Posts filed under: ‘Fondant‘

Harry Harry Potter

I’m a little too obsessed with Harry Potter for a gal who is well out of grade school.  And I’ve been waiting for someone to request a Harry Potter themed cake for some time. Sure I have the ambition to make a Horcrux themed cake just for the Hell of it, but staying up all night working on a cake with no party to bring it to, is like getting all dressed up on a Saturday night with no where to go.

I’d planned a recipe to accompany this cake, but I didn’t have time to make butter beer in addition to this cake, so instead I’ll focus on technique.  I haven’t really focused on a lesson in technique in awhile.  Mostly because after teaching 500 people the basic principles of cake decorating I know its important to have a teacher demonstrating, otherwise we all would have just read a book on decorating and figured it out.

This year when my friend Peter’s daughter Madeline asked for a Harry Potter themed cake, I was obviously thrilled and seeing as I’m goingto focus on the decorating part in this post, I’ll mention a few tricks I’ve learned in the year since the last birthday Madeline celebrated.

The last birthday cake I made for Madeline was topped with a Pegasus.  Of course I refused to just pipe one on a square sheet cake which would have totally been a big hit still. Instead I choose to sculpted a winged horse, and though the party guests thought it was cool, I was a bit unsatisfied with my results. So here are a few tips on working with gum paste and fondant, when it comes to crazy cakes.

Lets break it down here is what you have to work with when it comes to sculpting toppers, and decorations:

FONDANT: There are lots of kinds of Fondant.  If you’ve read my Marshmallow Fondant post from last year, than perhaps you experimented with different types already.  With the popularity of cake decorating shows ready-made fondant is easy to find in craft stores, as well as on the internet.  True traditional fondant known as “European Fondant” is boiled sugar that is then cooled and folded (fondre in French means “to fold” rendering the name Fondant).  As its folded it continues to cool and become white.  There are lots of alternative recipes to making European Fondant at home.  Its actually a bit dangerous, as you run the risk of burning yourself.  You might come across some resipes for Rolled Fondant which contain gelatin, sugar, and crisco and sometimes cornsyrup.  I’m sure this is a great alternative, but I have yet to try it out.

GUM PASTE: is also a sugar dough.  It contains gum usually tagacanth gum, talose, or karaya gum to add strength.  You can make it at home without the risk of third degree burns.  At some point I’ll put a recipe up here, thats easy to make and works well– It will also save you the cost of buying ready-made.

I should also mention that Gum paste is also referred to as Pastilliage, or Sugar Paste. These are similar, recipes vary a little but really they are the same thing.

MARZIPAN Before the Ace of Cakes and Extreme Cake Challenges there was Marzipan.  This is a sugar dough used for sculpting and its made from almonds.  I’ve used it once or twice– I’m not proficient in it, but it bares mentioning. And if you are interested you can find lots of intriguing books on marzipan sculpting.

Modeling Chocolate is also an option when decorating, but lets stay focused on the sugar doughs.


They can be interchanged depending on the project.  Other times you must use one and Not the other.

Fondant is used to cover cakes, NEVER Gumpaste.

If you are using Fondant to add ribbons, or a bow to a cake– or any relatively thin design that needs a little strength — more than what typical fondant can offer, you can use only gum paste or add gum paste to the fondant.  A 50 /50 ratio is good. your design will begin to take shape and dry faster with gum paste added.

Gum Paste is best for delicate designs. Its added strength means that you can roll it out very very thin, pull it, vein it, feather it, and it doesn’t tear.  Or at least it doesn’t tear and rip the way Fondant can.  Beware as gum paste fades in color while it dries, approximately 2-3 shades.

Fondant and Gum Paste will both dry hard, but fondant takes a lot longer to do so.

Sculpting: In my experience fondant is best.  I realize that there are folks who might argue, but to each their own.  The Pegasus topper I made just one year ago is a perfect example of why fondant is better for sculpted pieces.  I’m sure you can see in alot of pictures that the body of horse was smooth and sturdy– made from fondant.  The legs crumbled and continued to crumble no matter what– worsening as time when on– they were made from gum paste.

The big factors in sculpting are:

1.What are you making? A rubber duck, a shoe, a sewing machine, a rose. If its thin and delicate use gum paste, otherwise use fondant.

2. Make sure your design can adequately dry on undisturbed propped up or balanced in a way the design won’t sag or get dented.

3. what kind of fondant are you using?

Wilton Fondant is great for Sculpting. It is a bit drier than other fondants, without quite as much elasticity.  It has a reputation in the world of fondant for having one of the more unpopular flavors, but its great for sculpting.  Duff’s Fondant on the other hand is far more elastic. Its flavor is a little more vanilla infused.  And there are chocolate and lemon flavors to choose from.  I highly recommend this brand to novice for covering cakes as its stretches and stretches and stretches without tearing.

So lets get the the nitty gritty.  You can’t have a Harry Potter cake without a snitch.  So I’ll walk you through how I went about sculpting this important feature.

First I pinched off a piece of fondant and began to roll it into a ball.  About golf ball size.  The longer you roll the more the seams and wrinkles in your fondant will disappear.  Try your best to make a spherical shape.  You want to beable to view your cake from all angles so if you snitch is really lumpy on one side, your work won’t look as good.  Let the ball set.  I find the best way is to insert a toothpick in the bottom center.  Dipping the tooth pick in a little vanilla extract will ensure the snitch doesn’t slide, as it dries and it makes for an easy way to paint and insert the snitch into the cake later.

If you do your detailed work under a warm light I suggest setting the tooth pick into foam and setting in a cool place away from a hot lamp.  This allows your design to dry quicker.

Now for the wings.  I rolled out a thin sheet of fondant, though reading all my rules above– gum paste would have done the trick. Like I said Wilton fondant is a little drier and can stand in in some cases.  my small sheet of fondant was less than 1/16″ of an inch thick.  If you use a Wilton 9″ rolling pin it comes with bands that help you make proper measurements.

I cut 4 wing shapes with a flower petal cuter.  Always make extra for the delicate pieces to save from breakage. On a thin piece of shaping foam I “balled” the edges of each wing.  Using a balling tool press slightly into the edge of the wing as you move around the edge of the shape.  This is important: the balling tool should be half on the wing’s edge, half on the foam.  As you trace the shape you’ll notice the edge thins and rises off the foam.  (Use a little powdered sugar on the foam and balling tool to save the sugar dough from sticking.)

I left the center and one of the pointed ends of the wing alone, so that it  remained thick enough to insert a short piece of floral wire.  2-3″ inches of thin floral wire dipped in clear vanilla will remain relatively hidden inside the wing and will allow you to assemble your snitch when you are finished. Weave it through and try to keep it from poking through.

I then used a veining tool (the larger end) to create a ruffle.  Hold the veining tool like a pencil. Press down on edge of the wing and pull away from the wing and in toward your chest. Continue to make indentations consecutively around the under side of the wing.  You are using the heel of the vein tool, to press on the edge. Don’t curl your wrist as you do it, else the point of the veiner will pierce the dough.

I then used the viening tool to make impressions laterally across the wing. to create a texture.

Allow the wings to rest on a flower former or the corner of a cookie sheet.  This allows a natural shape to set.

When your ball and wings are relatively dry, paint with color food paint.  I used my Americolor air brush paint.  My airbrushes (Both of them!!) are not working else I would have just sprayed the pieces. A soft paint brush does a great job as well.  Paint one side of the leaves and allow to dry, (15 minutes should be good), then paint the other side.  Hold the ball by the tooth pick to paint all sides.  Allow your pieces to set completely.– Using fondant for the ball piece ensures that the piece will still be soft enough to assemble hours later.

Insert the wings into the sides of the ball.  Make any touch ups needed after adhering to your cake.


2 comments January 25, 2011

Duff’s Stuff

Who doesn’t load up their DVR with the best of the cake decorating shows: The Cake Boss, Amazing Wedding Cakes, and those crazy cake challenges.  Well not only is Duff Goldberg bring culinary prowess into your living room, but now you can have his culinary tools in your kitchen.

Chef Duff

Chef Goldberg also known as the Ace of Cakes has recently come out with a line of frosting, fondant, and all sorts of baking pans, spatulas and other eccutraments that can be found in the aisles of your favorite craft store.  So heres the skinny ( in my humble opinion) of some of the new the products he recently debuted.


Its great to find large quantities of pre colored fondant available in a local store.   It can be frustrating to send away for Satin Ice or other professional Fondant.  Wilton is readily available in Michaels and other craft stores. Many people dislike the taste of the Wilton brand.  I won’t comment on the taste of Wilton (since I’m a Wilton Instructor and use it  daily) but I can say Duff’s Fondant has a mild flavor, and the availability of a 2 lbs container of say red or black Fondant is Great!  We all know how difficult it can be to dye your own fondant or frosting for that matter and actually achieve Red or black.  Also having it in a resealable/ reusable plastic container is very convienent.

I'm so happy this is available in large quantities and in local stores!

The elasticity of this fondant is EXCELLENT!!!!  I used the bright pink fondant on a cake just this past weekend.  Its important to roll your fondant out to 1/6- 1/8 of an inch thick to avoid tears.  I was convinced at one point I’d have a tear and have to start over, but Duff’s Fondant just kept stretching.  Stretch-ability is important to avoid tears and wrinkles and this Fondant has it!!

A birthday cake, featuring Duff's Fondant, for my god daughter

Cake Tattoos!

Super fun!  You can find all sorts of stencils and edible stickers to adhere to your fondant or frosting should you want to avoid handing painting or piping.   These cake tatoos have a Charm City spin with leopard print and Skull-n-Cross bones.  They include tracers for cupcake toppers.  Keep in mind that the photo you see on the packaging is exactly what you get– two  long stripes to go around the sides of your cake and a 4″ circle for the top.  If you have plans to use these decals on a bigger cake, make sure you get enough to do the job.


Not to sound like a total snob, but I make my own.  I accidentally purchase the frosting misreading the label– thinking it was a 5lbs. container of white buttercream fondant. I did however take advantage of my mistake and tast test the frosting and used it to cover a cake.  The texture is medium consistency– great most piping and frosting, and crusts quickly.  And the taste is great too.  It actually tastes like buttercream, not store bought, so if you are in a pinch I recommend this short cut.

Decorative wires

I thought this was a great idea to make available in stores. Lots of hobbiest/ amateur  decorators try to encorporate this design into their work but using wire and subsequently bending and twisting  wiring properly can be a challenge– and they don’t teach this in your average class.  Why not sell ’em cut and curled?

decorative curled wire

All in all Duff’s stuff is great quality and will definetly be found in my cabinets and on my cakes!

2 comments May 28, 2010

Fondant Roses

Here is a simple and easy way to make fondant roses without using cutters or any sort of shaping tools, just your finger tips.  I led this exercise with a big group of girls scouts and it was very popular!! Enjoy!

I wanted to do a quick recap of a great event I was honored to be apart of.  the Girls Scouts of Westchester Hosted their First Annual Mother Daughter Event this past February 6th.

Over 130 Moms and Daughters joined in to decorate Valentine’s Day Cupcakes, Made their very own truffles and event sculpted roses out of Fondant.  I had a great time leading various introductory exercises in Cake and Candy Decoration!!

RECIPE RECAP: Most of these reciepes are listed on this blog already, so below you will find a links to the original directions (in light pink script) as well a quick recap of what we did at the GS Event.  Enjoy!!

Oreo Cookie Truffles

1  package of Oreos

1 brick (8oz) cream cheese softened

16 oz (1  standard package) semi sweet chocolate

1-2 tbsp shotening

Grind oreos in a food processor until they are a fine crumb.  Add soft cream cheese.  Roll into 1″ diameter balls and place on wax or parchment paper.  For best results refridgerate for one hour.

In a double boiler or microwave melt semisweet chocolate and shortening.  Chocolate burns easily!!!!!  In microwave you should heat for 30 seconds then mix.  Repeat until chocolate is smooth.

Dip chilled truffles in chocolate one at a time.  For best results use a plastic fork for the dipping.  Break off the 2 inside tines of the fork and balance the truffle on the two outer times to remove the truffles from the choolate.

Place on Wax or parchment lined trays and refridgerate.  For an added touch finish with a colored chocolate.  I suggest using Wilton Candy Melts.

They are available in a variety of colors and are easily melted in the microwave.  Pour into a plastic Pastry bag withWilton Tip One on the end to make a drizzled design on your finished truffles. Place in miniature cupcake cups or candy cups.

Marshmellow Fondant

1 bag mini marshmellows (get the name brand not the generic there is a distinct difference in the way the fondant sets up with the more expensive marshmellows)

4 Tbsp of water

2 lbs. of Confectioner’s Sugar

1/2 cup Shortening

Melt marshmellows and water in a double boiler.  You can also use the microwave to melt and mix in short spurts of time.  Do not overcook!!  Marshmellows should look bright white and foamy when done right.

If you have a couter top mixer grease the accompanying bowl with shortening.  Add the melted marshmellows and Confectioner’s Sugar and use the dough hook to need into a dough.

If you are kneading my hand stir in a few cups of confectioner’s sugar, then grease your hand with a generouse layer of shortening and begin kneading.  Fondant will form a into a strong ball of dough with a little elbow grease.  Fondant can be dyed with regular food coloring.  I recomend gel base food coloring (Betty Crocker makes a gel base colors found in most grocery stores, or you can use Wilton Color.) Add a few drops of the color of your choice and knead.  Wearing glove to keep your fingers color free is recommended.

***To store Fondant cover with a thin cover of shortening and seal (AIR TIGHT!!!!) in a plastic bag or with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.  Fondant dries and hardens when exposed to air so it it important that you keep what you are not using covered at all times.

4 comments March 1, 2010

A Tease

Its been a pretty busy week for me. I had a big concert at the theatre I manage–my real job, many of my students had to bringing in their first cakes this week, and the holidays are just around the corner. Wow.

At some point this week I found a few minutes at my local Target store, to purchase  a few small things, one of which included Madonna’s new CD Celebration.   I figured I needed some upbeat motivational dance music, and after all I like that new single. 

What I didn’t realize is the track on the double disc CD is not the radio edit.  Isn’t that always such a let down!  The single you’d love to play on repeat isn’t actually on the album, and instead theres the first draft of the song?

Its like a blog without pictures!

Ahh thats better.

So what does this have to do with Fondant?  Well almost nothing except that this recipe was also just a tease.  In doing some exploring and going through various recipes for Fondant, I came across a ButterCream Fondant Recipe and was excited.  It seemed easy to make and perhaps it would offer a better flavor than the store bought (just about everyone I know HATES the taste of store bought.) And Buttercream Fondant is known to have a natural shine. Mmm sign me up!  


See how shiney?

Oh but I spoke too soon.  This Fondant kinda sucks!  The only ingredient it includes thats different than Buttercream Frosting is Corn Syrup.  Now Corn Syrup being a liquid seems like a strange ingredient variation, considering that its the reason that this frosting goes from a stiff liquid to a dough.  Buttercream Fondant is easy to roll out, and is shiney.  The corn syryp continually rises to the top of the surface adding a sheen to the fondant.  It also doesn’t dry out like your typical store bought fondant or Marshmellow fondant  So its nice not having to compulsively cover the dough when you’re not working with it.



Its difficult however to roll this dough out without using tons of powdered sugar to keep the fondant from sticking.  The more sugar you add the harder it is to keep the dough from cracking and falling apart.  

All in all this recipe was kind of a let down.  I had to re-roll the dough several times as it continually just craked and broke off my poor cooperative cake.  Even after I finally got it to stick the dough looked like there were lots of pox marks in it…Eww.  The recipe is below and I encourage anyone to try it, make me look like a complainer who just had a bad day with a new recipe, and should have just bought the song she wanted on iTunes. 

Butter Cream Fondant

1 cup shortening

1 cup corn syrup

1 tsp clear vanilla extract

2 lbs powdered sugar

1/2 tsp of fine salt

Mix the shortening, syrup, extract and salt until well combined.  Add sugar until you have a moldable dough.  


Add a comment November 15, 2009

Up and Coming…

Here are some Posts you can look forward to this week:

Les Croissants— In honor of my halloween costume this year I’ve ben trying to attempt (and they have been several) to make great homemade Croissants.  This french pastry is no walk in the park.

ButterCream Fondant— I’m asked all the time if there are alternatives to the store bought fondant found in most craft stores.  Click on the Marshmellow recipe I posted last month or try this easy recipe for a shiney fondant.

Biscotti— I just recieved my advanced copy of Vegan Cookies Invade Your Jar.  I’ll go through a few traditional recipes and give you my review of some non-diary, no-egg options.

Apple Pie— Thanksgiving is in a few short weeks, and as the leaves continue to change and fall from the trees the Apple Picking season is ending soon.  Stay tuned for a great German Apple Pie recipe.

Pin Up CupCakes— A little recipe inspired by my favorite pin-up of all time–Marilyn Monroe.

Add a comment November 9, 2009

World Series Won, Part Two


Mariano Rivera in the Bull Pen

So when it comes to fondant there are a couple important rules.  First it dries out and you should always cover what you are not using with a thin layer of shortening and seal tightly with plastic wrap.


Adding any geometric design to a cake will point out any flaws in a second. So make sure if you are adding fondant stripes, checkers, circles etc that you are starting with a level even cake!!  

Also understand your medium.  The cake is covered in fondant.  The pin stripes are  also made from fondant.  The delicate logo in the center is made from a mixture of fondant and gumpaste, ideally 50: 50 fondant and gum paste.  Fondant always covers cakes, never Gumpaste.  Delicate designs should always include gumpaste for strength. 

If you want those pin stripes to look right you need some good tools.  First a straight edge and a sharp blade.  DSCN0829

A rolling mat can help you place any stripes in an even fashion.  Don’t trust yourself with straight lines quite yet??  Here are a couple of ideas:


As good as an Airbrush

Wilton makes a product called “Color Spray.”  Its an aerosol spray that replicates an air brush effect and can really help give a finishing touch to any cake, even just by adding some depth in color.  Notice the edge of the cake above.  I don’t recommend using the black color Spray– but experiment on your own.


You can make a really dramatic look on your cake by swirling the color in your fondant.  This can be achieved in a couple ways.  First you can take white fondant and twist it with pre colored fondant, both of which you can find on craft store shelves.  For a more dramatic effect take white fondant and add some gel based food coloring.


Wear gloves to ensure you don’t get this all over you hands.  Twist and kneed and roll out and your will have a Marbled effect in minutes.  End up looking like an stunt double for Papa Smurf??  Do a load of dirty dishes. It will take away all that dye in just a few minutes.  


Add a comment November 7, 2009

Back in Black or I’ve Been Living Under a Rock Part Three

I suppose starting a blogging and posting every other day and then just slacking off and ignoring it for weeks is kind lame huh??  

Yeah I think so too.  In a nutshell without getting too personal are the reasons:

My real job is crazy busy and my boyfriend and I might have broken up.  Its hard to conjure up art without a muse…I mean taste-tester and the bills gotta get paid.  I also  purchased one of those Jet Blue Unlimited All-You-Can-Jet-Passes, (hey some girls cut their hair short in a break-up, I on the other hand go find a beach and some long lost friends) so I’ve been setting off to Florida, California, and Texas lately, and have ignored this page all together.

Back to reality.

I did this cake like a month ago, in response to that cake contest I found out about all too late.  My most impressive work? No. But totally me…YES! Lets put it out there.  I’m a Taurus, a stubborn, opinionated, loyal, horned …sweetheart.  And when I saw the different designs you could pick from to participate in this contest, a soft part of my heart went for this design. Had I found out sooner about this contest I would have totally chosen something far more complex, and actually entered but as they say, “it just wasn’t meant to bee…”


So in addition to some photos, why not a recipe?  Below is a recipe for Marshmellow Fondant.  Now I’ve got a few things to say about Fondant:

First off, Fondant pronounced Fahn. Dahnt, or as many of us say “Fawndint” is in fact a French word.  Its not another term for fondue, its not called “fondantine”, or any other hybrid of something that sounds fancy.

I’ve been watching The Cake Boss a bit lately.  Buddy pronounces Fondant correctly.  So if you want to pronounce it right say it like him…Fahn Dahnt…with or without that New York/ Jersey accent … I suppose that would be me cawlling the kettle black, now wouldn’t it?


“Fondant” actually stems from the word “Fondre” which in French means “to fold.”  Actual real bakery-made Fondant is made by boiling sugar to just under a temperature that would render it hard candy.  The oozing hot lava liquid is poured out onto a marble or metal slab and allowed to cool slightly.  Then begins the process of scooping the gel substance and folding it on to itself.  As the mixture cools as its folded it becomes white and eventually resembles the white sugar paste we all know and …have become quite frustrated with from time to time.

I don’t recommend any novice try making fondant at home as you could seriously burn yourself.  BUT you can try this easy recipe to attain a good stand in.

Marshmellow Fondant for some people has a more desirable taste.  Is easy to make, not to mention way cheaper than store bought fondant.  In the end, its not as strong as authentic fondant, but you might scarcely be able to differentiate.  Worse case scenario mix this with the real stuff and your cake will turn out as good as ever. Heres how it goes:

1 bag (16oz) mini marshmallows

4 TBSP of water.

2lbs. confectioner’s sugar

1/2 c shortening

Melt marshellows with water in a double boiler till fluffy and liquidy.  Stir regularly until you can not longer see lumps– but be careful not to let cook too long.  If mixture has a translucent quality you’ve over cooked. PICT0577

Pour in to a bowl and let cool slightly.  Add 1 cup confectioners sugar (4 cups total by the end) and begin to stir. After 1-1/2c cups have been added, coat your dominant hand in shortening and begin needing mixture by hand adding more sugar continuously.

PICT0578After lots of sugar you will (I promise) get a dough substance.  And you’ll have Pop-Eye forearms to prove it.


Once you’ve achieved the dough consistency, you can refridgerate and save for a couple of weeks.  If you are preparing for a big project make your fondant in advance coat with a layer of crisco and then wrap air tight in plastic wrap and place in the fridge.  Remember both bakery fondant and Marshmallow Fondant dry out in the air, so make sure you keep what you are not using covered at all times.

PICT0587When rolling out fondant make sure your surface is well coated with shortening.  Roll out as evenly as possible, starting from the center working outward evenly.  Roll out no thinner than an eighth of an inch.  If you roll your fondant too thin it will tear once on the cake and be wrinkly.

PICT0588Smoothing Fondant onto a cake takes practice.  Make sure you’ve rolled enough to fully cover all sides.  (By the way you still have to frost the cake with icing before you put fondant on it!) Starting at 12 o’clock pull the edge of the fondant up at you smooth the fondant against the cake.  Then go to 6 o’clock and do the same.  Go to 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock until the fondant is smooth and adhered to the cake and all the wrinkles have been pushed to the edges. Cut off the excess and you’re done!

3 comments October 14, 2009

Purse Cakes

The almighty purse cake!!! Super popular.  As seen on Amazing Wedding Cakes via the Cake Girls of Chicago.  I can’t knock a girl who decides to have cake center pieces at her bridal shower.  As the former  MoH (Maid of Honor)  in my best friend’s wedding… I choose a far more complicated cake project for the shower…mini wedding cakes anyone?? a blog will follow.


Here’s my ode to the almighty arm bag.  These are Betsey Johnson replicas (hey be sure to include that second ‘e’ or you might find a scarier picture ahhhhhhhh!!!!! Those are some glasses!!!!!).

PICT0318These cakes were inspired by my friend Rachel, who was the recieptient of this birthday cake.    Since becoming a total cake dork, I am now somewhat expected to show up to most engagements with a cake in hand.  When it comes to birthdays, I like my cake to be inspired by the personality of the friend I’m baking for.  Rachel is the proud owner of this one Betsey Johnson creation and a fashionista in her own right, and fabulous all around.


Check out the Student Work Page.  You’re bound to find some other niffty hand bag instpirations, if not some great up and coming Cake decorators.

1 comment August 8, 2009

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The Cake Eccentric

Sugar, Frosting, and Fondant: an artistic exploration of Cake and other Sweets