Thursday, February 17, 2011

the one with all the cake talk...

As are some cake decorating tips from little old me.  I in no way claim to be an expert at this sort of thing, I have learned by trial and error and I just enjoy baking and decorating (so there is my disclaimer).  Feel free to ask any questions on anything you want clarification on, I will try to put in as many details about products I use as I can, but I may miss something here or there, I would be happy to answer any questions you have! Without further ado...
I start with boxed cake mix.  You can of course make from scratch, I however save my time and energy for decorating and not making cake from scratch.  When I make a yellow cake, I like the butter cake mix, it just to me has a really good flavor.
Mix cake according to directions and pour into prepared pan.  I like to use the spray that has flour in it(there are several different brands they all work fine, I use whatever is cheapest).  It works great if you use generously on the pans, the cakes come right out and you don't have to worry about the cake cracking/breaking as you try to get them out of the pan.
Bake according to directions.  When they are finished baking, I like to let them sit in the pan for about 10 minutes before taking them out of the pan.  After they are removed from the pan, let them cool completely.
After the cakes have cooled completely you will need to level them out. 
Time to stack!  Normally I use a bigger plate, but it has cracked so I just used a regular plate, I think this cause the cake to be a little lopsided but it worked out OK.  Between the layers of cake you can put in any filling you like.  I've used pudding, frosting, fruit.  When using strawberries previously I would put a layer of cool whip then strawberries then cool whip, I was worried that the strawberries would make the cake soggy, but really it is up to you, the sky is the limit!  On this particular cake I used funfetti frosting.

After the cake is stacked it needs to be crumb coated/dirty iced.  It basically just keeps all the crumbs stuck to the cake so it doesn't get in the fondant, to fill in any of the gaps between the layers and to give the fondant something to stick to.  You want the cake to be covered but it doesn't need to be super thick.  (I just used store bought frosting)

After the cake is frosted, put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours to harden up the frosting.
Now it is time to start the decorating.  First thing you need to do is make fondant (you can buy fondant if you chose Michaels is a good place to get it).  This is the recipe I use. To cover this cake I used 24oz of marshmallows (so 1 1/2 times the recipe). 
Melt the marshmallows

The recipe says to mix in the powdered sugar by hand but I have found that you can use your mixer with the dough hook to do most of the messy mixing so that is what I do.
After it is mostly mixed (it takes a LOT of powdered sugar) you will need to knead the rest by hand. When kneading by hand you will need either solid shortening or non-stick spray to keep the fondant from sticking to your hands and the surface you're working on.
After it is kneaded you can add color.  I use food coloring gel (I got it at Michaels it is Wilton brand).  Knead the color into the fondant.
Roll out the fondant and then put on the cake.  Putting it on the cake is the trickiest part...a lot of this is trial and error but if you roll the sheet of fondant around the rolling pin you can sometimes transport the fondant to the cake relatively easily. 
After the cake is covered you can decorate it any way you want!  For this cake I was making a pond theme, so I used blue piping gel to make the pond and sculpted little frogs (not especially well) and lily pads from the leftover green fondant.  I used whole grain spaghetti with small pieces of brown fondant to make cattails and grey fondant to make some rocks.  Around the bottom of the cake I just colored some of the canned frosting green and piped on some grass.  (no need for piping bags or tips, just put the frosting in a ziplock and cut off one of the corners).  Here is the final product. 
I welcome any questions you have!  Hope this helps anyone who is looking for a few tips!  I will stress again I do not think I am an expert, by looking at the pictures you can see mistakes and flaws, I am just a girl who enjoys creating things.  Happy decorating!


Angie said...

I think you did an amazing job! It looks wonderful!

Abbie said...

Seriously? You made the most adorable pond cake ever! How I am going to compete with that?!!
So good to know that I am buy the fondant because I don't have a mixer like that. Sounds like Micheals is the place to go.
Thanks so much for doing this for me!
SO what did you do with the cake? Was it yummy? It looks really yummy!