As I’ve mentioned before, my only attempt to do anything with fondant in the trailer was an epic fail, resulting in okay cakes, but they were what I’d call “pity cakes:” Salvaged from a grander attempt, but not even close to what I’d originally planned.

Today is Daphne’s birthday party, and she wanted to have sponge cake. Her clever joke is that the cake itself wouldn’t be a sponge cake, but that the cake would actually look like a sponge. That way, when she told people she was having sponge cake for her birthday and they were not impressed, she could surprise them with a yummy slice of whatever we ended up making.

My idea was to make a large, thin sheet cake, then ice it, and cover it with a mottled fondant to look something like the sponges we have here, which have abstract patterns on the scrubbing side. This would involve making a successful fondant, though. Could I do it in this small space and with three extremely nosey cats?

The first step was to make two yummy cakes. Daphne wanted both chocolate and white. We used the chiffon cupcake recipes from Good Eats (and AB’s latest book of the same name). The batters were amazing, and the cakes baked fairly flat, so I didn’t have to trim off too much.

As I have also mentioned, though, my oven tends to burn the bottom of whatever I’m cooking. My mom got me some SilPat sheets, and that helps, but still, we ended up with this:

I was able just to take the edges off and slide the knife up under the shiny burnt part of the bottom of the cake without removing too much of it.

And, yes, I saved the edges for Daphne to sample. No part of the cake is wasted in the Van Down By the River.

Next, I made a buttercream frosting from the Good Eats 3 book; it’s not online that I can see. 

Technically, when you’re icing a cake, you’re supposed to put down a crumb layer first. A crumb layer is a thin initial layer of icing that will probably pick up cake crumbs, but you don’t care, because once it dries, you really ice the cake with a thick layer of clean icing, and the crumb layer holds in the crumbs. However, this icing was exceptionally thick and difficult to spread (which I wanted for structure and to hold up to the fondant without sliding off of the edges of the cake), and the cake was very light. I didn’t want to fight spreading the thin layer, and, besides, I knew that the fondant would cover up the crumbs. If you look at the big picture, you’ll see what I’m talking about. If I were just making a cake with regular frosting, this is what the crumb layer would look like. THEN the cake would be properly frosted.

After the cakes were covered, I made fondant using this recipe. It is the best fondant I have ever made, and I’ve tried quite a few recipes. I had no luck with the marshmallow-based fondant and would not recommend it. I also don’t recommend buying prepared fondant at the store, as I have heard it is pretty much inedible.

As far as homemade fondant goes, there are two camps: One (which is the camp in which I am firmly entrenched) is “YUMMY! Fondant!” The other is “Whoa! That’s too sweet.” I don’t believe anything is “too” sweet (although I could see it being too much, as in “I ate too much of that really sweet thing.”), but I get that other people do. Even if you don’t like the taste of fondant, it has the benefit of acting as plastic wrap to your cakes. If you cover a cake in fondant, you scan store it in your laundry room for a couple of days and the cake will still be moist when you’re ready to eat it.

One important tip: NEVER EVER WRAP FONDANT-COVERED CAKE IN PLASTIC WRAP! The fondant will soak up the moisture from the icing, and there’s nowhere for it to go, so it will get sticky. It will air dry if you leave it out, and it will protect the cake. Trust me.

I made the fondants two different colors. I really do like the sort of tie-dye look here. If I ever want a solid fondant, I add the food coloring before mixing in all of the powdered sugar. This is not how most instructions read, but I find it easier to mix and get an solid, dark color.

The pinkish one...

Color starting to show through after rolling and folding and rolling and folding.

It's like the painted desert of fondant!

Thought I'd see if pre-spreading made any difference.

Folded into thirds...

... for a fondant color burrito.

Flatten and prepare to roll.

Love the purple!

These were the covered cakes. Normally, you’d want the fondant to go down and cover all of the edges to the table. However, these are supposed to be sponges, so we only need the fondant along the top of the “sponge.”

Pretty rectangles. Wish I had a cleaner cutter or a better cutting system. Will work on that.

Mmm... a cross-section of the chocolate sponge.

Beautiful twins

So here we have it: Stacks of cleaning supplies…

Happy birthday, Brookie!

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