Sweet Times: A competition and Tutorial in One

23 Feb

Good morning! Let’s take a minute and go back in time to 2010 in December. I had just started my Etsy shop leblossoms a couple of months earlier, and I was looking for events that would help me market my shop for little money. I came across a cake competition here in Denver that looked like it was something I could do. It was in January, and I thought I will check it out to see what it is all about. I grabbed my husband and we checked it out. I was sold, and completely overwhelmed of the possibilities I could create. Each year the Home and Garden Show has a theme, this past years was “under the sea”. The Sugar Art Show takes that theme and creates a special category with the theme. Entries must create something out of cake, styrofoam, or other mediums that follows the current show theme. How fun! Lots of options from different categories to enter into to different divisions (children, adult beginner, advanced, master, etc) to choose from. I decided I would enter next year! Fast forward to December 2011 and I was meticulously planning what I should make for the competition. I had so many ideas I didn’t know what category to choose from! Based on helpful advice, I decided to make something I had the time for. It made sense, that dramatic butterfly cake would have to wait for another time. That was the theme for this year’s Home and Garden Show, “butterfly migration”. Going a little off subject, I like organization. Well let’s be honest there is always have been one area/thing that is messy in my life. For instance in high school my math notebook looked like someone spilled a bunch of numbers on it, with no rhyme or reason to the placement of them. It made sense to me though and that is all that mattered. My messy part of life right now, is my pastry drawer in the kitchen. It is crazy how the mind works, and how one messy part keeps me sane. I think that I would explode if every part of my crazy life was organized, and that my friends would be very messy. No pun intended! The reason I brought up organization is that I used a very methodical reasoning to decide on what theme and category I was going to do. First I asked myself what season do I want it to be? Do I want it to be a wedding cake, baby shower, holiday cake, or extravagant cake (butterfly migration themed)? I decided I wanted it to be winter based, wedding cake, and in the tiered cake category. From there I decided on the flowers I wanted to make and other small details. It took me less than a month working a few hours a day on the cake to complete it. My original plan kept changing (or I like to say evolving) into the finished cake. It ended up being four tiers from the original design of three tiers. I wanted to share with you the steps I took to covering the cake and styrofoam with fondant. Step 1: Collect your base, whether it is stryofoam or real cake. If using the dummy styrofoam cakes make sure to file down the edge along the top. The sharp little guy can cut through your fondant if the fondant is rolled out too thin. Step 2: Give your fondant some love and knead it. Sometimes you might need to put a dusting of corn starch down to help it not stick to the work surface. It all depends on which fondant you are using, because some don’t require anything at all, and you might be drying it out by using the corn starch. I used Duff’s buttercream fondant in white from the local craft store. It was a lot more ivory than white, however it worked with my cake design. I will be writing a post just on different fondants and their pros and cons. With Duff’s fondant, I had to soften it before I could knead it. Step 3: Once you have it kneaded, you can start to roll it out. I found I needed to use corn starch to help it not stick to the counter. I rolled it out to be about quarter of an inch, and tried to get double the width of the cake I was covering. For a six inch cake I rolled it out to twelve inches wide. Now I know I did this a little backwards, usually you crumb coat the cake first. However, the fondant I was using was very pliable, and did not dry out as fast as Satin Ice would. (Again I will write about that in the “Picking a Fondant” post coming soon.) So if you use Satin Ice, I would crumb coat first and then put it in the fridge to harden up, then roll out the fondant. Stpe 4: Since this was for a competition cake that was not going to be eaten (very important here) I used Wilton’s buttercream recipe. It is a thick frosting that is not as “squishy” as other frosting’s I have used in the past. One thing fondant is famous for is showing any imperfections that is below it. That is why I wanted a thick, not really movable frosting to cover the dummy cakes with. I covered the cakes in a thin layer trying to cover the bumps of the styrofoam. I didn’t put the dummy styrofoam cakes in the fridge, however I did for my top tier when using real cake. Up next is the next steps I took to cover the cake as illustrated below! Step 5: Shows the entire dummy cake is covered in the thin layer of frosting. I say thin because if you put a lot of frosting it might make it bulgy, or leak out the bottom. Not very pretty or fun to clean up! Step 6: I have rolled out the fondant and have used a rolling pin to lift it onto the cake dummy. I used the fondant smoother on the top. Step 7: Then I started to smooth the sides with my hands. It definitely is something that should be practiced. This was only the third time I covered a cake in fondant, so I was pretty nervous. Once I worked the fondant to create smooth sides, being careful not to push down. I think that is where a lot of people see the tears on the top edge, when creating the force that is pulling the fondant down. I usually used a side to side motion, occasionally smoothing the fondant in a downward motion. Once smooth, I cut off the extra down to about 1/2 inch from the base of the cake. This also helps alleviate the weight of the fondant on the cake to prevent tears. Place the cake on a decorating stand, and use a knife to cut the excess fondant around the base. Now repeat steps one through seven for all of your cakes. Step 8: This is showing three of the finished tiers stacked. I heard that if you have a gap in between the two tiers you can use royal icing to fill it in. Creating a smooth finish to work with. However, since my fondant was off white I was not able to do that! Bummer I thought, so instead I used a ribbon of fondant with a design imprinted on it to cover the bottom tier cake. For the top tier that is yet to be constructed, I rolled out the fondant and “printed” a lace design onto it. I attached it to the fondant with some water. I made the roses, ranunculus, hydrangeas, eyelash orchids, winter berries, rose and hydrangea leaves, hydrangea buds, lily of the valley, and snowflakes out of gum paste. I also hand rolled the red pearls around the the bottom of the second tier. It was a learning experience for sure, and I appreciate the judges taking the time to let me know what they liked and didn’t like. Here is the finished cake, let me know what you think in the comments! Bottom half of the cake, showing the stencil work I did on the bottom tier. Top tier with its lace details, flowers, and sparkly sugar coating! Showing a little bit of the back of the cake. I was awarded 2nd Place for my division (adult intermediate) and for the tiered cakes category I was entered in! An awesome feeling for sure! I really can’t wait until next year, as I already started planning my cakes (That is right, I am planning on doing two cakes next year!). Next up, a post on “Picking a Fondant” plus pros and cons for them! My opinion of course, and I am not getting compensated for the review of the products.

Related Posts:

No comments yet

Leave a Reply