Cake Boss on TLC put me over the top, needing to get my fingers into a complicated project before the creative energy caused my body to spontaneously combust. Seriously, that is what it feels like might happen sometimes if I don't bake or play the piano (both seem to do the trick, but I don't have a piano at home, you see).
I did quite a bit of reading beforehand, both online and in a few cookbooks. Next time I'm going to try homemade fondant using Zoe's recipe, because it looks like "real" rolled fondant. The first time I made it, I wanted it to be easy(er). So I went with the marshmallow fondant recipe I had seen several places. Peggy from What's Cooking America had directions that seemed pretty straightforward, so one evening last week I mixed up the marshmallow fondant and made the cake pieces.
Another thing I've been wanting to experiment with is Meyer Lemons. I bought a bunch and made a lemon layer cake as well as lemon curd using those lemons. They are very fragrant, and I could smell something like tangerine as well as lemon, which made for a delicious cake!
The most important thing to realize about Marshmallow Fondant is that it is MESSY. First you melt marshmallows, and then dump powdered sugar onto them. Some recipes have you mix this in the mixer, but this one had me mixing and kneading it with my hands from the beginning after spreading the counter and my hands with Crisco. I started laughing maniacally as I slathered everything with shortening and started trying to make a dough out of the messiest ingredients I had ever encountered.
Eventually, without absorbing nearly as much powdered sugar as was in the recipe, it turned into a smooth, shiny, kneaded, bright white ball. I wrapped it tightly and let it sit out overnight. The next day I put the cake layers together with a thin layer of buttercream and filled with the Meyer lemon curd. I kneaded the fondant out and rolled it out, trying to make it as even and smooth as possible.
At this point, if I had been paying more attention to the directions, I would have a circle about the size of the diameter of the cake plus its height, plus another inch for good measure. But I lifted the entire sheet of fondant up and tried to smooth it onto the cake. As a result it never got as smooth as I wanted, because first I had to try to smooth it down the sides and then cut off the extra. I wasn't really sure how much icing to put underneath either, and may have overdone it. It is really a balancing act - any less and the layers would have shown through quite a bit more, but any more and it would have squished out everywhere (it did a little on the bottom as it was).
The remaining fondant got divided in half, and I added food coloring to each, making ball blue and the other neon green. That was slightly precarious, trying to keep the food coloring off of the counter and my hands, and a lot of handwashing was involved. The colors were vivid, but I definitely wish I had made the base of the cake one of these colors, rather than going with the basic white. I excuse myself by saying that this was all an experiment anyway!
The final design is not life changing - just to show that I could put a band around the bottom and shapes on the sides and top (just using water). I left it overnight and was pleased to see that the colors had not bled into each other, and took it to work that morning. Most of it was consumed that day (thanks to a post in Facebook featuring me in my office holding the cake up to my webcam, which is the first picture in this post), but several days later the marshmallow fondant is STILL holding up and soft. Cutting through it was no trouble. I personally didn't care for the taste, as it was way too sweet for my tastes. But in my reading I found that the commercial fondant is most often peeled off of a cake before eating, and this was definitely edible, melding nicely with the buttercream underneath. I liked the possibility for smoothness, for finesse, that fondant affords - I just need to play with it more.
Categories: Cake, Lemon