Project Wedding Cake (iii)

7 Aug

I have spent the last two days on the sofa reading about cake, and watching that many youtube videos that I think I could quite easily become a cake icing commentator now. If such a person doesn’t exist, they should. When I  haven’t been reading about cake or watching videos about cake, I have been thinking about cake – and when I’m not thinking about cake I’m talking about cake. I’ve become a bit like Alex the lion from Madagascar, where he’s so obsessed with hunger that his friend Marty starts to look like a walking, talking roast dinner – everything looks like cake. And I’ve made some new discoveries.

  1. Cream cheese is apparently a ‘hazardous’ food. This means that it shouldn’t be left in the ‘danger zone’ (between 41-135 degrees F) for over four hours, or my nightmares of poisoning friends and guests may come to fruition. However, the food code I was looking at doesn’t take the sugar content of the frosting into account, and bacteria hates really high sugar. So I might give myself a couple of hours lee-way. If you want to get around this, a buttercream or ganache would be a much better option as these don’t require refrigeration.
  2. Fondant icing doesn’t like refrigeration, which creates a slightly awkward dilemma. Do I refrigerate the cake to avoid poisoned guests from bacteria ridden cream cheese frosting, and risk all of the fondant icing slipping round to high heavens, ruining potential decorations and in some cases appearing to pool water from Lord knows where, or do I leave the cake out to ensure the most beautiful cake I can create, but most certainly end up with around one hundred very sick people. Hmm…decisions decisions. The problem arises because when fondant comes out of the fridge and straight into the warmth, it begins to ‘sweat’. From what I’ve read, one way to get around this is to put the cake in a paper box (apparently helps to absorb some of the moisture), wrap the box tightly in clingfilm, refrigerate, and don’t unwrap the clingfilm until everything is at room temperature. I’ve also read that it only really becomes a big issue if you have used intricate coloured detail on the cake, as the ‘sweating’ causes the colours to bleed. I’ve currently got one cake on the side having been in the fridge for two days, and I’m leaving it to come to room temperature until I look at it properly, so fingers crossed. Again, to avoid these anxieties, a buttercream or ganache would be a more sensible option.
  3. Cream cheese frosting and fondant aren’t the best of friends (it was at this point that I started to think maybe I should just go with a buttercream, so that points 1, 2 and 3 would no longer be a problem – but in my mind red velvet just isn’t the same without cream cheese frosting. *bashes head against wall*. Typical.). Apparently the cream cheese can somehow cause the fondant to begin to break down, creating a big mushy mess (I think that this has something to do with the water content of the cream cheese). I’ve been doing a ridiculous amount of reading about cream cheese frosting, and have come across some different recipes. By adding vegetable shortening to the recipe it helps the frosting to ‘crust’ and harden, which reduces the risk of aforementioned mushy fondant mess. I’m going to try out a new recipe this week. I’m hoping that this might also give me a cleaner edge (I’m also considering substituting half of the icing sugar for royal icing all in one mix, but from what I’ve read you can lose the royal icing consistency due to a reaction between the butter and the egg whites. Might leave this idea alone for the time being).
  4. After a bit of umming and ahhing, I bit the bullet and decided to buy some new tools. I’m trying not to think about this too much because I wasn’t supposed to be spending any money as I don’t really have any to spend, but I managed to pick up some bits and bobs on amazon quite cheaply and I had a bit of a voucher left over from a present from the wonderful PD ♥. 
    I also hope they remain part of my baking kitchen for a long time. I love my old wooden rolling pin dearly, but as he has handles he didn’t give me quite the smoothness of icing I was hoping for when rolling out the fondant. I’ve gone for a non-stick polyethylene one as apparently they are the best for working with fondant. I’ve also bought two cake smoothers; after watching ‘Michelle Cake Designs‘ get some stunning edges on her cake, I thought I’d give it a go with the two smoothers (bear in mind that she has used chocolate ganache underneath though). I’ve also got myself a cake leveller to try and reduce the wonk, a palette knife for easier frosting and lifting of cakes, and a set square. A set square? Yes, a set square. This is a little tip I also picked up from Michelle – she uses a set square to get a very straight, very vertical line on her cakes, by resting the base of the set square on the table and using the longer arm of the set square to sweep off any unwanted frosting. It’s all starting to sound quite technical, isn’t it?!
  5. I’m still in two minds about the thickness of the separator boards. I’m thinking that instead of using the thickest cake board, I might just use two thin cake boards and stick them together with some royal icing.
  6. There are different ways to cover the main cake board. I’ve decided that I’ll more than likely go for a ‘cover-the-entire-board’ approach. This will mean I can do it before I’ve even started any of the baking,  and it should be well and truly hardened up enough to support the weight of the cake when it comes to assembly.

In the meantime I can confirm that my fondant is indeed sweating. Oh deary, deary me. I am going to sit here and watch the triathlon in hope that in the next 90 minutes my cake will have miraculously dried out…otherwise it might be back to the drawing board to try and get my hands on a different type of fondant. Sigh.

Note: the fondant did dry out around 3-4 hours later. I also sprinkled a little cornflour (cornflour is finer than icing sugar) onto the top to try and soak up some of the moisture. I’ve read this afternoon that bicarbonate of soda is a good humidity controller, so I’ll pop a little bottle-top full of it into the box with the cake when I put it in the fridge. I can’t stop eating the cake…..I swear I’m going to be unrecognisable by the end of this project. *Groan*.

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One Response to “Project Wedding Cake (iii)”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Camden Coffee House, Balham « DrinksAndNibbles - August 8, 2012

    […] was around about Tooting and Balham today doing a bit of stocking up for my latest wedding cake adventures, so I thought I’d rest my weary feet and have a coffee at Camden Coffee House. PD and I have […]

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