Easy Cake Decorating with Fondant
How to use fondant
I took a cake decorating and baking class years ago, and I actually got pretty good at cake decorating. Of course, I had my own little bags and a whole box of cake decorating tips. I even got really good at making roses. I remember, however, that to make nice icing decorations, the icing needs to be stiff, and I no longer have the strength in my hands to do that type of cake decorating adequately. I actually miss this outlet for my creativity, especially when one of my grandchildren has a birthday. My oldest granddaughter turned eight years old yesterday, and her big birthday party was today. I had an idea of how I wanted her cake to look.
My daughter and I visited a couple of bakeries, but when I explained what I wanted, they said they didn’t do that type of cake decorating. Finally, we went to a bakery that specializes in fancy cake decorating. They said they could do the cake, but that it would cost around $100 for a fondant cake. When I told them I needed the cake for a Saturday morning birthday party, I was informed they’d need at least a week’s notice. A week?? I wanted a birthday cake – not a Greek sculpture. Did they have a one-armed lady doing the cake decorating?
I decided right then and there that I was going to decorate Lexi’s birthday cake myself. My little princess was going to get the cake we wanted, come hell or high water! I’d just have to dust off my cake decorating skills!
Cake decorating cheat sheet
Notice that I said I was going to “decorate” her birthday cake. I didn’t say I was going to bake it. I had a plan for easy cake decorating. I went to the local Walmart bakery and told them I wanted a two-tiered cake:
Me: I’d like to order a two-tiered cake, please.
Bakery lady: Would you like it to be round or square?
Bakery lady: Is this for a wedding?
Me: No, it’s for a birthday.
Bakery lady: Okay, just a moment.
(Bakery Lady (BL) leaves for a few seconds and then returns.)
BL: We can only do a two-tiered round cake if it’s for a wedding.
Me: Okay, then say it’s for a wedding!
BL: Okay, Just a minute.
(BL disappears again.)
BL: We can do a two-tiered special occasion cake.
Me: That’s fine.
I told Bakery Lady I wanted the bottom cake to be hot pink, and I wanted the smaller cake to be lime green. I described the type of icing I wanted, along with the kind of border edges I wanted. I also explained to her that I wanted the icing to be very smooth, so that it would resemble fondant icing. After some confusing and puzzled looks, I think I finally got her to understand what I wanted. This was on Thursday, and I told her we’d pick the cake up the next evening.
That left me more than 24 hours to think about the cake, which is bad. It gave me time to decide I wanted Lexi to have a three-tiered cake instead of a two-tiered cake. Friday afternoon, I went to a supermarket bakery and purchased one of those small birthday cakes – the kind people buy for a kid to destroy on their first birthday. This cake was frosted with white icing.
My first foray with fondant
In my mind, I had a picture of exactly how I wanted the cake to look. I was going to use fondant for my cake decorating. I had never worked with fondant before, but I figured, ”I’m creative. I’m semi-intelligent. I’m artsy. How hard can it be?” If you want to know how to make fondant, you can follow the video recipe below. I, however, cheated again. I purchased several different colors of rolled fondant, and I could hardly wait to begin my cake decorating project!
We picked up the two-tiered cake from Wally World, and I already had the small white cake from the grocery store. When I compared the small cake to the top tier of the big cake, I discovered that they were almost the same size. Rut-roh! Houston, we have a problem. There’s no way I could just set the little white cake right on top of the green cake – that would look stupid, I decided. Okay, on to plan #2. I decided I’d use columns to separate the two top tiers. The only problem with this hair-brained scheme was that it was about midnight, and there was no way I was getting dressed and going back to Wally World for cake columns or other baking supplies. And I don’t know about you, but cake columns and dividers aren’t exactly part of my normal baking supplies.
I started thinking about what in the heck I could use as a divider. I opened my baking supplies cabinet and stood there, just staring. My eyes rested on a tall cardboard can of oats, and my gears began to turn. I could cut that sucker down, tear off the paper label, and paint it! So that’s what I did. I used my acrylic paints to make the can hot pink. This took a bunch of coats. Once I was satisfied with how it looked, I used a purple acrylic paint pen to add zebra stripes.
In between coats of paint, I worked on my cake decorating. I started with the purple fondant, and it only took me a few minutes to figure out how to use fondant. I rolled it out on waxed paper and used a sharp knife to make my zebra stripes, which I applied to the little white cake. I also cut out a few purple dots with the small tip of a tunnel. I put these on the green cake. Next, I used the spout of a plastic bottle to cut out polka-dots from the green fondant, and I put them on the pink cake. I cut out hot pink dots and added them to the green cake. I found that if I added just a couple of drops of water to the back of the fondant, they were easy to stick on the cake.
I didn’t assemble the cake until we got it to the birthday party. I removed the two-tiered cake from its box, and I placed the cardboard can on top. Next, I placed the little white-and-purple zebra-striped cake on the box, and I added eight zebra candles. The little girls at the party loved the funky cake! My granddaughter was so happy with it – it totally made my cake decorating efforts worth the time. My other grands like the cake so much that I feel sure I'll be doing more cake decorating in the very near future!