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Learning to Decorate Cakes | Decorating Cakes With Fondant and Gum Paste

Updated on June 6, 2010

Learning to Decorate Cakes

I recently started to make and decorate cakes at home. At first I was just making a cake for my Dad and brother's birthday, who knew one cake had the potential to become the perfect job!

I am a stay at home mom of a 4 year old and a 1 year old, the thought of going back to work for a minimum payin job was scary to say the least. I wanted to do something I enjoyed doing but how do you make money staying at home and love what you're doing? I had thought and thought about this for 2 years now and finally the perfect job fell into my lab...I guess I should say mouth in this case.

There is a huge business is making and decoating cakes and cookies. Most people don't have the time or the talent to make a cake that tastes great and is a crowd pleaser.

This is my story, that is continuing as I type, of how I started doing what I love. Everyday is a learning experience, every cake is a learning experience, I learn from my mistakes and I wouldn't have it any other way!!

Fondant Recipe - Making Fondant

My first experience with Fondant

My mom asked me to make a cake for my Dad and Brother's birthday in May. I thought, hey why not I like making cake. I had always wanted to make a cake using fondant why not try now?

Making Fondant

I searched online for a good recipe, google is my best friend, and finally found one. During my search I kept coming back to the same site, CakeCentral, so I thought I'd join, it's free, and see what secrets I could find out.

Making cakes is an art and on CakeCentral I found many, many talented people. I asked around and found out the recipe I was going to make was not so good. Many people buy there fondant from places like Michaels, the Bulk Barn and various distributors on-line. Unfortunetly I live in a small town and buying fondant is like giving up a limb, so homemade is the way to go!

The Fondant Recipe I was given is this:

1. When you make fondant, both the dough and the icing, make sure to make it in room temperature - Too cold or too warm room will hurt the dough

2. When you calculate the quantity of fondant icing required, it's better to have too much fondant icing rather than too little, as leftover icing can be stored and used at a later date, or used for extra decorations

3. Make sure you make fondant on a clean and smooth working surface.

Jewelry on your fingers or wrists or fluffy clothing could hurt the fondant's surface

Ingredients required to make the fondant recipe:

• 1 Tbsp of unflavored gelatin

•1/4 cup of cold water

•1 tsp of almond extract

• 1/2 cup of light corn syrup (If a corn syrup is not available, you can substitute it with a sugar syrup made with 1-1/4 cups sugar and 1/3 cup water, boiled together until syrupy)

•1 Tbsp of glycerin (some recipes say it's optional, believe me, it's a must)

• 2 lbs 10X confectioners' sugar

• 1/2 tsp of white vegetable shortening

Directions how to make the fondant recipe:

• Sprinkle the gelatin over cold water in a small bowl and let it rest for 2 minutes to soften

• Place the bowl in a microwave for 30 seconds on High, until the gelatin dissolves

• Add the Almond extract

• Add the corn syrup and the glycerin and stir until the mixture is smooth and clear (if the mixture is not turning smooth and clear, microwave it for an additional 15 to 20 seconds on high and stir again)

•Sift 1 1/2 pounds of the sugar into a large bowl

• Make a hole in the sugar and pour the liquid mixture to it

• Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture becomes sticky

• Sift some of the remaining 1/2 pound of sugar onto a smooth work surface and add as much of the remaining sugar as the mixture will take

• Knead the fondant, adding a little more sugar if necessary, to form a smooth, pliable mass

• Rub the vegetable shortening on your thumbs and knead it into the fondant

• Wrap the fondant in plastic wrap and place it in a tightly sealed container to prevent it from drying out

If the icing dries out and harden it can often be revived by popping it into a microwave oven for a few seconds and then kneading it back to life.

How to cover a square Fondant Cake

Once I had made my fondant I had no idea how to cover my cake with off to youtube I went to find a visual!

Making a Fondant Covered Cake

My First Fondant Experience

After making my fondant I split the dough for my two cakes and dyed it two different colours.

I baked my chocolate mud cakes, cooled them and filled them with chocolate ganache filling.

I then covered them in buttercream icing and then applied my fondant.

I also made a fondant bow and fondant circles to decorate the cake

Things I learn:

• 1 pound of powdered sugar is 4 cups of sugar NOT 3...oops

• Even a two tierd cake needs to be supported. I got kind of lucky, the cake was dense and helped support some of the weight but it became VERY droopy!! I should have put a cardboard base under the top tier and put dowels into the bottom to help support the weight...

• When filling a cake ALWAYS pipe a circle about 1/4" from the side of the cake. This helps to keep the filling in the cake!

• Need to buy a small level...the cake looked level to me, I guess my eye's are not as good as I thought!!

• I suck at piping...

Fondant | Buying Fondant - Buying Pre-made Fondant

If you don't have the time or patience to make fondant, buying it may be what you need to do.

I do think Home Made Fondant tastes better but it takes practice to make it right...buying Fondant instead of making it will help save A LOT of time.

I'm still prefecting my fondant recipe!! Soon it will be time to try Marshmallow Fondant...I'll keep you posted on that adventure!!

Making a Fondant Bow - How to Make a Fondant Bow

Making a fondant bow is fairly easy...having a visual always helps!!

How to Make a Fondant Bow

Tips for Making a Loopy Fondant Bow

So my first attempt at a bow turned out....alright??!! LOL

I made a couple of mistakes and learned TONS.

Tips for Making Loopy Fondant Bow

• Cut all your pieces the same length and thickness, add a bit of water to the ends to seal them together and either cut or fold the ends to make a diamondish shape ( this helps when assembling the bow!)

• Make extra loops incase some break

• Put your bow loops on a cookies sheet with either wax paper or partchment paper and let dry. If you want a flatter looking bow let loops dry for an hour or two and assemble....If you want a REALLY loopy bow let the loops dry for 6 - 8 hours/overnight. The loops will be hard at this point and can break very easily.

• Assemble bow. I like to use royal icing tinted the same colour as my base fondant to attach the bow.

Get a plate and cover with wax paper, rub shortening on the wax paper, this helps with sticking issues. Place a glob of Royal Icing (RI) in the center and start arranging the loops. Alternate their position, turning some loops on there side. Do about 7 loops on the bottom layer, 4 loops in the next layer and two or three...depends on how big your loops are!

• Let the assembled bow dry overnight and place on cake once dry.

• For the curly ribbons I cut smaller pieces of fondant and wrapped around straws that had been rubbed with shortening. Let dry 15 for mins, take off the straw and let dry overnight. I like to put my curlies in after I have the bow on the cake...I learned this the hard way...they break very easily. Just use some royal icing, tinited the same colour as the bow and place.

How to make Lined Loopy Bow | Two Tone Bow

To make this bow roll out the outside colour of fondant to disired width & height. I measure and mark how thick and long so I wont have any "wasted fondant". Roll your inside colour the same measurments, put some water on both pieces and stick them together, let dry 15 mins. Cut your bow pieces and fold into loops....TaDa


Gum Paste Flowers

How to Make Gumpaste Flowers

This cake was the second cake I made, it was a Mothers Day cake for my mom. The cake is covered in Snow White Buttercream Icing (it's a crusting buttercream) and covered in Gum Paste Flowers. I bought the Wilton's Student Kit Course 3, this kit had most of the basic tools needed to make gum paste flowers.

Wilton's Student Kit Course 3 Includes:

• 5 Floral cutters

• Balling tool

• Thick and thin Foam

• Cake dividing Chart

• Artist's brush

...just to name a few...

It took some practice to get use to the gum paste as it is more stretchy than fondant but it is very fun to work with. Once again I headed over to youtube to find a video to help me make some flowers.

Gum Paste Flower Kits | Fondant Flowers - Floral Kits for Gum Paste / Fondant

If you want to get into making Gum Paste Flowers / Fondant Flowers You'll need a couple of special tools.

How to Make Gum Paste Flowers - Making a Calla Lily

Once you have the basic idea of what to do with the gum paste just experiment, play around and see what creations you can make!


How to get Smooth Buttercream Icing

Apply a crumb coat to your cake and let dry.

Once the cumb coat is dry apply another coat of Buttercream...let this dry 15 mins of so, just until you can touch the icing without it coming off on your finger.

Get a piece of paper towel perferably one without a pattern, Viva works very well, parchment paper works well too.

Start smoothing with paper towel and fondant smoother...

How to get Smooth Buttercream Icing

I have more to put up it's just getting the time to do it. I plan on going over how to make a Royal icing tiara, royal icing butterflys, making baby shoes out of fondant and making edible pearls ...just to name a few. Let me know if you want me to go over anything!

Thanks for looking!

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      RedGarnet 6 years ago

      This is really informative. I can't wait to give it a try!!