Thursday, December 23, 2010

To Liz: Happy Birthday to the Newest Grad!

The newest grad, Liz, and her proud auntie, Arabrab!
Happy Birthday Liz! Congrats on your amazing accomplishments!

The double events for Liz called for a little celebration! And oh boy, did we celebrate! Eh hem, Auntie Barbie, yes I'm referring to you and your "wine" celebrating! We decided to make a nice dinner, and of course, end it with some delicious cake! Yum!

This was a perfect opportunity to attempt the art of Fondant! Oh boy, this was going to be a challenge, but knew I may as well start practicing now since my mom, sister and I will be making Heather's (my other sister's :)) wedding cake! Time to start practicing!

So for those of you who don't know what fondant is, it's a type of hardened "icing" on a cake. Its consistancy is very similar to Play-doh!

To learn more about fondant, here are some links to check out:

I found a fondant recipe on Allrecipes. It's actually not the typical fondant used, but it seemed fun and easy for a first attempt at it! This is a marshmallow fondant. I happened to have jumbo marshmallows that I decided to use! The original recipe calls for a package of miniature marshmallows, but since I have a scale the jumbo ones were used!

Marshmallow Fondant

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 16 ounces marshmallows
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 pounds confectioners' sugar, divided plus more for kneading!
  1. Place the butter in a shallow bowl, and set aside.
  2. Place the marshmallows in a large microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on High for 30 seconds to 1 minute to start melting the marshmallows. Carefully stir the water and vanilla extract into the hot marshmallows, and stir until the mixture is smooth. Slowly beat in the confectioners' sugar, a cup at a time, until you have a sticky dough. Reserve 1 cup (plus more) of powdered sugar for kneading. The dough will be very stiff.
  3. Rub your hands thoroughly with butter, and begin kneading the sticky dough. As you knead, the dough will become workable and pliable. Turn the dough out onto a working surface dusted with confectioners' sugar and continue kneading until the fondant is smooth and no longer sticky to the touch, 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Form the fondant into a ball, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. To use, allow the fondant to come to room temperature, and roll it out onto a flat surface dusted with confectioners' sugar.

So a small issue with my fondant: after two pounds of confectioner's sugar was added to make the  dough, I realized I still had a very sticky dough. As I was kneading the dough, it just clung to my hands! So I decided it would be a good idea to add more confectioner's sugar! Sticking to my hands like crazy, I went to grab for more confectioner's sugar, and everything I touched had dough on it... I should've taken pictures! It was on the microwave, on the confectioner's sugar container, all over the counter-top... I mean everywhere! But the addition of more confectioner's sugar solved my sticky dough problem!
I let the dough refrigerate overnight and during that time started making the cake! I decided on a red velvet cake, something I had never tried before!
I found the recipe for red velvent cake on Allrecipes and made slight changes based on the reviews!
Red Velvet Cake

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 ounces red food coloring
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup oil
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  1. Grease and flour two 9 inch round pans. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Make a paste of cocoa and food coloring. Set aside.
  2. Combine the buttermilk, salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening and 1 1/2 cups sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the cocoa mixture. Beat in the buttermilk mixture alternately with the flour, mixing just until incorporated. Stir together baking soda and vinegar, then gently fold into the cake batter.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
When I began making this cake, I decided to weight out the amount of food coloring  the recipe called for. Well, after emptying two small containers of red food coloring and only having a total weight of 0.5 ounces, I was thinking something was wrong! So rather than using the full 2 ounces the recipe called for, I stuck with the half ounce, thinking it was more than enough food coloring! 

Birthday girl cutting the cake and smirking
because of something Arabrab said!

The cake turned out beautifully! Allowing the cakes to cool before frosting, I began on the traditional frosting used for red velvet cakes, which turns out, is not cream cheese frosting! The traditional frosting is cooked over low heat with milk and flour, then once it thickens and cools, it is stirred into a creamed mixture of sugar, butter and vanilla extract. BUT I had a problem - after making this frosting TWICE and having the same outcome - the butter and milk separating - I decided I would have to go with a different frosting recipe! Completely upset about my frosting error that not only happened once, but twice, I began reading up on what I could have done wrong! Here is the first issue: the type of milk you are using. This recipe needs whole milk, which I didn't have. The second issue is that this frosting needs to be kept refrigerated. It has a tendency to separate at room temperature. Ok, absolute frosting FAIL!

So I began looking for a new recipe and after hours of searching for the right one, I found it!!

The Perfect Frosting for Red Velvet Cake (click link to view website)
Beautiful Thick White Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 egg whites (at room temperature) 
  1. Combine sugar, cream of tartar, salt and water in heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is clear. Cook until mixture reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage).
  2. Beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Let mixer continue to run and slowly pour the sugar mixture in a thin stream down the side of the mixer bowl (don't let the sugar mixture come into contact with the beaters). Continue beating until stiff peaks form and frosting thickens to desired consistency. 
The frosting was used for the filling between the two cake layers and to frost the top and sides of the cake. Frosting the cake before laying the fondant down helps the fondant stick to the cake better! Make sure it is a thin layer of frosting, or else your fondant will look distorted once it is layed on the cake. And you only get one chance to lay the fondant on the cake!

Believe me, I am speaking from experience! Luckily, I had more than enough extra fondant, because I had to do it all over again after ripping the fondant off the cake with half of the frosting the first time because of too much frosting on the tops and sides of the cake. It was such a mess and it made the fondant not have a very "smooth" appearance. So trial number one's rolled out fondant was trashed, and trial number two cooperated much better for me!

After all my hard work on my first try at fondant, it was a success. The cake was delicious and I'm glad I could share it with loved ones!

No comments:

Post a Comment