Blue bow cake

This was the first cake I covered in fondant. It’s the first one from the Wilton fondant classes I took at my local craft store. The one that started my descent into cake decorating mania! It was the easiest cake I’ve done and also the quickest. Most cakes take a few days to complete. There are decorations that need time to dry and harden so they can retain their shape. (On this cake it was the bow loops and the curly things.) And then you need time to bake, frost, and cover the cake. I made the decorations and baked the cake on one day, then assembled and decorated it the next day.

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The first task was to color part of the fondant blue. People talk about gel colors staining things to the point where you think just opening the bottle is enough to permanently stain everything in a 30 mile radius. I haven’t found that to be true. Yes, my hands start out turning blue or red or whatever color but, as I work it, the fondant gets more colorful and my hands get less. I think it might have something to do with me using Crisco on my work surface rather than cornstarch. I kneaded the fondant and added the gel until I got the shade I wanted then rolled out it to an even thickness. (I highly recommend the rolling pins and guide rings from Wilton for this. You put a guide ring on either end of the rolling-pin and let them do the work of making everything even.) I used an angled off set spatula to cut different width strips of the blue fondant. I rolled each one around a straw to curl and set them aside to dry. Next up were the bow loops. I cut a wide strip of blue then folded it in half and scrunched the ends together to look like a bow. Once I got the loop shape I wanted, I stuffed some paper towel bits in the openings so the loops would dry that way. The rest of the ribbons and the flower centers would get rolled out later. It was still day one of the process so this was the day the actual cake got baked and set aside to cool.

Day two started with frosting the cake and covering it with the white fondant. (There’s an earlier post about how I do that here.) Then I rolled out the remaining blue fondant and cut out the rest of the ribbon pieces and the blue centers of the flowers. Most people use water to attach fondant pieces to the base fondant but I like vanilla extract instead. It evaporates faster than water so there’s less chance of the pieces sliding away. I used a tiny paintbrush to dab the vanilla on each ribbon strip and then put the strip on the cake. The ribbons go on first, then the tails of the bows, and then the loops. The curly bits got fitted in amongst the bow pieces, again using vanilla to secure them.

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Going back to the white fondant, I used a flower cutter to get the shape. I used the vanilla extract to attach the flowers to the cake. I cut some of the flowers in half and put them on the bottom of the cake to make it look more like a gift wrapped in flowered paper. I used the flat edge of the angled spatula to push the cut flowers closer to the cake so they would look like they were continued under it. I glued the blue centers on with the vanilla and I was done!

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Covering a cake with fondant

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This was the first fondant covered cake I made as part of the Wilton cake decorating classes. The one that started my obsession with fondant! I’ll tell you how I did it so you can be obsessed too! Please excuse the lack of pictures of the process. It’s not that I’m lazy, I wasn’t thinking far enough ahead so this blog wasn’t even a blip on my horizon. 

Let’s assume your cake is ready to be covered. It’s baked nicely and iced cleanly, just begging for a pretty fondant covering. Set your cake aside and prepare your work surface. Some people (most people) dust their work surface and tools with cornstarch to keep the fondant from sticking. I’m a Crisco person. For me, lightly greasing my counter top and rolling-pin works better. I think it makes the fondant softer and easier to work with. And it makes your hands soft! Grab a ball of fondant and start kneading it. If you’re going to color it, now is the time to do it. Knead it until the fondant is soft and pliable; then start rolling it out. You want it to be about 1/8th of an inch thick. Measure your cake – go up one side, across the top, and down the other side. Add 4 to 6 inches to this measurement and roll your fondant out to fit that total measurement. While you’re rolling, make sure your fondant isn’t sticking to your work surface. Slide it around; flip it over; anything to keep it moving. One of the worst things in the cake world is to do a fabulous job rolling out your fondant and then not being able to pick it up. When you’ve gotten it big enough, slide your hands (and possibly your arms) under the fondant and place it over the cake.  

Now start rubbing. You want to lightly rub the fondant to adhere it to the cake. Your goal is to make the fondant stick to the cake and to work all the fondant folds and wrinkles away from the cake and out to the edges. Hence, the extra inches of fondant you rolled out earlier. Start on the top and rub the fondant onto the cake, making everything lay flat and smooth. Don’t rush anything, just keep rubbing and smoothing. Then start down the sides. Rub one side to smooth it then work on another area. When you hit a big wrinkle, gently lift the fondant up and away from the cake to open the wrinkle up. Then get back to rubbing and smoothing. You’ll end up with a nicely covered cake with a lot of excess fondant bunched up around it. Trim away the most of the excess, leaving about half an inch or so to work with. I use a small (1/4 inch) brush and a tub of clear piping gel. Very gently lift that excess edge away from the cake and brush all the way around the bottom bit with the gel. Work the fondant back on to the cake and trim the remaining excess nicely. I like to use a tapered spatula to trim it away but you can use a knife or pizza cutter or whatever your heart desires. Once I’ve got the fondant trimmed, I like to use the flat side of the spatula to push the bottom edge of the fondant under the cake. It doesn’t really go under it; it makes edge look cleaner. And I’m all about the details so those teeny tiny (almost minuscule) ragged edges give me palpitations! That last sentence might not make my case but covering a cake really isn’t that hard to do. I hope you try it and end up agreeing with me.

Gran’s peanut butter frosting

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My grandmother was a fabulous cook. Everything she made was good. Her chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting was amazing. At Easter she made peanut butter eggs. Think Reese’s eggs but on steroids! People would place orders months in advance to make sure they got some.  And her peanut butter frosting is in the same league. Out of hundreds of people who’ve tried this cake – a staple in our family’s cooking and in a family that cooks for others a lot – everyone has always loved it. You will too!

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The light brown frosting on this cake is the peanut butter icing. The darker colors have gel coloring added to get the shades I wanted. There is a bit of a problem though. My grandmother didn’t measure things when she cooked. She added a bit of this and a handful of that and ended up with nirvana. So keep in mind that the measurements here aren’t set in stone. If you don’t like the texture, add some more sugar. Or maybe more coffee. Or whatever suits you. This is enough for a two layer cake. If you’re going to tort the layers (cut each layer in half) then you’ll need to make one and a half times or two times the recipe. This recipe can be doubled easily.
Mix ¼ cup butter with 1 cup of peanut butter. Add 3 tbsp of strong, cold coffee and mix well. Add 4 cups of confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth and spreadable. You might have to add more coffee or sugar to get a smooth result. You can substitute water for some of the coffee if the flavor is too strong for you.