is truly the fun part - it's like Play-Doh day all over again!! How creative can you get? Colors, shapes, borders, flowers, ribbons....there are no limits with fondant! It was so much fun to just cut and play. It's almost meditative in a way. My creative energy was so focused on the cake - cutting out shapes, planning the design - I was completely absorbed in what I was doing. I thought of nothing else, I had no stress in my brain, and I lost all track of time. Oooo...how fun it would be to set up a therapeutic cake decorating business right next to a yoga studio? Buttercream Zen. Wonder who would have more clients....? (insert evil laugh here)
Sorry...it's the sugar talking.
|Jocelyn's cakes - I LOVE the purple and white together!|
|Eva's cupcake - something tells me she's had a bit of practice|
So there you have it...cake decorating with fondant! And not the yucky store bought stuff. REAL fondant that tastes really, REALLY good!!! So simple to make and use...but so elegant when done. So now it's your turn. Dust off the mixer, go clear out a grocery store of powdered sugar and have at it (the recipes are below).
Or...you can wait until I pull together a cake decorating party.
Stretchy pants highly recommended!!
|Yep, I made that flower....pretty cool, huh?|
Marshmallow Buttercream Frosting1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1- 7oz jar Marshmallow crème (not fluff!)
1- 16oz box of powdered sugar - sifted
1 tsp. almond extract or vanilla
Milk, Half & Half or Cream (1-2 tbsp.)
Using the whisk attachment on a mixer, cream the butter and marshmallow cream on medium until light and fluffy. Add in the almond extract or vanilla.
Add in the powdered sugar a little bit as a time on medium low speed.
If you are using the buttercream for cake frosting purposes, splash in a little milk, half &half or cream (whatever you have on hand) to thin it out just a touch. If you're using the buttercream frosting for piping or decorating purposes, leave thick.
Using an offset spatula, frost your cake or put the frosting into a piping bag to decorate with.
|Frosting is still slightly thick, but thin enough to spread|
Marshmallow Fondant1/2 cup shortening
1- 1lb bag miniature marshmallows
1 oz water
2- 16oz boxes powdered sugar - sifted (plus extra for rolling out)
1-2 tsp. vanilla or other flavoring
In a double-boiler, melt the shortening, marshmallows and water. Let everything dissolve completely stirring occasionally.
In a mixer, using the dough hook, put in one box of sifted powdered sugar. Add in the marshmallow mixture. If you want to flavor your fondant, now is the time. You can also add coloring if you want if you're just using one color for the entire block of fondant - otherwise, you'll color pieces at a time when done.
Add in the second box of sifted powdered sugar and let come together until nice and thick. You'll know it's ready when the whole thing starts to pull away from the sides - similar to bread dough.
|See how it's starting to thicken up in the bowl?|
|It should feel like Play-Doh|
For your cake, roll out the fondant on a piece of parchment paper dusted with powdered sugar (the powdered sugar will keep it from sticking to everything -feel free to be liberal with it, the fondant will be tacky). Make sure you roll out a piece big enough to cover the entire cake plus extra to hang over. You're going to lay the fondant on top of the cake, the extra will fall along the sides, then you'll smooth the sides with your hands, slightly stretching so there are no folds and smoothing the whole thing out with your hands. It's better to have a piece that's too big than too little.
When you're ready to move the fondant, wrap the fondant loosely around the rolling pin (like a shawl, you're placing the fondant around the rolling pin and it should wrap one, maybe one and a half times)...then eyeball it onto the cake at one end and unroll it across to the other...smooth the sides from the top down (use the shortening trick if your hands are sticky or a touch of powdered sugar). When you smooth the top and side out, you're removing air pockets on the cake and smoothing any possible wrinkles. Trim the excess from the bottom.
Voila! Now you can decorate!!!
Using any leftover fondant, color, roll out and cut as you wish. Roll out a long piece and wrap around the bottom to create a nice base border. Then use cookie cutters for designs! It's like playing with molding clay in kindergarten again. Have fun with it!!! To make your designs stick on the cake, melt a couple tablespoons of buttercream in a dish (microwave or stovetop), stir well and use as glue. Wrap any unused fondant in plastic wrap - place in plastic bag (squeeze all the air out) and store at room temperature; it'll keep for several weeks.
*Recipes courtesy of South Bay School of Cooking