Practice Makes Perfect

Perfection is something I often strive for while cooking or baking. I often have such grand visions of what the final product will be while doing the work, that I am completely bummed out when reality doesn’t meet my expectations. As I have gotten more experience in the kitchen, however, I have tried to remind myself that practice makes perfect and there will always be a second chance for me to perfect my creations. Cooking should be fun and getting upset over the mishaps (burnt cheesecake to recall a recent one) never amounts to much fun at all.

That was definitely the lesson I kept in mind as I set out on my first experience using fondant to decorate a cake. I knew the end result would never be perfect but I was pleased with myself for even trying and in the end, making a pretty decent cake.

To start I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for Tender Lemon Cake.

Cake

Creaming together the butter & sugar for the lemon cake

Sorry, I did not take any pictures of the cakes once they came out of the oven but I will tell you that I baked three round 6 inch cakes. I only used two in the actual final cake because I was nervous about making the cake too tall on my first attempt to cover in fondant (plus my brother was bugging me for some).

Perhaps I was trying to channel Martha Stewart in hopes that my cake would come out better, because I used another one of Martha Stewart’s recipes – Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

Buttercream

Beating together sugar & egg whites

Now, I don’t know why I didn’t look at how much the recipe made (10 1/2 cups) but the fact that it called for NINE sticks of butter should have tipped me off. I have enough buttercream in my fridge to decorate an entire wedding cake!

Butter

Cut up butter for buttercream frosting

Once the cakes were cooling and I was finished making the buttercream, it was time to use the fondant. I bought pre-made Wilton’s fondant and used icing dye to make it a gorgeous lavender hue.

fondant

Rolling out the lavender fondant


covered

Covered Cake

As you can see it’s not the best looking cake. I had some issues with tearing & trying to make the sides smooth (there was a lot of excess that bunched along the sides)

Here are some tips I will keep in mind next time I work with fondant:

1. Use less buttercream on top (hence the bumps on top)

2. Roll fondant out a bit thinner

3. Let buttercream set before placing fondant on top (I was too impatient)

4. Smooth fondant to the bottom of the cake plate once placed on top, then cut off excess. Hopefully this will prevent some of the bunching & rippling.

piece

Piece of cake πŸ˜‰

Okay, not really that easy but here is the cake as it was being served for our Mother’s Day dinner. I was supposed to decorate more with buttercream and gum paste flowers but ran out of time!

The most important part, though, is that the cake tasted wonderful! The cake itself had a hint of lemon and was light and moist and the buttercream, although very sweet on its own, was mellowed out by its lemony companion. Needless to say I will be using both recipes again.

Along with the baking & fondant practice I practiced making some decorations with gum paste.

Gumpaste

Can you guess what this is?

It needs to be painted and fixed up a little bit to really be able to tell what it’s supposed to be.

All of this baking and decorating is really getting me excited for the big surprise I have planned coming up in the next couple of months! You’ll need to check back and see the big reveal πŸ™‚

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6 thoughts on “Practice Makes Perfect

  1. Nice blog Kristen. My girlfriend kinda got me into the whole cake thing myself. I took a class with her this past February and bought some cake tools myself. I haven’t personally worked with Fondant yet but she just made a cake with the Wilton fondant and it came out pretty well. Def. the hardest part is rolling it out thin.

    I’ll def. be checking this blog often.

    • Thanks, Doug! (Clearly) I need to practice my cake decorating abilities. Rolling it out thin is quite the workout. It’s great you took a class – where was it? I had ambitions of going back to the French Culinary down in Soho but this recession isn’t helping me get there πŸ˜‰

      • It was actually at Michael’s. They offered a Wilton cake course at the one near me. Its 4 classes in a month for each course. We only did course 1 which went over basics like crumb coating, flavoring/making buttercream frosting and bag techniques. The coolest thing I guess was learning the Wilton rose, which I still need practice with. They offer 4 courses total…it’s def. worth checking out if there is a Michael’s near you. Only $30 a course.

      • Wow, that sounds like a great cost for not a lot of money. I definitely need to start with the basics and would love to learn to do the rose. I bought one of Wilton’s books for some design ideas if I ever get to that level! Thanks for letting me know about it πŸ™‚

  2. I think your cake looks great. I have always been intimidated by fondant but I totally want to give it a try. I have always wanted to make a princess cake because I just love the way the smooth fondant looks over the cake. Plus I’m a huge fan of marzipan. Good job on your first cake. In no time you will be as good as the workers on Ace of Cakes:)

    • Thanks! Although it was a bit of work to roll out the fondant – it was fun! I definitely recommend trying it out sometime. I’ll let you know how my next practice tries go.

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