I Made A Fondant Cake And It Wasn’t A Total Bust

First off, who’s the nut who assigned me all these wacky baking projects anyway?

Oh. Right. Me. Fine then.

Here’s my IRL confession: I actually like fondant. I think it makes cakes look pretty and, I dunno, the texture is cool. Overtop buttercream and served with a lovely milky coffee, it’s pretty great to eat.

I’ve always wanted to try making a cake with fondant, and because I hate myself, I wanted to make sure that cake was made with homemadegross-chemical-free fondant. So of course 30 Before 30 was the place to put it.

Here’s the thing: I didn’t actually know what I was getting into with the fondant. Would it be incredibly tricky, like last month’s macarons? Would the ingredients be entirely wackadoo?

Yes and no. No to the “entirely” part of the wackadoo ingredient equation: there were a few very special ingredients I had to pick up, according to the rolled fondant recipe I picked, but that just took a trip to the baking aisle of Michael’s, where — God bless Wilton — my bases were covered on the glycerin/glucose front. Additional ingredients: shortening, gelatin*, food coloring, and an embarrassing amount of  powdered sugar.

Once I’d rounded up all the ingredients, it was time to get cookin’. The good news was, the assembly of the fondant didn’t look like it was going to be much of a pain at all. Sure, it required a double boiler, but that I had. I am, after all, a legit wannabe home cook.

For the most part, the fondant came together beautifully. I used Wilton’s recipe, which has a skill level of “none.” That was encouraging. I did the double-boiler thing, let it cool, fretted a tiny bit about the fact that my coloring wasn’t “icing color,” fretted a tiny bit more at the skin that developed on top of the mix, and then kneaded in my powdered sugar.

At first, it was a mess. I remembered my hatred for kneading bread dough. I scraped off my hands and pressed on.

And then?

Guys, then I had fondant. Easy as that. After enough sugar, I came out with a slightly sticky product that really did knead like dough. I’d conquered fondant.

The Except

Except. I didn’t have a cake to put that fondant on. So I stuck my beautiful flesh-colored** fondant in the fridge for a week until I had time to make an actual cake and buttercream to drape it over.

The cake I chose to make for the fondant was the Original White Almond Sour Cream Cake, which didn’t require too much work outside of adding a few extra things to a Betty Crocker boxed mix. I thought I’d be golden. I mixed it up, poured it in my cake pans, let it bake, took it out of the oven, let it cool, prepared for the de-panning…

And ran into trouble.

Guys, this is why I hate making cakes. I alllllways forget, and then I make another cake, and it happens again: the cake tears apart when I take it out of the pan. Part of the bottom separates from the pan, and I’m left with an ugly mess.

Hmm. I’m thinking this should be a 40 Before 40 item. There’s got to be an easy fix.

Nevermind that, though. I wasn’t going to be defeated. I pasted the broken-off pieces back on as best I could with the pumpkin spice buttercream I’d assembled and got to work rolling out the fondant as I’d seen in a Wilton YouTube tutorial.

It should be noted: at this point, I’d basically abandoned the project to imperfection. It was 9 p.m. on a Friday night, I was not enjoying my self-imposed watch of Seven Year Itch (seriously, not worth it guys), my cake was a mess, and now I was realizing that I really needed to be somewhat of a pro to get this whole fondant thing right. Like, with a cake spinner thing and a special fondant leveler and everything. I had none of those supplies. So I pressed on. Albeit grouchily.

cracked-cakeThe end result: judge for yourself, but it didn’t come out as poorly as I’d imagined it was going to. I was honestly a little bit impressed with myself.

The Lesson Learned

That said, if there’s one thing I would do differently next time (listen to me, “next time”) it would be to roll out that fondant a little more. I gave up early and just plunked it on the cake before it was really warmed up from the fridge, which meant that it cracked when I tried to adjust the sides down. Working with the lettering (I kneaded in more coloring to the remaining fondant to get the letters darker, by the way), I was able to really get the fondant to the correct temperature, and it was a whole lot more pliable and easy to work with.

Anyway, you live, you learn. And heck if I didn’t make a cake with homemade fondant.

eating-da-cake*Writing all this out, I wonder why I didn’t think to use flavored gelatin. Right, because I do as I’m told without questioning. But wouldn’t it be fun to have a strawberry-flavored fondant or something? Next time, folks. Next time.

**It was supposed to be orange. Tip: add waaaay more color than you think you need.

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