Miscellaneous Cake Baking & Decorating
The MOST IMPORTANT thing I can advise you is that you DO NOT buy pieces, veiners and cutters from different vendors when you are starting gum paste work. Once you know what you are doing, you can find ways to make things match the way you want them to. But as a beginner, you will drive yourself NUTS trying to get the lovely results you have imagined.
Also, the longer the flower
sits before you color it and use it on a cake it seems they get
stronger. Pre-making gumpaste flowers by weeks, drying and storing
is a real plus for decorators.
My question is this...you mention something about light pressing a cake right after removing it from the oven to even it out and make it slightly more dense to hold up to fondant, but you didn’t say how. You mentioned using tea towels, because the cake will be hot, but won’t the cake just spring right back up if all you do is press it with your hands? Do you put something a little bit heavy on top of the cake, like another pan filled with something to make it heavy enough to press the top of the cake flat?
I also have a question about filling. My friend wants strawberry filling between the layers. I have heard from various sources that if I were to just spread jam or preserves between the layers...it will soak into the cake. This is great to know but I can’t find a solution to this problem anywhere except...someone told me that Wilton makes a filling but I am afraid it won’t taste as good as a nice strawberry preserve or homemade filling would. I thought about lightly frosting the cake with buttercream and then putting in the layer of jam...but like is said...this is my first big cake like this and unfortunately, I don’t have time to do too many experiments.
Thank you for being so willing to share your knowledge and experience with all of us. -
As you take the cake out of the oven, notice if your cake has domed. If it has, take a clean tea towel and place it on the cake. Gently press down with your hand. This will gently press the steam out of the inner bubbles and “collapse” the area that has domed. You cake will also get a little denser in texture. Take the towel off the cake and allow it to cool for 10 minutes.
If your cake is still badly domed, you will have to decide if you will need to slice the offending dome off with a serrated knife.
The easy way to remove the cake from the pan is to place the rack on the top of the cake pan, hold both firmly together and invert both at the same time. Place the rack on the counter and gentle remove the pan from the cake. If there was a dome left after the smashing, it is now in the down position on the rack. The weight of the layer and warmth in the cake will finish the leveling job for you.
Now about the filling:
Just remember to relax and have fun.
My question is when you are making a cake with two or more tiers, do you put the fondant icing on each tier separately then assemble the cake? Or do you assemble the cake then put the fondant on? If you do the last one, do you put any icing in between the tiers?
But, since you asked, my best suggestion is that you go to the Wilton Web site and read what they have to say about wedding and wedding cake making. There is great information for free and just about the best place to start. After that you can either visit your library or pick up a book or two on line. I often check out the used books to pick up a great priced deal for a book that I want to keep. After I'm done with a book, I donate it to the local library so that others can benefit.
Personally, I like the following books:
By the way,
one of the colors that will be an "in" color
for the next few years is Sage.
I'm making a cake for my daughter's birthday party (this Friday). I was planning to make the cake on Thursday. She has requested my fudgy chocolate cake. This is a very rich, dense chocolate cake normally frosted with a simple chocolate ganache. It is normally just two layers and the ganache goes between the layers as well as over the whole cake. It hardens after sitting, but the cake always stays very moist.
My problem is that she wants a light lavender cake - with two tiers. I have 6-inch and 10-inch cake pans and plan to make each tier 3 layers. But how do I make the cake lavender? I've already made flowers (royal icing), and the only way I can think of to make this cake lavender is with your delicious MM Fondant. I have made this before, so making it and coloring it is not a problem. I'm just wondering how to put this cake together. As far as I can see, I have four options.
Oh, or I suppose I could just buy a cake, couldn't I? I would really appreciate your input on this! I am a real novice when it comes to these things - this is the first big birthday cake I've ever attempted, and the first time I've EVER made a birthday cake for my daughter. I really want it to turn out well.
Thank you again for the great site and advice!
Now this is my opinion - I'd not make myself crazy and make two different cakes. My daughter would either get the fudgy chocolate cake with ganache and a few flowers. On another day, she would get the lavender cake. (We call it a Happy Tuesday Present in our family.) My daughter, Rachel, would be ecstatic to have a second "birthday" party a few weeks apart.
That said, there is one other option that you might like. Make your ganache from white chocolate candy disks and color the ganache a lavender color. Add your food color to the warm cream and then add the white chocolate disks so they can melt.
This could be a little bit closer to sanity.
So in this case, since I don't know the size of your pan, I can't give you exact batter measurements. Place your cakes on a baking sheet if possible then bake at 325 degrees F. (160 C). As to the baking time you'll have to go by eye and nose. Use a toothpick to check if the cake is done.
Remember if you have a little batter left over, you can always make yourself a few cupcakes, and since no one knows you made them, you don't have to share your goodies unless you want to.
After a couple of days, the egg whites/meringue starts breaking down and change the texture of the icing. I’ve seen it turn very watery. Also, it can start to harden if not covered extremely well. The sugar can re-crystallize and there can be hard, even sharp, bits of sugar in the icing that is almost impossible to mix back in.
If you can, try to bake your cakes at around 165 C.
My 6-inch round pan is 17 cm. My 8-inch round pan is 20 cm, and the 9-inch round pan is 23 cm. I often talk about using a sheet pan. The measurements are 23 cm x 33 cm.
I'll take your questions one at a time:
(1) The last few cakes I have made have gone soggy in the middle and I don't know why. It is the same with various different recipes (except fruit). My oven is a fan oven and although it is a new oven I have used fan ovens for many years.
That thing that really rang a bell is your words, “new oven”. In the US, new ovens are notoriously off on the temperatures when we receive them at our home. If you can, have the company you bought your oven from, come out and do a temperature check. You can also do it yourself with a good quality oven thermometer.
If it is correct, then you could
try to bake at 165C or Gas Mark
3 or Gas Mark 4. The cake might
dome a bit more but that can
easily be handled.
(2) When cooking time is up the cake smells cooked, the cake probe comes out clean and the top is often cracked.
I don’t have a convection oven (one that blows air while it cooks, but it sounds like the blower might be working to hard. That could cause a crusting on top of the batter before the cake rises. When the cake does rise, it can only grow by cracking that crust. As to the probe coming out clean, the hard crust could be scraping the uncooked filling off. I also wonder about the word “probe”. Many of the newer ovens here in the US, have a metal probe that is connected to the oven via a wire. We poke the probe into the meat or cake, and the probe sends the temp, via the wire, to the oven. The info is readable next to the oven temp. readout.
I prefer using a wooden toothpick (cocktail sticks) when checking whether a cake is baked properly or not. There is something about the fibers of the wood that hold on to the batter or the cake to give the best results.
(3) All indicators to say it is cooked I think and yet upon cutting the cake is heavy in the middle.
This really sounds as if the cake hasn’t finished baking and become light and fluffy yet.
On a recipe that you are really comfortable with, try the suggestions and see if there is a positive change. I’d appreciate it if you’d let me know how it turns out.
Yes, Marzipan does taste great but you have to be a dedicated fan of almonds to enjoy the intensity.
You can cover a cake in either Fondant Icing 101 or Marzipan. Marshmallow Fondant is much easier to work with because it is more pliable and less apt to crack and break as you are trying to put it on the cake. You can always add a few drops of Almond extract to the fondant if you wish to have the Almond flavor.
Another thing you might want to
consider is the cost. To cover an
8-Inch diameter x 3-inch cake in
marzipan, you will need at least two
boxes (7 ounces each) to cover the
cake. In my neighborhood, that is
$16 just for the icing on the
cake. A batch of MM Fondant will
cost about $3.50 and I can cover two
Roland Winbeckler is a genius in this technique. You might want to pick up his book Cake Sculpture and Sculptured Figure Piping. It costs about $13 and is a wealth of knowledge.
I’ve not tried this but here are a few thoughts about making your own.
I would also call Duncan Hines again. You could have gotten someone that was having a very bad day and not helping you properly. My gut feeling is that Duncan Hines has made an inferior batch of this product and is trying to avoid a recall. Other than that, I don’t know. You should never have to “fix” cases of product.
I’ve not made white chocolate roses so I’m only guessing here. I’d try the melts since it is made for molding. You might have better luck.
Cream cheese should be kept chilled - Fondant should not be chilled.
I’m giving you a big sad sigh here, but I’d not combine these options because of the safety factor of the cream cheese and I don’t think that the flavors of the cream cheese icing and the MM Fondant would go well together. Would you consider just using a plain buttercream icing under the fondant? If you really want the cream cheese icing, how about making a grooms cake that would also sit on the table?
time schedule. You
could bake 2 days in advance. After you bake the
cake layers, use a simple sugar syrup wash on the
cake layers (anywhere from 1/2 cup for a 18-inch
layer to one (1) scant 1/4 cup for a 6-inch layer). This
will help to keep the moisture in cake. You can
cover the cake now if the works into you time
schedule. Personally, I
prefer to cover with the fondant icing, the same day as I
bake. Let the cakes sit in a sheltered place over
night. Cover, if not done already and decorate the
next day. That night, keep the cake in an area
of the house that has the fewest drafts, and deliver
the cake on the wedding day.
I haven’t heard of a spray to preserve the fondant. Most of the ladies that I know either put the cakes in glass enclosures to keep the dust and fingers off, or just show their work with pictures.
Since I’m a home baker, I’ve never used the product.
From rereading the quote thought, it sounds like you add additional cornstarch to the Perma Ice in the dry form. If you make a paste with water, you’d be defeating the purpose of trying to dry the product. I’d add a little bit and very gently stir so that I would not add bubbles to the Perma Ice and ten add more if necessary.
Since you have multiple questions I’ll answer them below:
(1) I have just stumbled upon your website...wonderful! I am thinking about beginning the art of cake decorating from my home and have no experience with fondant or gum paste...in fact before reading your questions and answers online I thought gum paste was edible....is there another medium I would find easy to use for edible flowers that yield the same beautiful result?
Gumpaste creates the best results for flowers, and it’s also easy to work with. The flowers are removed simply from the cake before eating. One great thing about the gumpaste flower is that it can be created in white, months in advance, stored in a dry, room temperature, airtight box and then colored as needed.
You can also
make flowers from fondant but it more difficult
and fragile in my opinion. You can, of course,
make buttercream flowers.
(2) Also, would it compromise the integrity and taste of the cake if the cakes were baked a day or two ahead and then refrigerated/frozen before decorating?
If you are
baking only a day or 2 in advance, you would not
want to freeze your cake before decorating. You
would just get the layers frozen and then you
would be taking them out of the freezer to
defrost. Way to much unnecessary work and you
would actually be losing moisture in the whole
(3) Looking for short cuts so that I don't have to do everything in the same day so any advice would be great.
information, like you find in this book, that can help
you make decisions in your baking life. Also,
remember that if you decide to go into the
business, the purchase of a reference book is a
tax write off.
(4) Also, I went to the given link for your homemade fondant recipe that everyone is raving about but could not find it...is it possible to send it to me?
Here is the
link for the MM Fondant at What’s Cooking
America: Fondant Icing 101
I can’t see even one house that is fondant covered. I think it is because the fondant won’t “act” correctly for an extended length of time. Usually if the top level experts don’t do something, then there is a good reason for it.
Nicolas Lodge has a book out, The International School of Sugarcraft Book 1, that tells about using royal icing on a cake. The sides are perfectly flat and level so it is the technique that gives you the fine finish even more than the icing itself.
I do think that the royal icing would break down from the Crisco in the fondant after an extended length of time.
Sorry that I couldn’t help you more with this. Best of luck with your project.
Peggy's Baking Corner Home Page
Check out some of Peggy Weaver's many Cake Decorating Articles, Tutorials, and Q&A pages below.
Buttercream Icing 101
(Recipe and Tutorial on making & using buttercream icing)
Assembling Cakes/Wedding Cakes
Other Cake Baking and Decoration Topics:(The idea page has photos only and no detailed decorating instructions.)