Happy 2nd Anniversary to my food blog “Even A Brat Can Cook”. August is also the month for birthdays in my family which usually means a very planned deluxe cake for either my husband or daughter or occasionally both. This year the theme was Ballet as my daughter will be entering her first year of ballet lessons.
Unfortunately, the weather is ALWAYS warm on the August long weekend where we live and I often run into problems keeping cake icing whipped and fondant flat. I often learn a few tips and tricks with cakes each time I make them so I wanted to share this time in case someone else finds themselves facing similar problems. SO read on if you want to make some super awesome buttercream icing and/or homemade fondant.
You always have to have great icing. To me at least, I’m happy to scrape off fondant but it is really disappointing when you get to the middle of a cake and its sugar overload. I steer towards alternative options for cake icing and cupcake icing. Whipping cream icing is yummy and great for cupcakes but won’t always hold up if you have a multi-tiered cake. Cream cheese icing gives a nice creamy texture but isn’t the flavour you want for every cake. My daughter’s favourite fruit is strawberries so this year I opted for a strawberry buttercream filling and just a plain buttercream for the outside of the cake.
The first lesson I learned with this cake is that WHITE CHOCOLATE will fix separated icing. I have a tendency to make things ahead and my icing never looks as good and whipped as it does before I put it in the fridge. When you take your buttercream icing out of the fridge to decorate your cake, make sure you give it plenty of time to come back to room temperature and then whip it for a few minutes to see if it comes back to its original texture. If it doesn’t and still looks a bit separated (butter from sugar) then add two squares of melted white chocolate to the icing. It’s totally like magic. Trust me you’ll be glad to have this little technique it will come in handy.
For strawberry buttercream, you need to first make a strawberry puree. Basically take a small container of strawberries and blend until smooth and then strain out the seeds. Place the blended strawberries in a pot and reduce down to by at least half – for mine I used a small container of strawberries and ended up with 3/4 a cup of puree. Chill until after you have made your buttercream icing or freeze for later use.
Here is a simple flour based buttercream icing; it worked great for me: http://thetoughcookie.com/2015/06/07/how-to-make-flour-buttercream-or-ermine-buttercream-the-battle-of-the-buttercreams-2-0/
After your buttercream is whipped to perfection, add in 1/4 cup of your strawberry puree. For my cake, I doubled the buttercream icing recipe and added the strawberry puree to half of it. That gave me strawberry for the inside and white for the outside of the cake.
My father-in-law asked me to describe what fondant is exactly and the best description I could come up with was “edible playdough”. I have never actually used store-bought fondant so it might be better to handle than the homemade stuff. For this cake I used Marshmallow Fondant and added the pink food coloring to the melted marshmallows before adding the icing sugar so the color got more evenly distributed.
The second lesson I learned with this cake is that VEGETABLE SHORTENING works best as a non-stick surface for rolling fondant. After attempting to use icing sugar as base to roll out my fondant, I quickly learned it dries out the fondant, dulls the color and leaves powdery white on your decorations. My second attempt was using Tenderflake (it’s all I had) and covering the surface of my counter with it and my hands before attempting to make any shapes. The lard helps keep the fondant pliable and keep its color once it is put on the cake. You will have less chances of your fondant drying out and cracking when you use lard. Too much of a good thing though and you’ll find your fondant won’t keep its shape so use the lard sparingly.
Marshmallow Fondant: 4 Cups of marshmallows mixed with 2 tbsp of water and melted in the microwave. Mix the melted marshmallows until smooth and then add 4 cups of icing sugar. Mix with a spatula until the mixture comes together and then knead on greased counter top (with greased hands) until a soft smooth dough forms. *Dont get discouraged, your hands will get very sticky and it will seem like you failed but then wash your hands and keep kneading and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you make a nice ball of smooth fondant. Keeps well if you cover in plastic wrap and then in a ziplock and refrigerate. Make sure to take your fondant out of the fridge a half hour or so before you plan to use it.
Attaching the fondant to the cake was another learning curve but I quickly figured it out. The third lesson I learned with this cake is you can make your own fondant glue by dissolving a small ball of fondant in a tiny but of lukewarm water. I didn’t use anything special to attach the fondant decorations, just a cleaned kids paintbrush and homemade fondant glue.
That is all I have for this one, but feel free to ask any other questions you might have about my cake creation.
P.S. I MAY have used half a container of toothpicks on this project…