Monday, March 5, 2012

Fondant? Fondue!

For my brother in law's birthday, Bob and I decided to try our hand at making an extra special birthday cake. Using some cake decorating tools that Bob received for Christmas, and some fondant skills he picked up during his gingerbread house making days we got to work.

We started with a chocolate cake recipe from America's Test Kitchen, but instead of using 1 9x13 cake pan, we split the batter into 2 round cake pans. After letting them cool, I attempted to file off the uneven tops. I won't say no to extra cake pieces to snack on! I used a dark chocolate frosting recipe, also from America's Test Kitchen, for the filling in between the 2 cakes. I tried to make less than the recipe because I always end up with way too much filling/frosting/sauce. Unfortunately, I think cutting it to 1/4 the original might have been a little too light as I could have used a little more in the end!
Bob pulled out some fondant that he had purchased awhile back and started to roll it out. Uh oh, I think we have a problem. This is not going to cover the cake!
It was time for Plan B - did I mention we were supposed to leave for my sister's house in just over 1 hour? We consulted The Cake Boss. Well, at least the Buddy Valastro cookbook we had on hand. First off, we mixed up some buttercream in the mixer and I frosted the cake - or "dirty iced" it as Buddy says.
Bob found this recipe for a marshmallow based fondant after googling "homemade fondant."

1 lb mini-marshmallows
2 to 5 Tbs water
2 lbs powdered sugar
1/2 cup Crisco

Perfect-o. We threw in some color and before long had it stretched out to a 15" circle, more than big enough to drape over the cake.
Using the smoothing tool, Bob affixed the cover over the cake and cut it to shape with another pastry tool.

Next up, Bob used a little bit of water to rid the cake of the excess powdered sugar. With a clean look accomplished, we thought about how to elaborate on the cake. After adding some more blue to the leftover fondant, Bob cut a strip to act as a ribbon around the base of the cake (although I think it helped it resemble a blue "easy button" from Staples!). I used a couple star shaped cookie cutters for a simple top, and also attempted to pipe in a buttercream base using the pastry bag. This could have been cleaner, but I think our buttercream was a little too hard in the end - did not spread very easily.
The cake may have been finished, but the kitchen clean up was not. Oh boy. Why yes, that is my iPad thrown in with the rest of the mess on the counter!
End result? Fondant is not that scary, in fact the recipe was made in less than 10 minutes. What do you think? Are you willing to give fondant a try one of these days? Do the stars I added to the cake make it look a little like its for a 10 year old as opposed to a 34 year old? Just a little bit.

Happy Birthday Ike! 

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