I had done a post called Cake Making 101, and I promised there would be a follow up. Here it is. I was hired to make the following cake for a baby shower. Cakes are basically a hobby for me, but I do agree to do one for a friend every once in a while. The theme of the baby shower was “Cute as a Button.” Please see my cakes tab to discover more creations. Hopefully you will notice the progress I have made there. From the time I made this cake to all my future cakes, you should see an improvement. With practice and experience, I’m convinced I’ll continue to refine my craft.
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Tip #1: Buy the Right Fondant. If you have never attempted a fondant covered cake, I was going to break it down for you here. Hopefully, a basic tutorial will encourage you to try it. First of all, let me tell you the products I like. I have purchased my fondant from Wilton and from a baking supply warehouse. Wilton I personally do not like. I did like the wholesale fondant I bought in huge tubs, but my supplier stopped selling it.
The most success I have found lately on a retail level has been with Duff’s product line. It ends up being the same price as I was buying wholesale. It tastes more like marshmallows, and it has been a good product to work with. I also did the little converse shoes with Wilton’s gum paste. It was my first real success with gum paste, so I highly recommend it.
Tip #2: Don’t over knead the fondant. If you are using Duff’s fondant, follow microwave instructions on the back. You are then ready to knead the fondant. You want to be careful not to over-knead. It’s hard when you are adding color since you are trying to get a consistent color. I do use Wilton’s or AmeriColor gel food coloring, which has worked really well.
Tip #3: Wear disposable gloves when kneading in color. I wear disposable rubber gloves so that my hands don’t get stained. I also have a fondant mat so things don’t stick. You add a desired amount of the color you want and begin to knead it into the fondant.
Tip #4: Establish the amount of fondant needed. The amount of fondant needed will be based on the size of cake you are making. Here’s a simple table:
Tip #5: Choose a non-stick option for rolling out fondant. Next, I roll the fondant out. I have a great fondant rolling mat, which is non-stick and helps me have guidelines for the different sizes of cake circles. I use corn starch as my non-stick medium. I spread it lightly over the working surface as well as the top of the fondant as I roll it out. A lot of people on Cake Central who use powdered sugar (confectioners sugar). I have only used corn starch, but confectioners sugar is another option.
Tip #6: How to roll out fondant. You want to roll your fondant 1/4 inch thick to prevent tearing and cracking. I put two wooden dowels that are 1/4 inch thick on either side of my large fondant rolling pin and that helps me have a consistent thickness where I don’t have to eye ball or get out a ruler and measure constantly. You should roll out your fondant a bit, pick it up and rotate it and then keep going. This is so the fondant doesn’t stick to the rolling mat. Do this a few times until you reach your desired thickness. You will want to measure the diameter of your cake and add that to the 2x the height of the side to get the overall diameter of the fondant you need to roll out.
Tip #7: What to do with air bubbles. Because of the kneading, air bubbles may occur. If you find an air bubble, pop it with a pin and use two fingers in a circular motion as you press lightly until the fondant is laying smooth in that area.
Tip #8: Transferring fondant to the cake. Once the fondant is rolled to the desired size, you can roll the fondant back up onto your rolling pin and transfer it to your cake.
Tip #9: How to Smooth Fondant. This is the hardest part part that takes a lot of practice to get down. Once the fondant has been transferred to your cake, work quickly. It will drape naturally around the cake, but you will have to work with your hands and a fondant smoothing paddle to create the smooth appearance. You will want to lightly pull up on the edges – lifting and tucking around until it begins to lay flat against your cake. Continue to work around the edges until the whole cake is covered and the edges are smooth and laying flat against the cake. Continue to smooth with your cake paddle.
Tip #11: Watch a YouTube tutorial. There is a good YouTube video on the process. When she uses piping gel on the frosting layer, I actually spray it with a water spritzer. This helps the fondant adhere to the cake. I also use corn starch rather than powdered sugar. Overall, it is a very clear tutorial on covering a cake. Once it’s covered you can decorate.
Tip #12: Decorate. In the past, I have had decorating as my thing. The kids are down for a nap or at grandma’s house while I’m trying to bang out the cake. However, I’ve realized, as I’m being more intentional in my parenting, that this is an activity they can actually help me with and really enjoy. So, I am trying to embrace their help. They can help roll out the fondant using my favorite rolling pin for the smaller details. It has rubber guides you stick on the end to help create an even thickness while you are rolling out your fondant. The kids can help cut out the fondant strips using a straight edge and a ruler or a handy dandy fondant strip roller. They would dip the brush in a bit of water and paint the strips. Then, I would attach them to the cake. For the buttons, they cut out the circles using our circle cookie cutters. Then, I pushed the center of them down with a dowel and cut out the two holes using an decorating tip #2. They would paint the back of the buttons and help me put them on the the cake. They loved seeing the finished product after we had worked together.
The shoes on top of the cake are a different story. I did those with Gum Paste and followed a YouTube tutorial. I did these by myself.