Saturday, February 26, 2011
Call of Duty
I chose to make the camo design from fondant. I found 2 different tutorials on how to accomplish this online. One involved breaking off random shaped/sized pieces of camo colored fondant and arranging them randomly together, then rolling them flat... they stick together and form a camo-printed sheet of fondant. Well, while this worked on a small scale while practicing, when I attempted to do it on a full-scale (making the arrangement about 10"x10" so it would roll out large enough to cover the cake) I found that the pieces dried out before I could roll it and, therefore, would not stick together. In hindsight, I could have made all my little bits of fondant in advance and kept them in a ziplock bag to prevent drying, or I could have kept my arrangement covered in plastic wrap while I worked... but I didn't think of doing either. I decided after that failed to use option #2... make a camo pattern on paper, transfer that to wax paper, and cut each piece of fondant out like puzzle pieces, and fit them together on the cake. I covered my cake in a super-thin layer of fondant and "glued" the camo pieces on with a little water. I did the top and each side separately, then sealed the edges of the cake with strips of marbled fondant (using the same colors as the camo). It came together well, but you could still see the seams where the pieces meet. Tutorial for Option 1 can be found here: http://www.sweetcreationsbystephanie.com/2010/07/fondant-camo-cupcake-topper-tutorial.html. Tutorial for Option 2 can be found here: http://sugaredblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/fondant-camo-hat.html -- and, although I did not make my camo pattern as elaborate as hers, it does take a significant amount of time. I chose to place the camo "puzzle pieces" directly on a fondant covered cake, while she covered the cake in fondant, then place the camo pieces on another layer of fondant before placing that on the cake. I think her way would allow you the opportunity to roll the camo sections flat and seal the seams between the pieces before placing them on the cake, and if I get the chance to try again I will follow all of her directions--- actually I think I would attempt Option 1 again, but take precautions to keep the pieces from drying out... it would be a lot faster! Happy caking!
My Icing Recipes
1 cup softened unsalted butter
1 cup shortening
2 tsp vanilla (use clear vanilla for whiter icing)
2 pounds powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
Thoroughly mix butter, shortening and vanilla on low speed, scraping down sides of bowl often. Stop mixer and add sugar 1-2 cups at a time mixing thoroughly on low speed, scraping down sides of bowl often. Add the milk with the last bit of sugar and mix well on low speed.
Makes 6 cups of icing
1) Use a stand mixer... this icing is very thick and will break a handheld mixer (trust me, I know!)
2) You may add 1 to 2 tsp light corn syrup per cup of icing to thin it for frosting a cake. You may find this is not always necessary.
3) I recommend Wilton brand icing colors. They will not thin the icing like liquid food colors will.
Chocolate Buttercream Icing
1/2 cup (one stick) softened unsalted butter
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups powdered sugar
2/3 cup cocoa
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup milk
Makes 3 cups of icing.
Add butter and cocoa to stand mixer and blend well on low speed, scraping down sides of bowl often. Add remaining ingredients to bowl and mix well on low speed until it is fluffy and well blended (about 3 minutes). Add more milk, 1 Tbsp at a time if it is too thick, add more sugar, 1 Tbsp at a time if it is too thin.
10 ounce bag of mini marshmallows (not Jet Puffed--- they tend to shrink back)
1 Tbsp water
*Approximately 5 cups of powdered sugar
Makes enough to cover and decorate an 8-inch round cake.
Prepare a large area on your counter for kneading the fondant by thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing it, then grease the area with shortening and add a layer of powdered sugar to prevent sticking. Then pour about 4 to 5 cups of powdered sugar on the counter in a pile, make a shallow well in the pile. Mix the fondant as follows.
Add mini marshmallows and water to a large glass microwavable bowl. Microwave on high for 1 minute. Stir well, mixture should be soupy. Add desired icing color at this time (it can be kneaded in later, but it is easier to do it now). Stir in about 1 cup powdered sugar. Pour the mixture into the well of sugar on the counter. Gently knead in the sugar until the fondant is soft, pliable, but not sticky or dry. You may not use all the sugar in the pile...stop mixing when the fondant is the correct consistency (no longer sticky, but not dry). Wrap the fondant tightly in plastic wrap and/or place in a ziplock bag to prevent it from drying out until you are ready to use it. Be sure to wrap it and bag it well so it doesn't take on any flavors or odors from food in the fridge. I recommend refrigerating it at least overnight prior to using it. This allows it to settle and cool thoroughly. Allow it to return to room temperature before continuing. When ready to use the fondant, prepare your counter by greasing it with shortening and add a layer of powdered sugar to prevent sticking. Roll the fondant out to the correct size to cover the top and sides of your cake and about 1/8 inch thickness. Gently roll the fondant over your rolling pin and unroll over your cake. Smooth and stretch the fondant until the cake is well covered, being careful not to tear it with your fingernails. Work slowly... do not force it into place. Smooth smooth smooth it with greased hands or a fondant smoother. Trim the excess fondant from the bottom of the cake with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. To decorate your fondant covered cake with fondant decorations, simply "glue" them to the cake using a tiny bit of water. You may also decorate a fondant covered cake with buttercream icing borders, dots, writing, etc...
*NOTES*1) You may want to grease your hands and remove your rings before knead or working with fondant.
2) If you get air bubbles in the fondant, simply prick them with a pin and smooth the hole with a greased finger.
3) Remove excess powdered sugar from the fondant cake by brushing with a pastry brush.
4) To achieve an even sheen all over the cake, smooth a tiny bit of shortening all over the fondant.
5) When trimming the excess fondant from the bottom of the cake, be careful not to trim too closely to the cake, sometimes the fondant will shrink back leaving a gap showing.
6)I typically buy 2 bags of marshmallows and 1 2-lb bag of powdered sugar. Most of the time it is enough sugar to make 2 batches of fondant, but if the weather is rainy or humid, it sometimes takes more sugar.
7)I have bought 1 bag of sugar and 1 1-lb box of sugar... but the boxed sugar seems hard and full of lumps, whereas I rarely have that problem with the bagged variety.
8)I don't take the time to sift my sugar and usually have no problems with lumps... if you have the time and desire, by all means, sift the sugar before you use it. :)
True Black Marshmallow Fondant
1 10-ounce bag mini marshmallows
3 Tablespoons water
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 to 2 teaspoons black gel coloring
1 2-lb bag confectioners sugar
Add marshmallows and water to a microwaveable bowl. Microwave on High for 1 minute, then stir well and microwave 1 additional minute. Marshmallows will be HOT when you remove them from the microwave (keep an eye on them as they cook the final few seconds as they puff up and may spill over!). Stir in chocolate chips until melted. Add Black icing color and stir until it is truly black through and through. Add 1 cup or so of confectioners sugar and stir. Add more sugar and stir then knead until you reach the right texture (no longer sticky, but not dry... it should still be soft). Allow to cool before covering a cake. Store tightly wrapped in plastic wrap and in an air-tight container for up to 1 month. PLEASE NOTE: the original recipe called for 1 lb. of sugar... it took me about 1 lb. plus 1 cup.... it will NOT take 2 full pounds of sugar, just add it and knead it in until you reach the right texture.
_____________________________________________White modeling chocolate:
12 ounces white chocolate almond bark (or a bag of white candy melts)
2 Tbsp corn syrup
*Melt white chocolate in microwave in a glass bowl, stir until smooth. Add corn syrup and stir (it will thicken quickly). Spread onto a cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temp or in the fridge until cool. Remove from plastic wrap and knead thoroughly. You can use cornstarch if it sticks to your surface, but I kneaded it on a non-stick plastic cutting board and did not have any trouble with sticking.
Chocolate modeling chocolate:
1 bag light cocoa candy melts (milk chocolate)
1/3 cup corn syrup
*Melt cocoa melts in microwave in a glass bowl. Stir until smooth. Add corn syrup and stir (it will thicken quickly). Spread onto a cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temp or in the fridge until cool. Remove from plastic wrap and knead thoroughly. You can use cocoa powder if it sticks to your surface, but I kneaded it on a non-stick plastic cutting board and did not have any trouble with sticking.
*Store wrapped in plastic wrap or in a Ziplock bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Dried sculptures can be stored at room temperature for several months. Tastes sort of like Tootsie Rolls (similar consistency, too).
Note: do not use chocolate chips.. you have to really watch the temperature if you do, and not let it get over 100°. I prefer this method b/c it is easier.
My Favorite Baking and Decorating Hints!
BAKING PERFECT 2-INCH (OR 3-INCH) DEEP CAKE LAYERS
I make sure my cake pans are filled 2/3 full before baking. I typically use a flower nail in the center of 8, 9 and 10 inch pans for heat distribution during baking. When the cake is done, remove from the oven and, using a clean oven mitt, gently press down on the "hump" that rises up in the center. Keep gently pressing until the cake is level. This method gives you a full pan of cake, with none wasted by having to cut off the hump to level it.
Achieving Smooth Buttercream on your cake
Use a Turntable when icing your cakes. It makes the process of smoothing the sides and top so much quicker and easier! I use a simple lazy-susan, although there are many professional cake decorating turntables available.
I usually apply my frosting using a large decorating bag and an icing tip (the BIG one by Wilton). I then use an angled spatula to smooth the icing as much as possible. Allow the icing to set, or crust over for 20 minutes or more. Then use a small piece of wax paper and a fondant roller (the small wooden one with a handle) to smooth over the cake, very, very gently. This helps hide lines from the spatula and give the cake a super smooth and shiny finish.
You can never have too much no-slip shelf liner!
I use no-slip shelf liner (the rubbery kind) on my turntable under the cake as I work, as well as in the box, under the cake for delivery, and under the box in the car to keep the cake from sliding around. It is a definite must-have!! I buy it in rolls at the Dollar Tree.
A great way to cut perfect individual size circles from a sheet cake is to use a round, deeply serrated cabbage chopper! This is how I cut the circles to stack and build the silo on the barn yard cake. It cuts perfect 3-inch circles... all you do is twist it gently back and forth while pushing it down into the cake. This would be a great way to make individual-sized cakes from a sheet cake!A new way to cover a cake board, well, new to me, and one I hope to use again and again is shown on the Pig and Cow Print Cake. I covered a square board with bandana I purchased for $1 at Wal-mart. I stapled the bandana to the back of the board, then covered it with cellophane to keep the icing from staining the fabric (taping the cellophane to the back of the baord). I purchased the clear cellophane at the Dollar Tree. I then cut a piece of wax paper the same size as the cake and taped it to the center of the board, so the cake rested on the wax paper and not the cellophane (because I was unsure if the cellophane is food-safe). I love the effect, and you could use any kind of paper or fabric under the cellophane to acheive this appearance!
MORE TO COME!