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: