Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Making your own fondant - a step-by-step tutorial

Fondant covered cakes are very popular and make for a beautiful finished cake.  There are a variety of ready-to-use fondants on the market, that range from really delicious to much less so!  Of course, the really delicious ones are not available to me locally.  I live near, but not in Toronto, and any trip into the "city" takes a couple of hours out of my day.  Sometimes that is more time than I am willing to spend for really good tasting fondant!

Since I have always had a make-your-own approach to food, I felt no different when I first started using fondant.  I sourced an awesome recipe in The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum and have been using it ever since.  When I first tried the recipe I found it intimidating, but quickly realized it took about 20 minutes to put together, it has great elasticity and taste and it saves me a lot of time and money!  A single batch of this recipe costs me less than $5 to make, the equivalent amount of store-bought fondant costs 2 - 3 times that much! 

So today I created a tutorial on how I make fondant, I hope you enjoy!

Here are the ingredients - corn syrup, shortening, unflavoured gelatin, water, glycerine and confectioners' (powdered) sugar.  My trusty scale is also shown, a very important part of the process!  Note - today I made a triple batch, I usually do a double.
First I sprinkle 1 tablespoons of gelatin over 3 tablespoons of water and let it soften for about 5 minutes.  While that is happening I measure out the rest of the ingredients, 1/2 cup corn syrup and 1 tablespoon of glycerin, as well as 2 tablespoons of shortening.  I get a pot of water on the stove and bring it to a simmer.  Next I measure out 920 grams of confectioners' sugar.  Please note - if your confectioners' sugar is not fresh (clumpy), please sift it at this stage.  My sugar is fresh, I use so much of it, that I don't usually need to sift it.

The next step I do before I move to the stove is to prepare the kneading area.  I cover the area in shortening to prevent sticking.

I place the gelatin in a heatproof bowl over the simmering water.  (I usually put it in the heatproof bowl right away, but today my thinking cap was off and I started it in a non-heatproof and had to transfer it - oops!)  I stir the gelatin mixture as the water simmers underneath until the gelatin and water mixture has turned liquid.

Then I add the corn syrup and glycerin.

Then I add the shortening in pieces (the smaller the pieces, the shorter amount of time it takes to melt).

The hot mixture is poured into the sugar and using your hands, mix it until it comes together.  Some advice for this step - grease your hands with shortening.  And I mean it - rub that stuff all over like it is the coldest, windiest winter day and you've not seen handcream in a month.  I used to just grease my palms and fingers, but I've learned my lesson - now everything attached to my wrist is greasy!

Once the mixture comes together (no photograph of that, sorry!) dump the mixture out onto the greased counter and start kneading.

Keep kneading until it is smooth and elastic and looks like this:

Package it in a zippered storage bag and rest for a few hours before using.  It can be coloured to your heart's content!  It is a wonderful recipe that produces a really terrific product.  It has been a lifesaver more than once and I will continue to make it!  I hope I took out some of the intimidation factor for you and hope you give it a try.

Here are a few of my cakes that I used my own fondant on - enjoy.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Cake & Cookie Decorating Parties

Over the years I have thrown my daughters some incredible birthday parties (tooting my own horn, just a little!)  No matter what the theme, I would always make one of the activities involve icing in a piping bag!  Whether they were decorating cookies or cupcakes, the kids always had a blast!

When my youngest turned 5, each child got to decorate their own mini Barbie cake!
So in response to all the joy I have witnessed when kids wield an icing-bag and after numerous inquiries in regards to parties and cake decorating instruction, I set about organising a couple of cake decorating party test runs with children of various ages and they were very successful.  I couldn't believe how much fun everyone had! 

And so today, I officially announce that Sweet Handmade is offering decorating parties.

A Sweet Handmade birthday party is an easy party for you!  Thoughtfully planned out, all you need to do is provide each party-goer with a work area and I will take care of the rest; I set up each work station, lead the group with 1 1/2 to 2 hours of decorating fun and I clean up at the end.  There is no need to purchase a party cake because the demonstration cake becomes the party cake - and this delicious cake is one you will want to eat!  There is also no need to purchase a loot bag or take-home gifts, as each child will bring home their cake and cookies, boxed for ease!  Starting at $180 for up to six children, $30 for each additional child to a maximum of 15 children.

Enjoy these pictures of young budding cake designers as they try their hand at cakes, fondant, cookies, frosting, cutters, piping and fun!

After set-up, this young party-goer has her sugar cookies and frosted cake ready to decorate.  After a quick and easy demonstration, she will be ready to go.

A little help is sometimes needed!
After I demonstrate some super sugar cookie decorating techniques like outlining, flooding and marbling, the kids try out what they learned and come up with their own designs.

An occasional lick is part of the fun and so yummy!

The party is surprisingly quiet as the amateur decorators work on their craft.

I then lead the group to channel their inner-cake-designers, first by demonstrating how to colour and roll fondant, then how to cover their cakes and how to finish the design with fondant cutouts and piped icing.  Each child then works on their own cake.

Using cookie cutters and fondant balls, this party-goer made her cake beautiful.

This cake was decorated in beautiful bright colours - stars, teddy bears and hand prints.  Super cute!

Always different, always special, always delicious and always super fun!

Contact me today to book your next party - suitable for ages 5 and up.  What a wonderful time!