Saturday, July 4, 2009

4th of July Cake with Fondant Cut Outs

I'm no cake decorator but I think it's a lot of fun and I try to be creative. My grandfather's birthday is July 4th and he is 99 years old today! I made him this special cake, and I'm sure that him and everyone in his assisted living home will enjoy it. I didn't see the cake actually "cut" so I couldn't take a photo of a single piece of cake but I will tell you that it's a gorgeous red velvet cake. The recipe is from one of my Cooks Illustrated magazines from about 3 years ago. I've made a lot of red velvet cake recipes and this is my favorite. I won't post the recipe because I know Cooks Illustrated would ask me to remove it. But I will post the icing recipe below. It's from the Whimsical Bakehouse cookbook. This icing is made with butter, shortening, powdered sugar, boiling water, vanilla & salt. I'm not a fan of shortening in icing usually, but I must admit, it's sure adds a certain silky smooth texture. This icing feels almost whipped like in texture. Not heavy at all and no grittiness that you find in an American buttercream. Very light & fluffy. Easy to spread and pipe. I like it alot. The fondant stars are a little added decoration that I thought would add a little pizaz and sparkle. I wanted to do a chocolate transfer decoration but since it's going to be so hot today, I thought chocolate would not hold up well. The hot weather is another reason I chose an icing that has shortening in it. The sparkles on the fondant are "disco dust". I purchase it online and use it in many different ways. I sprinkle it on cupcakes, use it on my decorated cookies and sprinkle it lightly over my entire cakes for added sparkle. It's not the petal dust or....I forget the other dusts names but it's specifically "disco" dust. It's more sparkly than the others.

I purchase my fondant in tubs. I use it to cover my decorated sugar cookies and also to make little cut out shapes - like my stars. I've never covered an entire cake with it though although I know that's a common method of use. The top fondant in this photo is red colored, white chocolate flavored fondant. Satin Ice, I think, is the best flavored of all fondants. I've tried Wilton before and thought it was awful. Well, who really eats fondant anyway? It taste just like a crusty marshmallow.

I roll my fondant out on a Silpat mat, dusted with powdered sugar.

I lay all the pieces out on wax paper and let them dry for awhile.

Then I take a paint brush and lightly coat the fondant piece with vodka (because it totally evaporates) and then sprinkle with disco dust.

I learned this trick a couple of years back when I'm measuring shortening. Line my measuring cup with saran wrap, scoop shortening into cup. Slip the whole piece of plastic out and dump into bowl. Throw plastic away. Ta Da! Clean measuring cup and no having to srape out the sides.

This icing needs to be whipped for 10-20 minutes!!

I know it's not amazing or anything but I'm proud of it. What I really need to do is take a cake decorating class. I can't make a buttercream rose to save my life.

Happy Birthday Grandpa Frank!!

House Buttercream
Adapted from The Whimsical Bakehouse

In mixer bowl, stir together:

6 cups powdered sugar
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla

Using whip attachment, add and whip on low speed:

1 cup boiling water (3/4 cup on hot days)

Whip until smooth and is cool.

Add and whip until smooth again:

2 3/4 cup hi-ratio shortening or regular vegetable shortening
6oz (1 1/2 sticks) butter; slightly chilled and cut into 1" pieces

Turn up mixer to medium-high. Whip until double in volume and is light and fluffy. About 10-20 minutes. recipe will almost fill a 5qt mixer bowl when done.

Makes 9 1/2 cups

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