Thanks to all of you who expressed support and encouragement when you commented on my post regarding making my own wedding cake. As a few mentioned (and I agree!), decorating fake tiers isn’t exactly the same as decorating a real cake, but I do think some skill is needed to make the real cake tier we are incorporating look the as close as possible to the fake tiers that are comprising the bulk of the cake.
With the wedding just over 2 months away, I thought it would be a good idea to try out the DIY cake decorating and see if we could produce a cake worthy of being the centerpiece of the wedding reception. My sister, Jessica, and I set out to do a cake trial over the weekend and, as promised, here is a blog post to tell you all about how it went.
First, we started by making the fondant. The recipe I used is called Marshmallow Fondant and you can read about it on this website. Basically, you take a whole bag of mini marshmallows and put them in a bowl, sprinkle them with a couple tablespoons of water, and melt it all in the microwave.
It depends on the microwave, but 30 seconds at a time, with a good stir in between, gets it good and melted in about a minute and a half. (Grease up your spoon with Crisco. It really helps!)
When it’s completely melted, stir in a 2 lb. bag of powdered sugar.
Once you start stirring, you realize that a spoon just isn’t cutting it. Time to get messy! Use Crisco to grease your counter and your hands. Don’t be stingy with the Crisco, and don’t forget to take off your ring!
Wax on! Wax off!
Dump the contents of the bowl on your counter and, working it like it’s bread dough, knead the mixture. It’s very sticky, even with your hands well-greased.
Don’t worry! It won’t look like this for long! Keep adding Crisco and water a little bit at a time until you get it to a moist, pliable consistency. I think pie dough is a good comparison.
After about 4 or 5 minutes of kneading, you get a nice, solid ball of fondant. We did the mixing process three times to get enough fondant to cover all of the cake tiers.
To be sure the fondant doesn’t dry out, give the ball a good coating of Crisco and cover it with plastic wrap until you are ready to roll it out.
While we were mixing the fondant, we were also baking the real cake layers. For the trial, we just used a box mix. I’ll probably do the same for the wedding cake since, like I said, Mr. DE and I will be the only ones eating it, and it will just be a small bite.
We also prepared the Styrofoam tiers. I purchased mine from Taylor Foam. To prep them, we just covered them completely with plastic wrap. This step isn’t really necessary, but since I don’t want to buy a new set of foam, I wanted to protect these ones and use them again.
Now, we are ready to roll. Just like your would for a pie crust, roll out the fondant. Use Crisco instead of flour to prevent sticking. You need a piece rolled out to accommodate all of the sides. We did a 6-inch tier first. It’s 4 inches high, so the fondant needed to be rolled 4 inches (side) + 6 inches (top) + 4 inches (other side) + 2 inches (extra for a buffer) = 16 inches. (16”³x16”³ because our layers are square.) We also rolled the fondant to a thickness of about 1/4”³.
This, unfortunately, is the part for which I don’t have pictures. We needed both sets of hands, so I had to put the camera down. Basically, we rolled the flattened fondant onto the rolling pin, unrolled it over the cake and began smoothing it down. When you smooth the sides of a square cake, you start with the corners and work the excess to the centers of each side. Then you gently lift and pull it down to get rid of the creases. We elevated the tier (on the Crisco can) to make it easier. Then, you trim off the excess.
We both own fondant smoothers, but we couldn’t find them, so we just smoothed with our hands. I like to use a little bit of cornstarch while smoothing because it helps your hands glide over the surface and it absorbs the grease of the Crisco, taking away the shine.
We repeated with the other two fake tiers (a 10”³ and a 12”³). The real tier is 8”³.
Stacking them up (while my nephews Trevor and Gavin played with the leftover fondant)
For the real tier, we baked two layers of an 8”³ square cake. We used a cake leveler to create flat edges on the tops of both and tried to get the combined height as close to 4”³ as possible, so it would match the height of the fake tiers. We spread buttercream frosting on one cake, and placed the other on top of it. Notice the cake board under the layer. It’s just a piece of sturdy cardboard with a wax coating. It’s very important to use a cake board! It’s a necessity for support, and without it, you won’t be able to pick up or stack the cake.
Then, we gave the whole thing a good coating of frosting, making it as smooth as possible.
Here’s Jess icing the entire tier.
Then, we covered it with fondant just as we did the others.
To decorate, I purchased some green satin ribbon, a variety of silk flowers, and a jar of pearl-colored, edible dragées. I love the look of a quilted pattern on fondant, so we wanted to try that technique. I also liked using the ribbon at the base of each tier because it gave it a luxe look and hid imperfections.
Wanna see the final product? Here it is:
All in all, I was impressed with the result. Considering this was the first time both my sister and I ever covered a square shape with fondant, I think we did pretty good. It was actually easier than I thought. The quilting pattern turned out great, and the ribbon really dressed it up. Sure, it’s not perfect, but I wouldn’t be embarrassed at all to set this baby out for all to see at the reception. Truth be told, I’m really proud of what we did, and it exceeded my expectations. It was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to putting this together again. This was one DIY project that I was a tad bit nervous about, hence the trial run, but my confidence is high for a successful cake in May.
Have any of your DIY projects exceeded your expectations?