My best effort so far, what do you think?
Hooray, I had absolutely no problems with the fondant today! It totally behaved itself, and I think I owe it to those pointers I got from Baking911. I made sure the cake was completely even and didn't put too much buttercream on the outside (actually, it was more of just a crumb coat). Perhaps it was the fondant smoothing tool I dug out of my cake decorating box? It seemed to ease the fondant into place quite well. The whole thing was over in less than 2 minutes, no cracks, no pleats, no tears, just a shiny... smooth... flawless... marshmallow-looking surface! Happy sigh of relief. Notice how I avoided garish colours today? Yes, I tried. It's more of a garden party kind of cake, I think. Maybe for a tea party of some sort. Speaking of tea parties, I've been curious about making petit fours after seeing them here. Don't they look super cute and delicious?
Getting back to the topic at hand, here's how I did it, if you want to try this at home: once the cake is covered in fondant, place a smaller circle on top and using a toothpick, lightly mark its edge to create a guide for your stripes:
Then, mix your colour choice in fondant for stripes (about a baseball-sized lump for this 8" cake). Measure from the guide edge to the base of the cake (mine was 4.5"). Cut out your 1" wide strips with a ruler (I used this quilting ruler thing - don't forget to wash it first) and pizza cutter:
Wet the back of the fondant strip with a little bit of water. Don't get it too drippy, or it'll go sliding everywhere and the colours will bleed. With curved edge facing up, paste the strip from bottom working up. Use a right angled object to make sure the stripe is completely straight (I suppose you can skip this, but don't blame me if your stripes don't line up when you get around the whole cake):
Work your way around, leaving 1" spaces between stripes, until the cake is 3/4 covered. Measure again and make sure you have enough space and enough strips to cover this last quarter properly - I had to cheat and cut the last strip about 1.2" and spaced it 1.3". You could probably measure more precisely, but I just eyeballed it (I'm a lazy perfectionist).
That's pretty much it! I piped the bottom edge and inner circle edge with buttercream, and glued on the fondant daisies I made in my last post. Really I should have used gumpaste, but I was too lazy (there's that word again) to make new flowers. According to several book and internet sources, a fondant cake can be stored in a covered box in the coolest spot in your house, and it should keep about 2 days with non-perishable fillings (please correct me if I'm wrong, because I don't want to get blamed for anyone eating mouldy cake). If you're traveling with it, well, good luck.
I drove this thing to the hospice center in the late afternoon, in the 95 degree heat, with the air conditioning on full blast. Hopefully the birthday girl enjoys it! Incidentally, I ran into the volunteer coordinator, who asked me if I wanted to help teach the next volunteer cake decorating class, so of course I said yes, I would love to!
There's another birthday cake I'm scheduled for next week, so expect to see more fondant. Hopefully I'll also have some knitting to blog about soon too!