The first cake on the list for my New Years Cake Resolution was Hubby’s birthday cake. I didn’t have any grand plans, just a round cake covered in fondant (plastic icing/ready to roll icing) with a few decorations stuck on the outside.
Using my trusty Bible – the Planet Cake book, I followed the recipe for the chocolate mud cake and then followed the directions on how to handle the fondant and how to cover the cake.
Here’s some photos from the process:
Cocoa and flour waiting to be sifted
Baked cake cut into 3 ready to be doused in syrup then sandwiched together with ganache. Mmm, more chocolate
The sandwiched cake on the board. Next step is to trim any of the overhanging bits to make sure that the cake is the same size as the board
Ganache covered cake. This is the first of many ganache steps and probably one of the most important (and possibly most time consuming) steps in making fondant covered cakes. If the cake is not ganached smooth here, the covered cake won’t have a smooth finish. The first time I put it on, it’s purely to cover and fill any holes and make the sides level. I liken it to plastering or filling wall holes with filler. I put it on nice and thick, but smooth off any excess. I then stick it in the freezer for no more than 20 minutes to set the ganache (or if you have time, you can leave it overnight to set). In the meantime, I boil the kettle and pour a mug of boiling water. Once the 20 minutes is up, I bring the cake out of the freezer and dip a cranked palette knife into the hot water and trim off any jaggered pieces of ganache off and smooth out the ganache.
Wait for the areas where the hot knife has touched to dry and add another layer of ganache, this time only a small thin layer, paying particular attention to areas that are not particularly smooth or level.
I realised early into kneading the fondant, it wasn’t as easy as it looks on the YouTube videos. Fondant doesn’t like humidity much. I just couldn’t get the balance right between warm sticky fondant and dry cracking fondant from adding too much cornflour to stop it sticking on the bench. And trying to knead 1.5kg of fondant on the kitchen bench when you’re not very tall is not an easy task! I have since put in the request to Hubby, that when we finally buy our own house and can afford to do it, I want an adjustable height bench top!! It needs to be adjustable as Hubby is 6ft 4 and I’m only a measly 5ft (Waah!)
Edit: I’ve since learned that if you buy good quality fondant (like Bakels) it makes your life so much easier
So after maybe an hour of kneading and trying to roll out fondant, I got it as thin as I could and not too thin that I that I couldn’t lift it without it tearing off the bench or off the rolling pin and I was left with fondant that was nearly a centimetre thick in some places. And because I wasn’t too confidant about placing the fondant on the cake, I just pretty much threw it on and was left with a few air pockets. You can just see the pin-holes on the top of the cake where I pierced the fondant with a needle to try and release the pocket and smooth it out.
In the Planet Cakes book, their race car cake had black, yellow and red race cars decorating the sides of the cake, but I thought that was a little too intricate for me, for my first fondant cake, so I just used some cookie cutters of a car and a motorbike for car and bike mad Hubby. Plus I didn’t have any gel colours to colour the icing the dark shades or red and yellow (I had bought some black icing), all I had was some liquid food colouring from the supermarket, hence all the pastel blue, green and orange.
And with some letters cut out with some alphabet cutter and following the Planet Cake decoration idea with the chequered flag, Hubby’s birthday cake is finished!