Adventures in Fondant- Part 1

My wonderful sister in law Lisa had her 30th birthday back in August.  I had seen a rather special looking cake at Zoe Bakes. Lisa can always find a really thoughtful gift and puts so much effort into our family celebrations.  I wanted to do something a bit special so I offered to make her birthday cake.  I showed her the picture of Claudia’s Cake and she really liked it except, could I make it purple?

Now I didn’t really realise at the time how big Lisa planned her celebrations to be.  She had organised a costume party with the theme of childhood fantasy- for about a hundred guests.

I had happily made cakes for 20 or so before.  However, I had never attempted a tiered cake or had used fondant.  I had just returned from overseas and my 2nd oven had been delivered.  Within a fortnight I would go back to being the frustrated owner of a broken oven.  Only one function of my 10 function oven kind of worked and that was the fan forced from the back of the oven. Perfect for crisping up a roast pork but not much good for baking.

So I had some challenges and despite very good intentions to practice and get things done early, it just wasn’t happening that way.

This photo was me getting an idea of how the cakes would stack up as it were.

I did practice with some fondant on the back of cake tins.  I wanted to try using the styrofoam dummy cake but I just wasn’t having luck carving shapes- and I was spending all my spare time calling the call centre to try and get something done about my oven.

Lisa and I discussed flavours for the cakes.  She really liked the orange cake I made for Patricks birthday cake.  So that was the top 8 inch tier.  And I rather bravely decided to make the Devils Food from Zoe Bakes.  Why brave you may ask?  Well I was using it as my bottom 10 inch tier and I had never, ever tasted it before (my planned trials not taking place due to oven doubling as paperweight).  However, Zoe had never lead me astray and I had faith.   This cake is lovely.  The healthy amount of coffee just makes the chocolate jump out and bump you on the nose.  I also used dark rum which shone through as complex caramel.

After doing a fair amount of reading of using fondant over different cake coverings in humid climes I decided not to use buttercream but ganache.  The ratio I used for the ganache (both dark and white) was 3 parts chocolate to 1 part cream.  I stumbled on to a fantastic discussion board discussing lumpy ganache which allayed some of my post traumatic stress disorder from my white chocolate ganache from the Daring Bakers Opera Cake challenge.  Essentially the trick is to use a stick mixer to blend the ganache.  Complete happiness from me.  Silky smooth results, limited effort- How good is that!

Each cake (2 layers each) came to 4 inches.  I baked them a couple of days before and double wrapped them in plastic wrap and then doubled wrapped them in foil and then froze them.

Once ganached and filled they were just under 4 1/2 inches tall each.  I did fill the devils food with some creme de menthe mouselline buttercream (so good, and brought balance to what was a fairly chocolate intensive cake-not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Liam was very keen to assist with the crumb coat.  Mostly because he has learned from experience by now he gets to finish the crumb infected ganache once he is done!

I ganached the cakes the day before the party and coloured the fondant.  For 2 kilograms of fondant I used and entire half size Wiltons paste colour (Enchanted Night Sky) I also used a fair amount of black paste colour because I just wasn’t getting purple enough.  The only fondant available (non-commercially) in Darwin is 500g packs of white.  I see that there are ready to roll fondants available in bold colours and trust me, it would probably be worth the shipping.  I had some gloves set aside for the mixing in of the colour, however, being Darwin, the heat caramalised the latex and the gloves shredded.

The funny side of this is I had to go to an industry function that night- with seriously purple hands.  They even clashed with my dress.  For the record from left to right Gemma, Katie, Andrea, Lisa and Sarah.

I had read a whole bunch of things about fondant not liking to be chilled.  There is no way I could leave a cake in Darwin to the elements for an length of time.  That meant that even though I had to work until 4 and the party started at 5:30 I had to cover the cake on the day, after work.

For the fondant stage of the cake my good husband suggested that I do it at the display house- no helpful children going nuts because you won’t let them eat the cake.  So I packed up a rather big box of all sorts of things and headed off.

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment on decorating the cakes.

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