Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Fondant Bow

I learned two important lessons in the spring of 2010:  sometimes these techniques take a little practice and never, ever apologize for how your cakes turn out. Just keep going and smile! I thank Julia Childs for those two little whispers in my ear all the time.

I have a sister whose family celebrates 4 birthdays in the spring.  That year they were gracious enough for me to practice, practice, practice fondant bow making. As well as refining the White Almond Sour Cream recipe. Of course, the youngest in the family understandably did not want a bow on his cake! It was three times' the charm for the bow making experiment!

First a few lessons from my sister, Michele's cake. I followed steps like those described here. But somehow my loops were a little more round than an actual bow.

The recipe was another first. Can I say again how much I love the White Almond Sour Cream recipe? The only change since first baking this cake is that I now use 6 whole eggs instead of 8 egg whites. I  like the texture a little better. The end result isn't as white and fluffy as a true white cake, but the cut cake is so very neat and pretty.

Finally, sugar sheets. I love sugar sheets. For my sister's cake, I found beautiful free downloadable scrapbook papers, printed them on card stock and had our local Harris Teeter print that on sugar sheets. I loved the ability to cover a cake entirely with a fabulous pattern. I learned that the best way to do this in the future is to have a cake the same size as the sheet. The sheets aren't seamless.You'll see in the picture!

Even though I knew I had a little more to learn here, 
Michele was surprised and thrilled with her birthday gift cake!

The very next weekend was my brother-in-laws birthday. This time I tried another method of bow making. Wilton can't be wrong, right? Although the loops were more bow like, I still felt something was missing. Maybe not enough loops, definitely not to use buttercream to put it all together.
This time I stamped with black food coloring to get the pattern on the loops. 

Finally, my nephew's party the very next weekend, I think. Third times the charm.

 The loops are cut at 1" wide 6" long. Those proportions work every time. I managed to get a shape that I really, really liked. Also, this bow was a mixture of modeling chocolate and white fondant. Way more stable than plain fondant. Since then, I use either modeling chocolate or gum paste to mix with fondant. Either way is the bows loops aren't as likely to break as with plain fondant. Oh, and I used melted chocolate as the glue to hold the bow together.

Shortly after this bow making marathon, a month or more later, I had the opportunity to try again for a family friend.  Bingo. I love how the sugar sheets really make this bow stand out. And the extra ribbons add the finishing touches to look like a real bow.

Reading Julia's book "My Life in France" was totally worth it. I hope you will remember those two whispers too. Practice makes perfect and Never apologize, just keep going and smile!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Again With the Writing?

Have I mentioned that I really do not like to free-hand pipe words on cake? Yes, I think have.
These letters were made with the Curlz MT font. 

My new favorite way to get the message across is Royal Icing Transfer letters. There are a few drawbacks but for my purposes, I love it.  A few reasons why:

  1. I get to use up extra royal icing.
  2. 1001 Free Fonts.  Did you know how easy it is to install a new font onto your computer? For Windows:  Download the zip file. My downloaded stuff ends up in a file called "Downloads". That Bill Gates is so smart. Then choose Extract all files. When you are asked where to extract the file to, click Browse, choose My Computer, Local Disk C:, Windows, Fonts.
  3. Dried royal icing keeps for a long time. A long time. Pipe some extra "Happy Birthday", leave the words attached to the wax paper and store it in a box. (Note: I haven't tried storing with shortening on the wax paper. I've only stored words piped on plain wax paper.)
  4. I get to try out the size of letters BEFORE placing them on the cake! In my publishing software I draw a circle the size of the cake, then type the letters and choose the right font size. Way better than a Cake Wreck. 
  5. I get to use up extra royal icing. What else can you do with extra black royal icing?

There are some great tutorials like this one from Klickitat Street for silly faces or this one from Suzdaily

These are the Halloween faces from Klickitat Street. I just choose the happy/silly faces!
I know, not words, but royal icing transfers and how cute did they turn out?!

The drawbacks are how fragile dried royal icing is and how fragile dried royal icing is. Since the fonts are free and royal icing is extra, easy-peasy.  Pipe one more time just to be sure you have a backup if the letters break.

I think the tip to use shortening on the wax paper does help. Tried it both ways and yes, think the shortening does help the letters release a little better. Also, I like to use the little thin spatula tool that came with my Cricut Mini. So thin, just right for moving these letters around.
New favorite font: Calamity Jane

Best tip ever for royal icing is using a small fan. I love how this cuts the drying time in half! I bought a small little fan that fits on the sideboard in my "cookie staging area" aka dining room. Works like a charm on cookies too. The letters on the cake above I piped in the morning and placed on the cake in the afternoon.  That is pretty quick turn around for royal icing.

Calamity Jane works for boy cakes too!

So, again with the writing? Yep! What would you like to say on your cake?