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Make Your Own Alice In Wonderland Theme Cake
Decorated birthday cakes these days can be pretty expensive. The more elaborate the design, the bigger the dollar sign. Over the past year, I've started doing my own cake decorating, and I'm having a blast with it! My teenage daughter asked me to come up with an Alice In Wonderland cake for her birthday, and I've decided to share with you the steps I took to make the cake as well as some helpful tips I have learned along the way.
Create The Perfect Base
I'll admit it, I use boxed cake mixes for a lot of my cakes. There are a lot of flavors out there to choose from, and the sheer ease of throwing it together is often worthwhile when you're a working Mom with two kids (three if you count the husband!) and two rambunctious dogs. Don't feel guilty about using these cake mixes, that's what they're out there for. I do have a tip, however, to make your cakes rise a bit more. The majority of cake mixes advise to bake at 350 degrees - I find this is too hot. I turn my oven down to 325 degrees, and my cakes come out taller and more fluffy.
Not every cake will bake perfectly level. In fact, not many of them do in my experience. I purchased the Wilton brand cake leveler, and it has been a God-send. They come in different sizes and are relatively inexpensive. I paid around $10 for mine, and I use it every time I decorate a cake. When making a layer cake, it's so much easier for me to use than a serrated knife to split my cake in two.
Icing Versus Fondant
When choosing how to cover your base cake, think of how you will need to store it. If you use fillings that need refrigerated, you will want to think twice about using fondant. Fondant tends to sweat when coming back to room temperature. Sometimes tears will also result, and they're not very fun to piece back together at the last minute. Another thing to consider is taste. Not everyone is a big fan of fondant. I find the marshmallow fondant is liked a little more than others, but it is very sweet.
Decorations For Your Cake
I'm not an artist. As such, I need a little help - ok, a lot of help - with my decorations. As always for me, Wilton has been a lifesaver in that department. They make some prepackaged edible decorations that look great. For this cake, I used their premade royal icing roses in two different sizes.
Another trick I've found along the way is to make my decorations using candy wafer melts. There are candy molds out there for just about anything you're looking for. The candy wafers come in some really great colors, too. If I can't find a color I'm looking for, I add a touch of Wilton gel icing colors to melted white wafers. The gels are tasteless and do not affect the flavor or consistency of the candy.
With a small paintbrush, you can "paint" any details in your candy molds before filling them completely. Fondant makes a great addition to add detail as well. On the Mad Hatter's top hat, I rolled out some tinted marshmallow fondant and made the green ribbon around the base of the hat as well as the tag that sticks up. On the teapot, I made the blue heart out of wafer melts using a separate mold I had. I put some melted wafer candy on the back of the heart and stuck it right onto the teapot. It dried within a minute or two, and it really worked well for some edible glue.
Applying The Decorations
I worried about placing my decorations. In my mind, I had a lot of ideas about placement of the candy pieces, but making them stay where I wanted was another story. I thought to myself, "How do I make these stick?" And that was my answer... a stick!! I inserted a lollypop stick or two into the candies before they were completely dry, and I used those as anchors into my cake. Works like a charm!!
Tying It All Together
For my Alice In Wonderland cake, I used the Wilton premade icing roses to tie in The Red Queen. I molded a teapot, tea cup, saucer, and spoon out of candy wafer melts to represent the Tea Party. I'm a big fan of using cupcakes to display parts of a "scene", and let's face it - people love cupcakes! For this particular cake, I used candy molds to make the shapes from playing cards (heart, club, diamond, and spade). I sprinkled each cupcake with the alternate color of sugar to give them a little more "pop".
Working With Marshmallow Fondant - Some Helpful Tips
- A helpful hint when making your own marshmallow fondant - always grease everything you use when making marshmallow fondant. To say it's very sticky is a gross understatement. I use Crisco to grease my stirring spoon, rolling pin, melting bowls, and my hands. I also grease my counter top when rolling out the fondant.
- It's best to double wrap your fondant in plastic wrap and let it settle overnight - but remember to grease up your hands and smooth some Crisco over your fondant blocks before wrapping.