When it comes to cooking in the kitchen, there's nothing more fun to make than cake! If you really want to step up the creativity and excitement, try your hand at making a cake with fondant. Whether you make it for a friend's birthday, or just make it for yourself, it's a learning experience that may become a new hobby.
After seeing my fare share of "Ace of Cakes" episodes a few years ago, and simultaneously drooling and aahing at Chef Duff's creations, I one day decided to take matters in my own hands. With a good friend's birthday just around the corner, I had the perfect excuse to try to make a fondant cake myself.
Let me preface this post with the fact that these images are old. i.e. before I knew how to use a camera outside of the Auto setting. That being said, I still think they illustrate how fun making a fondant cake can be.
For a fondant cake you'll need a good cake base recipe, a good buttercream frosting recipe, and of course, some fondant. You can make fondant at home with marshmallows or buy some pre-made at a bakery supply shop nearby. Food coloring is also a good purchase as you may want to create a few colors.
Before you secure all your supplies, you'll of course need a plan. I typically sketch out a few ideas before settling on something that seems feasible and fun. For your first fondant cake I would try to keep the design low and wide (nothing much higher than three layers) for stability.
After you have the plan and supplies, making a decorative fondant cake starts out like any other cake. You'll bake a few layers and whip up a batch of frosting. (Buttercream frosting seems to be the standard.) Once the cakes are set and cooled, simply stack the layers and frost in-between to build your form.
Now comes the fun part: sculpting with cake.
Use a serrated knife to shave the cake into your desired form. The cake illustrated here was a golf ball, so the cake was shaved in layers to make a smooth dome. You don't need to aim for perfection here as the frosting will help hide some mistakes.
Next up is the fondant. Work fondant with your hands until it becomes pliable, then roll out to about a 1/4" thick sheet. Carefully lay this over your cake and smooth with your hands or a fondant smoother.
For this cake I made small indentions with the rounded tip of a marker to suggest that it was indeed a golf ball. I also layered over a few sheets of fondant for the green — this was in the shape of the math symbol "pi" because my friend's birthday (3/14) is affectionately called Pi Day.
To finish the cake I purchased a few blocks of modeling chocolate and created a figurine in his likeness to place on top — a very rough likeness without a nose. Modeling chocolate is fun to use all in itself. If you have children get them to work together by making figures or buildings that can be made a part of your fondant cake design.
At the end, Voila! I had a not-so-shabby attempt at a fondant cake. Fun to share and fun to eat afterwards.
Try one for yourself in your kitchen this weekend!
(Images: Chris Perez)