Fondant for the First Time (and Aivi’s Cakes)

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For more about the recipes we made for the cakes, check out my posts:

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

White Cake with Lemon-Lime Curd

Chocolate Cake with Whipped Fudge Filling

Sometimes ideas and projects grow, and grow, and grow. What started out as me volunteering to make some cake for a friend’s birthday quickly turned into a two-person project that took a minimum of 10 hours and involved a tiered cake, two different sized cupcakes, and my first time working with fondant.

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See, I hate fondant. I think it tastes awful (sorry to the fondant lovers). I’ve had my fair share of fondant from professionally made cakes and it always ends up being something I scrape from my cake. Sure it looks nice, but most people I know don’t care for the taste and considering it’s something that’s pretty labor intensive, it just doesn’t seem worth it to me.

So when the idea of using fondant came up I was very dubious. At the very least, I thought maybe we should practice with fondant first since I’ve heard mixed results on working with it. Some say it’s easy, some say it’s difficult. In the end we threw caution to the wind and started working with fondant a mere 8 hours before a milestone birthday event began. Are we crazy? Maybe.

I think I’ll start off by saying we pretty much only made three cakes. I’ve made a fair amount of cakes and making one isn’t that difficult, even if it has a curd or custard filling or is in layer form or cupcake form. One might think that making three cakes for an event is only three times the work. Eh, not so much. While far from impossible, or even difficult, the amount of work was way more than I thought it would be. Working in a small kitchen with limited supplies resulted in a lot of dish washing. Then when you add in fondant, you’re destined to spend a fair amount of time in the kitchen.

Before we even started baking, we went to the store to buy our ingredients. Somehow we miscalculated and overbought almost everything. For some reason I was positive we would need 6 pounds of butter, two boxes of cake flour (in addition to the box I already had), 10 pounds of powdered sugar, and 10 pounds of granulated sugar. At the very least I was right that we needed 2-dozen eggs.

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While baked goods in general are always better the day they’re made, we spread out the process over the course of two days. On the evening of day one we made lemon-lime curd, vanilla custard, white cake, and chocolate cake (layer and mini-cupcake). We let the curd and custard cool in the fridge that night and when the cakes had completely cooled, triple wrapped them in plastic wrap. Thankfully the cakes were still moist and fresh tasting the next evening. On day two we baked yellow cupcakes for the Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes, made all of the frostings, decorated, and colored/rolled out fondant.

Baking the cakes and preparing the frostings and fillings was pretty straightforward. The fondant itself wasn’t even that difficult, more time-consuming. Not wanting to spend too much on fondant supplies, we were pretty minimal in what we bought (simply some cut-outs for decoration) and otherwise used items I already had for the fondant and cake decorating.

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To roll out the fondant we used a silicon mat and a rolling pin (although for the base layer of the cake I just lightly sprinkled the counter with powdered sugar as the mat wasn’t big enough). If I do fondant again I might consider getting a fondant-specific rolling pin as the one I had did only an okay job. A bench scraper did a nice job of smoothing out the fondant (I’m not sure a fondant smoother is that necessary) and we used various cutouts and a small knife to make the decorations. If you’re using fondant for the first time I highly recommend a silicon mat. I thought it did a great job of preventing the fondant from sticking.

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A few observations and things I’ll do differently next time:

  1. You definitely need to have a fridge stocked with beer or alcohol of some kind to enjoy while working in the kitchen. Two six-packs were nowhere near enough.
  2. A long music playlist is imperative (preferably something with “Blurred Lines” and plenty of Macklemore and Adele).
  3. Fondant is a pain, but not as bad as I thought.
  4. Wear comfy shoes. I’m used to sitting at a desk, so being on my feet for a whole day wasn’t something I was used to.
  5. Be sure you have something to eat. After having a waffle for breakfast I didn’t eat until 7:30 pm. I was getting hangry by then.
  6. Can I hire someone to wash dishes? I didn’t mind washing out my stand mixer bowl the first 15 times, it was the 16th time when it started to get to me.
  7. Disposable gloves would have been nice for coloring the fondant. That gel did a nice job of coloring hands red.
  8. A fondant roller would be quite useful.

Seeing as this was the first time either of us used fondant I’m pretty pleased with the results. Far from perfect, but overall I was pleased, especially since the kitchen I cook and bake in is tiny and has about half a square foot of counter space…

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