Monday, June 14, 2010

In the Beginning

My daughter's second birthday was quickly approaching and there was no question as to what theme the party would be. The Christmas before she recieved the movie, "The Jungle Book" and watched it as often as I would let her. She knew all of the songs and characters. She could even tell you what scene was coming up next. I did a lot of research on decorations and game ideas, but what I saw over and over were jungle themed cakes. 'I could do this'. After scaling through hundreds of pictures and watching several youtube videos, I knew what I wanted, now how to execute my ideas into a cake:

Plan: To make a double layered cake, covered in fondant with a river running down it and animals covering it.

Problem #1: baking first 10" cake came out of the pan beautifully. My second, not so much. So, after contemplating whether I should continue baking more cakes or use what I had, my husband helped me assemble a semi-three layered cake. What I realized the next morning when I was ready to cover it in fondant was that I should have covered each layer separately. This leads me to...

Problem #2: fondant....hhh....most cake designers/bakers will charge a lot more for a cake done in fondant because it takes more time, effort and money than just icing with buttercream. I, however, was not intimidated by the challenge, because really, how hard can it be? (go make some fondant, and tell me how it works for ya!) So, I chose to make Marshmallow (mm) fondant because it apparently doesn't taste as bad and is easier to work with. Well, it does taste a bit better and I've never worked with regular fondant, so I'm not sure which is easier. It's a lot like playing with playdough.

MM fondant Recipe:
16oz bag of Jet-Puffed mini-marshmallows
2 Tbs. of water
2lbs of C&H powdered sugar
1/2c shortening (you will need enough to cover bowl, spatula, counter, hands and to apply if fondant is too dry.)

Grease large microwave safe bowl and rubber spatula with crisco. Add bag of marshmallows and 2Tbs. of water and heat for up to 3min., stirring every 30seconds. Once marshmallows are completely melted, remove from microwave. Grease your counter and pour half the powdered sugar on the counter. Make a bowl shape and add the melted marshmallow. Pour the rest of the sugar on top of the marshmallow mix. Now for the fun part; apply shortening liberally to your hands and begin to combine the sugar and marshmallow mix. It will seem a bit overwhelming at first, but KEEP AT IT. Over several minutes the oozing blob will start to form into a nice ball of fondant. Keep adding shortening and sugar to the counter to keep from sticking. If your fondant seems too dry, and the tiniest bit of water and it will liven it up. You can also add crisco to your hands and massage it in. To color your fondant, use a tooth pick to apply small amounts of icing coloring at a time. Remember, you can always add more, but you can't take away.

My oozy mess starting to form into a lump of fondant! Probably could have used more shortening on my hands.
Here is my final product. I used Dollar Tree toy animals, but everything else was edible. The rocks were raisinets and the grass, flowers and waterfall were fruit roll ups that I cut to fit. I also used fruit roll up for the palm tree leaves and a pretzel stick for the trunk.
Notes for next time:
Use Wilton's Cake Release to ensure better cake removal.
Fondant each layer separately
Shine up fondant with a little shortening to get rid of powdered sugar marks from rolling out.