The thing that, I believe, makes fondant cakes so popular right now is that you can make them look like something other than cake. Just google something followed by the word ‘cake’ and you’ll see what I’m talking about. It is amazing what can be done with something so simple as sugar, which, when you come down to it, is all that fondant really is.
The challenging part, however, is getting the fondant to participate in bringing the vision that you have in your head to life. This is where Megan’s famous challenge (albeit, it is only famous in our kitchen), “Well, how are you going to do that?,” (emphasis on THAT) comes into play….and, frankly, I would have to say that I don’t always know. If you’ve been following our blog you will know that Megan is the concrete thinker and I am the visionary. It’s not the job of the visionary to know exactly how something is going to come to fruition, it’s just our job to have beautiful pictures in our heads of how things are supposed to be. Unfortunately, Megan doesn’t always buy that for an answer. Sometimes, again unfortunately, heated discussions follow when I finally reveal to her that I don’t really have a plan.
Sometimes, the cake just has to happen.
Like in the case of…………..
We had some lovely people that the Lord had placed in our lives several years ago that needed a baby shower cake. Actually, the father-to-be (then, they now have two beautiful little girls) approached us about doing a cake for his wife’s baby shower. He knew us from a previous church that we attended and had seen our cakes and asked us to do a cake for them. That cake was pictured on a previous blog (it’s one of our favorites) but I’ll post it again here.
A couple of years after we did that cake, the Mom (whom the shower had been given for) approached us about doing a cake for her sister’s baby shower. As we always do, we asked the pertinent questions, theme of the shower, colors, gender, etc. Our friend told us that her sister was an astrophysicist so they wanted to do the theme “Twinkle, twinkle little star.” Immediately, our creative juices started to flow. She told us that we could come up with the design, but nothing too ‘cutesy.’ In other words, they wanted a baby shower cake but didn’t want it to look like a typical baby shower cake.
It’s always very exciting for us when someone tells us that they are letting the design of the cake up to us!!!!! We love that!!!! We have replicated cakes in the past but our favorite is when we get to come up with our own design. We immediately started brainstorming. Oftentimes we look at pictures to inspire us and, in this case, we started looking at illustrations for “Twinkle, twinkle little star.” Do you realize how many variations of a theme there are for “TTLS” (twinkle, twinkle….)?! We found one that we really, really liked. The challenge was going to be to create what looked like an open book with the picture coming to life in 3D.
We got to work and things really began to flow. Rice Krispy Treat houses covered in gum paste, and a boat with a little boy and his teddy bear were going to be put on a landscape that looked like a watercolor. Things were going along fine, yes, there is always an ‘until.’
We had decided that I would paint the water since, as an almost-art major in college, I had worked with watercolor. The problem was that painting with food coloring mixed with vodka and painting with actual watercolor were two different things. As difficult as it is to paint with watercolor I would have to say that painting with food coloring is harder since the surface that you are painting on can break down if it gets wet. Sometimes we take process pictures while we are working on a cake, just to show how things come together and I wish that I had taken a picture of that disaster that ensued. Talk about a cake wreck!! Painting with food coloring DOES NOT have the same dynamics as painting with water color. We started to panic (which is not the first time when working on a cake). We took a step back and realized that there was NO WAY we could deliver this cake. The water was splotchy and dark and looked like someone had spilled paint onto the cake, rather than carefully guiding the color into place. We got right to work ‘erasing’ the cake. Yes, you read that right. It is possible to carefully, painstakingly erase fondant. If you’re wondering how, paper towels, water and patience are involved. Eventually, we once again had a clear palette and were able to paint the food coloring in such a way that it did, finally, resemble the watercolor background from the book. And by the way, if you don’t know how to handle panic, then you shouldn’t be doing fondant cakes.
All’s well that ends well and we were very happy with the way the cake turned out….and, by the way, so was the astrophysicist.
Our recent favorite cake that didn’t look like a cake, however, was the grocery bag cake. When we were first contacted to do this cake by one of Megan’s friends from the school where she works, we were told that the cake would be for her 80 year old Mom. We always ask theme and/or did they have a design or inspiration in mind. Megan’s friend said, “well, Mom likes to grocery shop.” Okay. Hmmmmmm. Well, we could keep it safe and just do a round cake and put some groceries on top, or, we could go the extra mile and make the cake look like a grocery bag with groceries spilling out. We chose to do the grocery bag and we were really happy with it. As a matter of fact, my husband saw the Rice Krispy Treat bananas laying on the table and asked if he could eat one. He didn’t realize they weren’t real!! LOL!!
If you do fondant cakes and are thinking of experimenting with making cakes that don’t look like cakes, GO FOR IT!! They are always some of our favorite cakes and they ALWAYS get the best response when people see them!!!!!