Ten days ago (that would be 8 March 2011) was a very auspicious day. It was the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day (go us!), and it was also Pancake Tuesday/Mardi Gras. AND. And. It was my birthday. I turned TWENTY-NINE. Holy smokes. That’s a prime number.
This is very loosely based on a cupcake the Pie and I made for our own wedding back in August 2009. The cupcake itself came from Susannah Blake’s Cupcake Heaven, but I think I’ve sufficiently changed this so I can call this recipe all my own.
Some of this stuff you can do ahead of time, like the fondant and the buttercream icing, and just put them in the fridge until you need them.
For the Cake:
Remove the pans to racks to cool completely.
For the Fondant:
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, whip together 3 teaspoons vanilla, 1 cup butter, softened but not melted, and 1 cup corn syrup. If you want your fondant to be white, use the light corn syrup, as the dark stuff I used gave the fondant a creamy complexion.
When the mixture is creamy and fluffy, reduce the speed to low and add 1kg icing sugar, a bit at a time. If you do it all at once, or if you do it on high, you will get a mushroom cloud of icing sugar everywhere.
Tip it out onto some waxed paper and knead it into a ball. If your dough is too tacky you might find that you want to add more icing sugar. To do this simply dust a work surface with icing sugar and knead it in.
For the Buttercream Icing:
Remove the icing and the fondant from the refrigerator and bring them to room temperature.
Slice off the round top of each cake, if you care about such things. I didn’t, because I wanted the top to be rounded slightly, and so I flipped one cake upside down and put the two flat sides together. Cut each cake in half horizontally.
Spread a crumb coat of buttercream on your cake (just a thin layer to trap the crumbs) and place the cake in the refrigerator for 15 minutes until the icing has set. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and use the remaining buttercream to smooth out the surface. Chuck it in the refrigerator again until the second layer of icing is set.
While the cake is chilling, roll out your fondant on a surface dusted with icing sugar or corn starch. You will want to roll it to about 1/4″ thick. Any thinner and you will be able to see the flaws in the cake through it. Any thicker and you will have trouble stretching it properly. Make sure to take off your rings and watches while you do this so you don’t mar the fondant surface.
To determine the surface area you will be covering, measure the height and width of your cake. You will need to create a round surface of fondant that is a diameter of twice the height plus the width of your cake.
Gently lift the flattened fondant over your rolling pin and use it as a lever to help you lay the fondant over your chilled cake. I found that approach didn’t work for me, and I had to try several different methods before I found one that worked. I rolled it out over waxed paper and used the waxed paper to do the transfer. The only problem is that my waxed paper was too narrow and I had to double it, which resulted in it leaving a line on the fondant. I will have to find some industrial-width waxed paper for next time.
Using your hands, gently lift and press the fondant into the sides of your cake after smoothing the top. Don’t pull on the fondant or it will crack — lift instead and flatten out the wrinkles with the palm of your hand. It may seem counter-intuitive, but you’ll see what I mean when you do it. Notice the strong colour resemblance between my hand hand the fondant? Yes, I am pale and pasty and spring can’t come soon enough.
Trim off excess fondant at the base of the cake. Otherwise you will have a cake that resembles a demented jellyfish. Or some bizarre prehistoric alien life form that may slowly yet inexorably expand, engulfing your family, your house, and then the entire planet. THE THING THAT TIME FORGOT.
There are such things as fondant smoothers that you can use to even out the fondant surface. I didn’t have one, so I used a flat-sided plastic cup. And that excess icing sugar or corn starch on the surface? Don’t worry about it. It will either come off by itself in the course of you smoothing and shaping, or you can wipe it off with a wet finger.It’s far from perfect, but quite impressive for a first attempt, if I do say so myself.
You can also freehand other elements out of the leftover fondant, as you see I did here. You can also store the scraps in the fridge in an airtight container, just in case you want them for something else later.