A friend of mine got married on Sunday, and as soon as I heard she was engaged, I knew I wanted to do her cupcakes for her. She and I share a love of GOOD cupcakes, and we’re both really picky about flavours and combinations, and finding just the right cupcakes. I offered to do them for her as a token of our friendship, and she accepted! With a request to also do a cutting cake – no problem, I had to do one for a wedding once already, so I had all the supplies for it already.
Except she wanted her cake covered in – *gasp!* – fondant! Which is fine, except that I had NEVER, EVER worked with fondant before and was PETRIFIED of doing it. Of course, never one to pass up a challenge, I said I would do it and started planning.
Fortunately she wanted it really simple – a vanilla cake with strawberries, covered in ivory fondant with a ribbon. No problem, right? The vanilla cake recipe I used was one from Sweetapolita – she’s done a lot of research and testing to find a really good, light and fluffy vanilla cake. While vanilla is definitely not my favourite, this one WAS really good, and pretty light for a vanilla cake. I made a buttercream to go between the layers, and laid down fresh strawberries inside a border of icing – oh they were soooooooo yummy!
Vanilla Strawberry Wedding Cake
The cupcakes were also vanilla. I used the Ultimate Vanilla Cupcake recipe from The Cupcake Project – THE best vanilla cupcakes I have ever been able to find, and I’ve tried a ton! Topped with a basic buttercream and my gum paste rolled roses (details coming in another post!).
Well, the cake SHOULD have been no problem, but when you leave your very first shot at covering a cake in fondant until the NIGHT BEFORE the event, then problems arise.
I purchased the fondant on recommendation from a friend – having wanted to make my own, she said that if it’s the first time, you should just use store-bought until you get more familiar with it. That’s Tip #1 by the way, in case you’ve never used fondant before, BUY STORE BOUGHT until you get used to the feel!
I’d made two cakes (technically five individual 6 x 3 inch layers – one was died for a gender reveal cake) and what I SHOULD have done was practiced on the OTHER cake – not on the wedding cake. There’s Tip #2 – ALWAYS PRACTICE FIRST – but not on the actual cake.
The kneading and rolling went as planned – I purchased a Wilton rolling mat with neat little measurements to determine how big to make my fondant (you can use this chart to determine how much fondant to use for your cake size). My cake was 4 inches high, so I had to multiply that by two and add six. IE 6″ round + (4″ high x 2) = 14. And there’s where my next problem came in. Math. Hence the reasons for my mistakes that came next (I should have rolled slightly bigger).
Picking up the mat and using it to transfer the fondant onto the cake was also easy. I would HIGHLY recommend buying one of these mats – I got it at Michaels with a 40% off coupon, it was around $8 CDN. It is WAY easier to pick up and transfer fondant with this mat than rolled onto a rolling pin.
Once I had it lined up. I called my hubby up to help me (this is about midnight now) but got impatient so I did it myself. And it was just fine :0) Here’s where Tip #4 comes in – Always research more than one way of rolling and placing fondant.
The tutorial I used was really good, but I SHOULD have a) practiced and b) looked at other ways of placing fondant. What happened is partly because my fondant was too small, and partly because of the way I placed it on the cake.
One way to place fondant is on it’s cake plate, elevated on a bowl. That’s the way this tutorial suggested (it’s still a really good tutorial, I suggest watching it, but others also).
However, when I did the second cake, with this tutorial, I found I had more success with rolling a much bigger piece of fondant, and simply covering the cake right on the counter top.
Tip #5 – Did I mention practicing first? And PLEASE watch this tutorial from The Sweet Life – it is really REALLY good!
Tip #6 – buy a smoother, or fill a nylon sock with icing sugar, and keep lots of shortening on hand. No matter how hard you try, your fondant MIGHT crack. If that happens, rub some shortening into the crack and it should at least disguise it, if not help bring it back together.
My hubby has decorated a few cakes in his past, and he googled my one problem immediately – even though I “thought” I did everything right, I had these HUGE ruffles at the bottom of my cake, which created giant folds. I got frustrated and threw the whole thing in the box in the fridge instead of listening to his advice on how to fix it.
Low and behold when I had a similar problem on my “test” cake, I used the method he suggested – and it worked.
The idea is to cut the overlap, so instead of overlapping, you are able to place the pieces side by side and smooth them together with shortening.
Not perfect, but better than my gigantic overlap on the first cake. Which we were able to fix/hide with a wider ribbon and some great rose placement.
In all, it was a fantastic learning experience, and I’m truly grateful to the bride, my friend, for asking me to make a fondant covered cake. I found out just how highly addictive working with fondant is, and I can’t wait until the next time I get to use it!
Except after two weddings in a row, my hubby is pretty reluctant to let me do another.
Pretty PLEASE can I do some more?! ;0)
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