Are you intimidated by working with fondant? So was I until a few short weeks ago. Now, I am proud to present my first ever cake decorated entirely in homemade marshmallow fondant! Recently, my dear friend Lauren asked me if I would help make her son's jungle themed 1st birthday smash cake. I was honored and excited to accept the task!
The Smash Cake. This is only the second time I have heard of this concept within a few month period. For those who may not be familiar with it, this concept embraces the reality that a birthday cake presented to a 1 year old child will likely end up all over his or her face as well as the table and the floor. Instead of putting the cake which you intend to serve to your guests at risk, provide your child with his or her very own cake to be destroyed. The smash cake provides entertainment to your child, your guests and you in reviewing the photos or video footage for years to come.
Upon agreeing to make the cake, Lauren began sharing her plans for the jungle themed party specifically featuring monkeys, one of her son Gannon's favorite animals. She specifically requested working with fondant as she wanted 3D animals to cover the landscape of the cake. Both of us, having never worked with fondant but eager to try, began experimenting with homemade marshmallow fondant recipes and colorings to start shaping our vision of the cake. One of the best aspects of marshmallow fondant is that once made, it can keep for weeks which provided us with multiple opportunities to play and practice with the cake decorating material.
After the first attempt making the fondant, I knew I would be able to execute the cake but questioned my craftiness and ability to make 3D animals. Lauren agreed to make the 3D animals as she felt that to be the easiest part so long as I take on the daunting task of the cake. She claimed to be quite the Play-Doh enthusiast as a child. I still laugh in thinking I had the easier end of the deal, but our joint efforts came together in one amazing cake! How adorable are the animals Lauren made?
Clearly our excitement and perusing of Pinterest resulted in quite an elaborate "smash cake" that was likely to be inedible by partygoers. But hey - your first child only has his or her first birthday once - you have to make it special!
Special it was - look at this cutie! Gannon, his parents and his guests were thrilled with the cake. Having made it a larger two tier cake and with their son focusing more on tasting the delicious cake and fondant as opposed to messing up the cake, a majority of the cake was actually able to be saved for serving to the guests. Gannon especially enjoyed peeling off the giraffe spots and letters of his name one at a time and eating. He was even more thrilled when he learned the animals too were edible. He sure did a number on his side before the sugar rush set in!
All in all, marshmallow fondant is much easier to make and work with than I had ever anticipated. And, its fun! With this being my first attempt, I have tremendous room for improvement but look forward to practicing on future cakes. While the process is straightforward, it sure is a time consuming and messy task. Hence, you will not find this post filled with pictures showing the process of making the fondant, cutting and shaping the fondant and assembling the cake. My sole focus was to ensure that this handsome young man and his parents were presented with a cake that exceeded their expectations.
With this post, however, I do want to share with any of those who may be interested in attempting fondant with tips and tutorials that I found most helpful.
Making the Marshmallow Fondant
I used a fondant tutorial by Jaclyn at her I Design Blog to help create the marshmallow fondant. Jaclyn provides a wonderful step by step tutorial with photos along the way to help you check consistency of your fondant as it works through the process. What I found most beneficial is that she also includes tutorials on how to mix the fondant using the dough hook of a mixer as opposed to kneading only by hand. When making multiple batches and colors, not having to hand knead everything proved to be tremendously helpful.
Coloring the Marshmallow Fondant
To color the marshmallow fondant, I used Americolor Soft Gel Paste Cake Decorating Food Coloring. The cake features usage of Chocolate Brown and Egg Yellow to create the base layer giraffe print; the Leaf Green, Sky Blue, and Chocolate Brown to create the jungle vine top layer; and Orange and Teal to create the name lettering. As discussed in my Give Me Some Sugar blogpost, Americolor is my food coloring product of choice which proved effective for the creation of fondant.
Covering the Cake with Marshmallow Fondant
To cover the round cakes, I used a tutorial by Cakes.com that provides easy to follow directions and pictures to guide you through the process of prepping the cake, rolling out the fondant and covering the cake.
Designing the Cake
For both my creation of the cake and Lauren's creation of the animals, all ideas you see were crafted by trial and error using our hands and basic fondant cutting and shaping tools.
A special thank you to Lauren for including me in this fun learning experience and momentous occasion for her family. I am so excited to keep practicing use of marshmallow fondant on future cakes!