Thursday, May 26, 2011

My First Fondant Covered Cake

I was going through my cake photos
the other day to submit some to
I was embarrassed to post mine for a very long time.
Cake Central is a great place to share and learn new techniques, recipes and cake building ideas. Everyone there is so generous with their knowledge and skills and are quick to answer any "dumb" questions from a newbie like myself.
I always ask since I'm a firm believer and promoter of the idea
that there are no "dumb" questions.
I decided to get my feet wet and bare my soul to the world of cake.
Kind of like getting the bats and skeletons out of the closet.
These were some bat cupcakes I made with fondant wings and ears.

Didn't know then
that the fondant
would "melt" back
into its original softness after I'd left it to dry for several days.
That's what happens when you put them on buttercream and bag them up all pretty like so you'll be all ready the next morning.
I learned to
either use chocolate
or gum paste
or a cookie next time.
Not a true skeleton from a closet but you get the idea.
This cake taught me that the bandages needed to be much thinner to get the best effect. Maybe next Halloween?

But that's one of the great things about Cake Central. A whole big bunch of bakers in all ranges of talent to share the do's and don'ts and the tried and true with. And if you're really lucky, you may also make a friend or two along the way.
I've been very lucky.
I have to say, stepping out into cyberspace and making that first contact at friendship was a little scary for me. It felt a little bit like what online dating must feel like.
Or cyber stalking. Putting details of more than you'd usually share with someone right away on the table at first contact. Not my style. But I'm REALLY glad I did.
I've met some amazing women that I may not have
been blessed with if I hadn't taken that first leap off the edge.
So back to the reason for this particular post.
The first fondant covered cake I ever tried.
I'd always wanted to duplicate the smooth covering that fondant is known for.
Simple. One cake and I was hooked.
Like Playdoh for girls and boys that are too old to buy it
in anything but a brown paper bag.

I used Wilton pre-made fondant, mostly because I had no idea that there were other choices at that time. How wonderful it was to learn that homemade fondant is not only easy, it tastes MUCH better and is so much less expensive than Wilton, even with Micheal's 40% off coupons. Can't tell you how much I purchased before I learned that secret! I've also tried some of the other commercial brands like Satin Ice and Fondex. No bargains to be had there. I still have a lot of fondant recipes to experiment with and compare but my Wilton fondant days are over.

And then I heard about modeling chocolate.
This was prior to the zillion baking shows currently available and countless tutorials on youtubeYou can learn just about anything there. Great source if you have time to watch. No matter what your interests, there's a youtube tutorial on it out there somewhere.
Or maybe you should make one yourself . . .

Can't wait to experiment more with it. I tried it a few years ago but was discouraged about the hardness it takes on before kneading.
It didn't stop me but I didn't get the rave flavor or texture reviews I'd hoped for by using chocolate instead of fondant. So now I have some newer modeling chocolate recipes to try. (Thanks Jessica!)And I've learned that the hardness is completely normal. Just keep on massaging until it becomes another tasty medium for cake play.

Here's a photo of my pre-fondant days.
This one won't be posted to Cake Central anytime soon if I have any pride left at all.
Guilty of gum ball abuse even way back then.
Since I'm self-taught, there is certainly much room for improvement in my piping and overall cake skills. I hope to take some classes on basic piping techniques. And flower making. And sculpting. And stacking. And on and on. So much to learn!
I've only watched a few demos. Plus every cake show on TV. Several times.
But I learn something new every time.

Most of my early cakes were based on ideas straight from Wilton yearbooks. Again, pre-Ace of Cakes, Cake Boss, Food Network Challenge, Amazing Cakes, Cupcake Wars, etc. And before there was a cupcake bakery in nearly every town. Even the books in the bookstores weren't all that great or they seemed much too difficult to tackle in those days. Little did do I know.

I've had the Cake Bible for many years, thanks to the kindness of a generous friend of a friend. (Thank you again Jackie!)
It is one of the only recipe books that I've ever sat down and read, cover to cover.
But I didn't do that until just this year.
My habit is to pick only those with colorful photos then flip through until I find what I'd like to try. One of my (many) goals is to make every recipe in the Cake Bible and taste first hand all the different types of cakes, fillings and frostings inside. Rose Levy Beranbaum's years of knowledge and techniques are so fully detailed. The science behind the why of baking is explained in terms even someone like myself can grasp.

If you'd like to see some of my other baking adventures,
you can check them out on Cake Central
Have fun experimenting!

1 comment:

Jessica said...

Love the gumball machine! It's so fun to look back and see how far we've come! Your first fondant cake looked WORLD's better than mine!! So fun!!!