Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mommy's Belly Baby Shower Cake

I have a secret: I LOVE marshmallow fondant! 

From a design standpoint, it’s easy to work with, can be flavored to suit your cake and can be made for just a few dollars. Plus, it keeps at room temperature and playing with it takes me back to clay sculpting as a little girl.

The idea for this baby shower cake came from one that I saw while idea hunting using Google Images. Of the 4 or 5 designs I presented to the hostess, this one was the clear winner. This was my first cake made using marshmallow fondant (recipe here) and, all things considered, I was pleased with the results. It was a labor of love( started at 5pm, finished at 3am) and a fun experiment all at the same time. Lets walk through the steps:
    1. BAKE - Whenever possible, do all your baking the day before. This will allow your cakes to cool completely before decorating.
      • I use boxed cake mixes. My theory is, the recipe was good enough to market, it’s good enough to serve! I also substitute equal amounts of apple sauce for the oil in the recipe.
      • I spice up my mixes slightly depending on the flavor.
        • Lemon cake was used for chest. I used the cheapest most cost effective boxed lemon cake I could find and added the following while mixing:
          • 1 Tbs of Meringue powder (found in the cake decorating section of any craft or grocery store)
          • ½ a package of lemon instant pudding mix (just the mix, no extra liquid)
          • 1 tsp vanilla flavoring.
        • Chocolate was used for the belly. I picked the same brand as before, for obvious reasons. I look for the most chocolate flavored version I can find, either devils food or double chocolate. I added the following while mixing:
          • 1 Tbs of Meringue powder
          • ½ a package of instant chocolate pudding (even if your mix is the kind that already has pudding in the mix, add more!)
          • 1 tsp vanilla flavoring.
          • Brew a small cup of strong coffee(I used a Frangelico flavored coffee) and use 1 cool tablespoon in place of 1 tablespoon of water in the recipe.
      • I completed the first 2 Wilton cake decorating courses and love most of their products. I used their round pans and the cake strips to help my cakes rise evenly in pans that had a parchment circle in the bottom and were coated with plain old butter flavored Crisco.
      • I made a 10” round chocolate layer, an 8” round chocolate layer, and 2   6” round lemon layers. When they’re cool enough to touch, wrap them in cling wrap. This keeps in the moisture and keeps them fresh overnight.
    2. Buttercream:

      • I follow the basic Class Buttercream recipe from Wilton thinned out with extra milk or water to an icing consistency. It’s easy to make and produces pretty consistent results if you bring it together slowly. I use the butter flavored shortening and add Vanilla flavoring and a touch of almond to make it special. You can tint it if you want but the white will make the fondant colors pop.
    3. Board, Stack, & Sculpt:
      • You’ll need a strong base to support this cake. I used 3 layers of cardboard from some moving boxes taped together and covered in heavy duty aluminum foil.
      • Cover a 10” cake circle or round piece of cardboard in aluminum foil (instructions) and set your 10” cake on top. Spread a layer of buttercream over the top of the cake and place the 8” layer on top, centered.
      • Use a long serrated knife to carve the layered cake into a belly-shaped dome.
      • Set your belly on the cake board and carve and position the 6” cakes for the chest.
    4. Marshmallow Fondant (MMF):
      • I melted the mixture in the microwave but transferred it into my stand mixer after I had greased the bowl and the dough hook to be kneaded.
      • After adding enough powdered sugar for it to begin to form a dough, I added my flavoring, again, about a tsp of vanilla.
      • I greased a portion of a smooth countertop and pulled my fondant out onto it to continue kneading.
      • I portioned out my MMF for coloring. About half was going to be blue, ¼ white, and ¼ brown. To color, I used Wilton gel coloring and added it to a dip in the center of the MMF and kneaded it until the color was no longer streaky.
      • Grease your rolling pin if you don’t have a silicone rolling pin and roll out your blue MMF to about ¼” thick and large enough to cover the entire belly and part of the board.
      • Frost the belly with buttercream and lay your blue MMF over it just after it starts to firm up but before it crusts. Smooth, drape, and cut as desired.
      • Roll out a portion of the skin tone MMF in a long rectangular shape and frost and cover the chest after it’s positioned on the board the way you want it.
      • Roll out some more blue MMF and cut a shape for the top of your dress.
      • Roll out some white and, using a pizza cutter and piping tips or cookie cutters, cut the decorations for your dress.
        • I made my bow by cutting a long rectangle and cutting a triangle out of each end. I then cut another long rectangle and folded the ends together to meet in the middle and wound a small strip around the center to make it look like a knot. Attach the bow pieces to each other and to the dress with a tiny bit of water.
      • Ta-Da! You’re actually done with the decoration at this point.
    5. Transport – a necessary evil.

      • My cake had to get to a party that was happing 15 hours later and 30 minutes away so I wanted to keep it safe and dust-free.
      • The fondant can exist safely at room temperature and, when you’re icing correctly, even seal in the freshness of your buttercream and cake so I didn’t have to worry about finding a place for it.
      • I didn’t have a box large enough or tall enough to transport the cake so I decided on a brand new, clean contractors trash-bag. The dark color would keep the cake a secret until the shower, the plastic would keep out moisture so my MMF wouldn’t break down. The next little secret kept the plastic off of the design.
      • Now, this wasn’t as painful as it looks. I pushed bamboo skewers into the belly in the center of each of my white dots and cut them off about 4” above the cake surface. This kept the bag from touching my cake.
  1. Presentation & Serving:
    • To set the cake up for the shower, I removed and discarded the plastic bag and carefully removed the skewers.
    • I pushed small edible pearls into the holes left by the skewers and one into the center of all of the other dots on the dress and no-one was the wiser.
    • Slice the cake however you’d like and enjoy!

  Thanks For Reading, and please share your attempts and experiences, I look forward to seeing them!

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