Saturday, November 14, 2015

Maine Maple Leaves... Made out of Fondant!

Fall in Maine means chilly, sunny days and beautiful colors... a perfect motif for a cake!  I recently received a request for a fall-themed wedding cake, so I dug out my cookie cutters and my airbrush to make some simple fall leaves.

Materials Needed:
* Food-Grade Airbrush (If you don't already have an airbrush and you're considering purchasing one, I got my airbrush for less than $60 from Amazon, and it came with the airbrush, compressor, and four basic colors.  It is a useful tool for practically any cake project, and it is definitely worth the investment!)
* Food-Grade Airbrush Paint (I used the Americolor Amerimist Cake Colors that came in my kit) red, yellow, and green - brown would also work, if you don't have green.
* Yellow Fondant or Gumpaste (I used Wilton Decorator Preferred Fondant mixed with a small amount of Gum-Tex tylose powder to help it harden)
* Maple Leaf Cookie Cutter
* Leaf Impression Mat or Impression Mold
* Egg carton (or something similar) to help shape the leaves

Tint fondant a golden yellow color.  I used Wilton "golden yellow" and added a tiny bit of brown to tone it down.  Then roll out your fondant onto a confectionary sugar-covered surface until the fondant is just thin enough to be able to see through it.  Use the cookie cutter to cut out leaves.

Press each leaf onto the impression mat.

Place the leaves in a random arrangement on the egg carton.  I pinched each of the stems to make them narrower, and I curled some of the edges of the leaves with my finger.

Next, use the airbrush to paint a layer of red on the leaves.  I painted the tips of the leaves, and then lightly sprayed random wisps of red on each leaf.  At this stage, the leaves look almost neon orange.

For the last step, either mix four or five drops of red with one drop of green paint, or just use brown.  Spray around the outside edge of each leaf, and then go back and spray the contours.

Finished Leaves (Sorry for the poor lighting... This picture was taken under fluorescent lights.)

Note - If you would like your leaves to be brighter, or have more contrast, just add more red!


Monday, July 27, 2015

Sleeping Beauty (Aurora/Maleficent) Cake

Recently, someone asked about a tutorial for the Aurora/Maleficent cake that I made for my niece's third birthday in January.  At the time, I just didn't have time to create a tutorial, but I've got a few extra minutes now, so here it is! :-)

This cake is a three-layer, six-inch vanilla cake with vanilla frosting.  I purchased most of the fondant pre-colored from Amazon.  The purple is Fondarific Purple and the other colors are from Wilton: hot pink, black, and white.  The Aurora and Maleficent toppers are part of a figurine set that I also purchased from Amazon.


Bake, cool, fill, and stack three six-inch layers of cake (this cake was about 4.5 inches tall).  Cover the cake with a thin layer of frosting and then use a knife to mark the frosting where you want the two colors of fondant to meet (approximately in the middle of the top and sides).

Roll out some purple fondant.  (Note: the Fondarific brand is a little bit softer than the Wilton fondant, so you may prefer to add a little bit of tylose powder or GumTex to stiffen it up, although it isn't necessary).  Use a rotary cutter or knife to cut a straight edge on one side of the fondant while it is still lying flat, then drape the fondant over the cake so that the straight edge goes across the top of the cake.  Press the fondant around the edge of the cake.

Use scissors or a sharp knife to trim away the excess fondant on the sides, and then use your rotary cutter or knife to trim the excess away from the bottom.  

Repeat this process with the pink fondant.  The seam and bottom edge do not need to be perfect because they will be covered later on.

 Next, create the divider image.  Print this template of the background images for Aurora and Maleficent.  If you are unable to open the template, you can print the following images:

 Cut a piece of cardboard to match the size and shape of the template images and then glue the images to the cardboard (ensure that the grain/ripples/channels of the cardboard are vertical).  Trim the divider/images, as needed, and then insert two skewers into the channels of the cardboard.  Here are some photos of the front and back:

To create the Maleficent side, roll several "logs" of black fondant (various lengths and widths) with one wide end and one pointy end.  Attach the black fondant to the purple with some piping gel, edible glue, or a small amount of water, and then use a small pair of scissors to make several cuts into the logs to create thorns. (I started with with the thicker pieces, and then added thinner pieces afterward.)  Use thorny vines to cover the seams on the sides of the cake and around the bottom edge.

I used a clay extruder to add a rim of black fondant around the Maleficent side of the divider and a pink rim of fondant around the rim of the Aurora side.  Once the black fondant had hardened a little bit, I brushed a thin layer of shortening over the thorny vines to make them shiny.  Here is a picture of the finished Maleficent side:

Unfortunately, I did not take many pictures while I was creating the Aurora side, but this side did not take nearly as long as the Maleficent side.  

To make the swags for the front of the Aurora side, mix a small amount of the hot pink fondant with some white fondant.  Then roll a small piece of the light pink fondant and drape it over some wooden dowels to create the pleats (the length doesn't matter, because you can cut it later).  Fold the top and bottom edges under so there are no "raw" edges, and then pinch the left and right ends together while removing the fondant from the dowel.  

Attach it to the front/center of the cake with some piping gel and then repeat the process to create the other two swags.  The edges where the swags meet do not need to be perfect, because they will be covered by buttons.  To make the buttons, I used a silicone mold, but you could use whatever type of design/mold that you prefer.  You could also use balls of fondant or flowers.  If your edges are neater than mine, you won't need to cover them up with anything. :-)

Next, create the drapes for the sides of the cake using the same process that you used for the swags, except you only need to pinch one end and then let the other end hang freely.  Attach them to the sides of the cake to help cover the seams.  You can either allow the drapes to overlap the swags where they meet, or you can allow the swags to overlap the drapes (I chose the latter).  Adjust your swags and drapes to your desired preferences while they are still pliable.  I dusted my swags and drapes with a little bit of silver luster dust, but later regretted it because it didn't cover as evenly as I would have liked.

Add a row of pearls around the top edge, if desired.  I used a small pearl mold, but edible pearls or small balls of white fondant would work equally as well.

To create the name plate for the front of the Aurora side, I used this template and adjusted it to the size of the name that I was using.  Again, if you are unable to view the template, you can use the following image and resize it to meet your needs:

Print the template (preferably onto cardstock) and then cut it out.  Roll out a thin piece of white fondant onto some wax/parchment paper, lay the template on top, and then use a sharp knife to cut it out.  Attach it to the cake with some piping gel.

I used the Funky Alphabet Tappits cutters to create the letters for Lily's name.  Then I painted the front of each letter with some edible gold paint.  At this point, I also decided to add a thin, light pink border around the frame using my clay extruder.  It was a barely noticeable addition.

To make the ruffles along the bottom edge, I used the same technique that I used for my princess cake tutorial:

Roll a strip of fondant to your desired level of thickness.  Initially, I rolled my fondant really thin, and it didn't hold the shape as well, so I ended up making it a little bit thicker.  Cut a long strip of fondant (length doesn't matter right now) that is about one inch wide.

Cut the strip into smaller sections (mine were about 3 inches).

To create the pleats, use your finger and thumbs to create three pleats (or more, if you want) in each strip.

 Pinch the pleats together at the top.

 Cut off the excess pinched portion at the top of the ruffle so that the ruffle is flat on top.

 This is what a finished ruffle looks like: 

Add some edible pearls, Sixlets, or some balls of white fondant in between the ruffles.

Lastly, add a strip of hot pink fondant (the same thickness as the strip that goes around the top) where the bottom of the divider meets the cake to give it a more finished look.

We're done!

And Lily loved it! :-)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Simple Chevron Tutorial

I love chevron, but it is difficult to get crisp edges and perfect spacing.  I saw tons of videos online of stenciling with royal icing.  They made it look so easy, so I decided to try that technique on a cake that I made a few weeks ago, but I really didn't like the results:

I hated the texture of the dry royal icing (there's nothing appealing about crusty frosting) and the coverage was inconsistent, so it was dark in some spots, but barely visible in other spots, as you can see in the picture above.  Not only that, but it didn't apply as neatly as the instructors in the videos promised.  Keep in mind, this was my first attempt at stenciling with royal icing, so someone who has any stenciling experience would likely be much more successful, but I digress...

So anyway, for my most recent cake, I decided to try a different technique using a fondant cutter that I found on Amazon, hoping that the results would be much more successful.  Luckily, they were, and the technique was much quicker and simpler than stenciling.  The technique I used was designed by Jessica Harris, and can be used to lay out and transfer all types of fondant designs.

* fondant cutter
* wax paper
* plastic wrap
* rotary cutter/pizza cutter
* shortening
* fondant (of course!)
* meter stick
* piping gel or edible glue

First, measure the circumference of your cake... or do a little math!  Remember, circumference = 3.14 x diameter - that was my "teacher moment" of the day. ;-)  Then cut a strip of wax paper a little bit longer than that length, just to be on the safe side.

Rub a thin layer of shortening all over the wax paper.  (I used a paper towel for this because I hate the feeling of Crisco on my hands.  You could also brush it on with a large paintbrush.)  This will help the design stick to the wax paper.  Then roll your fondant out onto the wax paper.  It should be close to the bottom edge of the wax paper, but not overlapping, because you'll need to be able to see the edge when it's time to cut the fondant.

Next, trim the bottom edge with a rotary cutter, using a meter stick as a guide.  Make sure that the edge of your fondant is parallel to the bottom of the wax paper.  As you can see in the photo below, the edge of my fondant is about 1/2 inch about the bottom of the wax paper because I wanted my design to start 1/2 inch above the base of my cake.  Don't worry, though... If it isn't perfectly parallel, you can always trim the wax paper afterward.

Lay a sheet of plastic wrap over the fondant (this prevents the fondant from sticking to the cutter).  

Starting at the bottom, press your cutter into the plastic wrap and fondant, and repeat until you reach the end of the row.  Then align the cutter with the top edge of the bottom row and proceed to cut the next row.  Continue until you have as many rows as you want.  (It is helpful to measure the height of the cake... I didn't and I ended up making an extra row.)

Once you've created all of the rows you want, remove the plastic wrap and gently peel the excess fondant away, leaving only the chevron design.  The shortening on the wax paper helps to hold the design in place as you remove the excess fondant.  Once I had removed all of the excess fondant, I trimmed the top of my wax paper, so that it didn't get in the way during the next step.

Next, use a paintbrush to spread a thin layer of piping gel or edible glue onto the design so that it will stick to your cake.  Then pick up the whole sheet of wax paper (don't worry... your design will stay in place) and wrap it around your cake, ensuring that the bottom of the wax paper is lined up with the bottom of your cake.

Press firmly with your hand, or with a fondant smoother, all around the cake to ensure that the design will stick to the cake.  (You can see my extra row in the photo below.)  

Gently peel the wax paper away from the cake.  The design should stick to the cake as you pull the wax paper away.  And that's it!  It probably took longer for me to write this blog than it will take you to complete the process. :-) 

The finished product:

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Fondant Ruffles Tutorial

I love, love, LOVE making "girly" cakes (not to sound sexist... boys can love pink things too, of course!)... anything pink and frilly, especially bows and ruffles!  I made a frilly baby shower cake for a friend this weekend, and I took some pictures of the process so that I could share my ruffle tutorial with you!  I have made ruffle cakes using a few different techniques, but this one seems to be the easiest, and produces the most consistent results.  Here is a tutorial on the technique that I use to make them.  Just for the record, I did not invent this method, and I have no idea who did; I just refined a technique that I found online to meet my needs. :-)

This is a quick tutorial, but the process is not quick, by any means.  Ruffle-making is very time consuming.  It's totally worth it, though!

Roll fondant out on parchment paper.  Using two different-sized circle cutters, cut out some fondant "doughnuts."  (I used five four-inch circles per row on a 10" diameter cake.)  Next, cut a slit in each circle. *Note: if your fondant doesn't normally dry hard, or if it takes a long time to dry, mix a little bit of tylose powder into it.

Use a wooden skewer or a toothpick to roll along the edge of the circle.

This is what it looks like... Look at how frilly it is when you start to straighten it out!  This technique worked so much better for me than starting with straight strips of fondant, because the circular strips have a natural tendency to pleat/ruffle as you straighten them.

Attach it to the cake with some piping gel, edible glue, or water. (I used piping gel, and it worked like a charm!)

Use toothpicks to support your ruffles while they dry.  I recommend toothpicks with colored ends so that they're easy to see when it's time to remove them. Don't feel bad about poking holes in your pretty cake... no one will see them. :-)

Almost there!  I hope you have lots of toothpicks on hand!

Finally!  I ran out of toothpicks when I got to the top row.  Luckily, the bottom rows were dry by then, so I could use those toothpicks.

Is this a cake or a porcupine?

After a couple of hours, when the ruffles feel hard to the touch, it's safe to remove all of the toothpicks.  It's a time-consuming process, but it's totally worth it!

Here is the finished product: