Woohoo! I got so many compliments on my last batch of cupcakes that I worked up the courage to try my hand at fondant. I've been stockpiling cutters and glitter and color and all sorts of fun and exciting tools, but I was too afraid to actually make the fondant and use them. I used a box strawberry cake mix and these two frosting recipes:
1. This buttercream frosting with butter instead of shortening. It was the first time I had made buttercream and the first time I can remember eating it, and it was much better than I expected.
2. This marshmallow fondant tutorial. I found that I only needed to use about 3/4 of the two pound bag of confectioner's sugar, and the fondant was very workable.
Without further ado, here are the pictures!
It didn't turn out as smooth and nice as I would have hoped, but I think it's pretty okay for a first try. Here are some things that I want to remember for next time (and that might be helpful to others). If you have any input on the problems I encountered, please let me know!
1. On cake flattening: I flopped the cakes upside down onto a sheet of wax paper after they came out of the oven and put cookie sheets on top to help flatten their puffy tops. It worked pretty well, but there was a bit of puffiness left. The 1/4" thick coating of buttercream helped a little.
2. On frosting: As you can see from the last picture, the slices were not very picturesque when cut because there wasn't too much frosting in the middle. I was trying to cut down on frosting content (because a middle layer of frosting, a layer of buttercream and a layer of fondant seemed like a frosting overload), but I think I will put more frosting in the middle layer next time to make it prettier. To me, fondant is used for occasions where the cake has to be super pretty, and I don't think it wound up so sweet that a little extra frosting in the middle will hurt too much.
3. On glitter: You might not be able to see it in the pictures, but I tried to spread on some white frosting glitter. The marshmallow fondant was extremely easy to work with and I managed to get it on the cake with very few problems. I had one of those fondant smoothers that I used to smooth it out until it looked pretty nice. Then I tried to spread on some of the glitter, and boy did it not work. I used a soft artist's brush (like it recommends on the package), but it left all these streaks of sparkle on the cake. I spent a ridiculously long time trying to spread more and more sparkle on so that it would not be so streaky, but it still looked pretty bad, and the surface of the cake got more and more messed up. I spread it around a little with the fondant smoother and my hand, which helped a little, but by then the surface of the fondant was pretty messed up and the smoothing didn't really help. I figured it was already messed up enough that I would try the other method of glitter application--I poured out a little bit of lemon juice and sprinkled some glitter in. That brushed on pretty okay (though I'm not sure how it would look without the "base coat" of dry glitter I put on). I don't think I'm going to use glitter again, but if I need/really want to, I think I'll put it in a small amount of lemon juice first (about 1 tablespoon should be plenty).
4. On shapes: Toward the end of it I was getting tired of the whole ordeal, so I kind of rushed the stars/ribbon. I would like to figure out how to remove the seams from applying the ribbon (look at the last picture, to the left of where the slice was taken out). I tried rubbing it with a little water, but that didn't seem to do much, and I was too tired to try much else. The stars are slightly misshapen too, but I think that could easily be corrected by being more careful--I just wanted to be done. I think I'll roll the fondant out much thinner for the decorations, maybe 1/8".
5. On time: It took forever, definitely an all-day project. Maybe it gets quicker when you're more used to it, but it took me quite a while. I was getting careless at the end (with the decorations, which is arguably the most important part), and the green fondant shapes didn't come out as nice as I was hoping. I was bored and tired with the whole thing, so I think next time I'll just space it out more. Start the cakes in the morning, make the frosting, let it sit until I really feel like working on it. Maybe space it out over a second day. I definitely recommend cutting shapes and doing the actual decorated when you've taken a long enough break that you're excited about making it look nice.
Gah! I can't believe I typed all that. I need to go collapse somewhere.