Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Halloween Cake: partial fail

So here's the story of the Halloween cake in two parts.  Part One is the plan and the first steps of success, Part Two is the total failure of the plan and the lame recovery.

The plan was to have a 3 tiered cake with orange and black layers and chocolate frosting.  The outside was going to be covered in purple fondant with a tree and bats painted on the side, and some tombstones and weathered pumpkins to add some 3D ambiance.

Day 1
  • Make all the cakes from scratch and make the double batch of chocolate buttercream frosting from scratch.  This whole thing takes a LOT longer than you would think - damn.

Day 2
  • Cut cakes level, stack, fill layers, coat outside with frosting to make an even surface. 
  • Mix black food coloring gel into white fondant to make gray fondant for the tombstones.  Roll out the fondant, cut and weather the tombstones, write on them with edible marker, and let dry.  
  • Mix the black food coloring gel into clear liquor to make edible paint.  Use the edible paint to weather the pumpkins - paint on and wipe off.

At this point, everything is going fine. See?

OK, here's where the plan falls apart.  First some cake background.   Fondant is the smooth white stuff that covers 90% of the cakes you see on TV.  It tastes like shit, but it makes for pretty cakes.  No one eats it; there is real frosting underneath and that is what people actually eat after they kind of peel off the fondant from their piece of cake.

I've used fondant for decorations but never to cover a cake with.  Pretty much everything in the land of internet cake stuff has the same opinion: homemade marshmallow fondant (mmf) is god's gift to cake world! It tastes so good! It's so easy to make! It's so much easier to cover the cakes with! You'll never go back!

So despite never trying to cover a cake with real fondant to see if it was actually as bad as people think, I went straight for the MMF fondant. FAIL. Epic fail. All of the directions on how to make it are exactly the same.  So I followed the directions and I covered my surfaces, and I kneaded like bread dough, and I kneaded some more, and I rolled out, and I tried again to roll out, and I spent nearly an hour trying not to give up.

Then I gave up.

Then I tweeted my thoughts on MMF - which can be seen to your right, where all of my tweets go.

Except for the argument that it's cheaper to make your own (true), I'm not buying any of the other PR crap out there.  Marshmallow fondant - comprised of marshmallows and confectioners sugar until you get a dough - still tastes like shit! And even if it had worked out, I didn't see how the consistency was any different (except worse) from the regular stuff.

So, despite my visions of how pretty my black painted tree would have looked on my purple fondant background, I gave up and choose sanity over beauty.  It was so sad.  To have spent so many hours in the kitchen and so much physical pain (b/c I have a weak body and am not meant to do physical things for long periods of time like regular people can) to not get what you set out to, sucked. 

On a positive note - which I'm forcing myself to find - you can see in the first picture below that the cake is perfectly round without any tilting, and that the top is perfectly flat.  That's harder to achieve than you'd think, and is the result of practice, so it's good that the effort is paying off.

I have every intention of trying again with regular fondant to see if I can successfully cover a cake with it, so when I actually follow through on that I'll keep you posted.  In the meantime, I ended up with a regularly frosted cake with nice layers and some random decorations on top.  At least it tasted good.


1 comment:

die Frau said...

I think it is very pretty. And yeah, fondant usually tastes like crap. My friend M has used fondant successfully; perhaps I can ask her her secret.

p.s. You're already WAY more ambitious than I am in terms of cakes.

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