This is my first fondant cake. I didn’t know much about fondant before I experimented with it for this cake. I was always interested in working with fondant, and after watching a few cake decoration competitions on Food Network I really had the urge to play around with it.
I bought ready-made fondant at a local crafting store since I didn’t know how to make a good fondant. I thought it would be best to work with something that was already made correctly!
I baked four cakes; two 10″ and two 6″. I put strawberry filling between each layer. I then frosted the cakes with buttercream. I divided the fondant into two parts, one for blue and one for green. I used gel food coloring to tint the fondant. To apply the color to the fondant I used several toothpicks.
I rolled the fondant out too thick the first time, and I’ve learned since that its best to have a thinner layer of fondant. After smoothing the fondant onto the cake and trimming all around the bottom to get rid of the extra, I gathered the scraps into a ball and rolled it out again for the top layer. Because this was only a two tier cake I didn’t put the smaller cake on a cake board, I just set it right on top of the larger cake.
After I rolled out the green tinted fondant, I used a sharp knife to trim out lily pads. I really didn’t have a clear idea of what the design for the cake was going to be. I was more interested in if I could get the fondant to work correctly, so I invented as I went along. I knew I wanted frogs and a spring feel to the cake as it was for celebrating several spring birthdays.
I looked up a royal icing recipe on the internet because I thought that would be the best icing to use as a border. I’ve since learned that buttercream is much easier to work with in making borders. The small flowers I placed on the lily pads are made with buttercream. I used a smaller sized rose tip and made a mix of rose/mum flowers to make it look like a lily flower.
While I was at the store getting fondant for my cake, I saw they had a gum paste mix that you just needed to add water to. I decided since I was playing around with fondant for the first time, I might as well try the gum paste too! It was very messy to mix up! My hands were gunked for a good five minutes after mixing.
Making the frogs took me a while, I played around a lot with the gum paste trying to get a feel for it and figuring out the best way to make a frog. In the end, I’m very happy with how they turned out! I wasn’t sure at first how I wanted to apply the pupil of the eye to the frogs. At first I was going to use black food coloring, but in the end I decided that indenting they eyes with a toothpick would give it a softer look. This worked out well, so I used the same technique for the rest of the details on the frogs.
In doing research on how to construct figures using gum paste, I had read that its possible to use dry spaghetti as a structure support. I tried this, and it did not work for me, the spaghetti absorbed moisture and broke apart, so in the end I broke up some toothpicks and used those instead (I made extra sure to tell everyone that there were toothpicks in the frogs! You don’t want any accidents!)
After applying the frogs to the top of the cake, I realized that the cake didn’t look quite finished. Something was missing. So I decided to add the butterflies. I tinted the remainder of the gum paste purple, yellow, and pink and traced out butterflies with knife. I took some floral wire I had laying around and wrapped it around a marker to create the springy look. After a fixing the butterflies to the wire and placing them in the cake I realized that I needed to let the butterflies dry and harden overnight so they wouldn’t fall apart.
I fiddled around with this cake for a long time, it was a very big learning experience. In the end I was very pleasantly surprised at how well everything worked out! I was lucky!
What I Learned: As noted above, I learned a lot of things! The biggest thing I learned was that its best to plan out how long you think each part of the cake will take you to make. Then, do what you can the day before to save yourself some time! For this cake I baked and decorated it all in one day. I was very tired in the end! I think it took me from six to seven hours to do all of it.
Something else I learned that is very important: most people don’t like the taste of store bought fondant. In fact, they thought it was gross! I’m sure part of their dislike was due to the fondant being a little too thick, but after tasting later cakes in which the fondant was not so thick, they still pulled the fondant of their pieces of cake after taking their first bite. Thankfully, I was able to find a recipe that works well and tastes great later on.
Sweet Advice: Don’t wait until they day before you need a cake before experimenting with something new. If your experiments fail you, you’ll be stuck with no cake and unhappy birthday people!