Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More Fondant Practice: Blue Fish Cake

Delicious little cupcake for my afternoon snack

Before I show you my tacky fish cake, here's the fondant chrysanthemum in action on top of this vanilla chocolate cupcake. I put this under a cake dome and sure enough, the humidity caused the fondant to soften. I've seen it with my own eyes! Fondant doesn't harden permanently! Hence bad for decorations that need to hold their shape well.

Ooh. This is probably the tackiest looking cake I have decorated to date, and I didn't even do it on purpose to embarrass D at his lab party... it just didn't come out quite right...looked much better in my head. Actually, I was going to make stripes...did I mention it was a delicious cake inside?

Once it was deemed officially tacky, I practice my piping skills on it

Aside from colour choice being a little revolting, I once again had some major problems with fondant. Even though it was from a fresh package, the fondant seemed a little stiff after I added all the colouring, but I carried on, since it was still soft-ish. Some tiny cracks at the edges when I rolled it out to 1/4" thick. But, I draped it on, and...cracking!! At the top edges!! Ugh. Plus, the buttercream was squishing around like mad and I regretted having removed the cake from the fridge for so long before covering it with fondant. The result you see is my effort to patch the big holes with vibrant green fish and polka dots.

So, I then did what I usually do these days: whenever I have any question about something, I immediately go online to see what Google comes up with about the subject. And not surprisingly, I found lots of good info on the search term "my fondant is cracking". In hindsight, I should have done a little research before making the second cake. One particularly good website (though a little visually scattered) was Baking911, which I used before when reading up on cookie-making, which offered lots of suggestions for how to work with fondant. Cracking, I learned, results from several possibilities:

  • Fondant is rolled too thickly, so when you drape it on the weight of the excess is too heavy and begins to crack at the cake edge.
  • Fondant is too dry (in which case knead some shortening)
  • Fondant isn't kneaded well enough (it needs to be very malleable - when you pinch a ball of it between your fingers, it should squish easily without cracks)
There are probably a lot more reasons too, but this was a good starting point for someone like me. And I don't know why I didn't think of it, but the site suggested practicing on the backs of cake pans instead of baking endless cakes to cover with fondant:

Even a measuring cup can have a smooth, elegant fondant covering

Yes, yes, we all know: practice makes perfect - I did it another three times and got the cracking under control! Yippee!

The news of this week: I'm going back to work. No longer a woman of complete leisure. After an extended post-vacation holiday, the bakery finally called and so I'll be going in three days this week. I'll be working closer to home too, at one of their other locations, which will be nice since I can ride my bike. Otherwise, nothing too exciting. We take the car in tomorrow morning to have a rattle looked at, then I decorate my cake, and Thursday I'm working and going to jewelry class.


zarafa said...

sorry i forgot to get back to you! we're game for hanging out tomorrow so just let us know when to be there

CakeStar said...

I love the Cupcake! Great work. The fish cake looks great too... We are our own worst critic!
I used to live in Bethlehem/Allentown area. Best of luck in your move. I know where a good cake supply store is if you need it... Amy