rolled fondant icing mystery

(27 Posts)
mumbug Wed 15-May-13 22:10:17

Does anyone have a clue how this fondant icing miracle might have been done?

DS1 is 3 soon and wants a double decker bus for a cake. I can't find anyone locally to order one from so I've read up tips on MN, and I'm ready to work out dimensions of bus, then bake a moist vanilla cake or a nigella buttermilk cake, freeze, cut, crumb icing (freeze again?), then roll out my icing and that's where I'm lost.

Most howto's I've seen involve draping the fondant over the cake and smoothing, but

- if you cut out those windows before you'd get it all distorted,
- if you cut them out afterwards it would be too easy to cut into the black layer of icing below (unless maybe there's some paper lining that you pull out afterwards?)
- if you make flat panels and cut the windows all nice and square then how do get rid of the seams where the panels are joined

LadyDamerel Tue 04-Jun-13 00:19:31

Oh yay, you did it!!

It looks fabulous, if that's your first attempt at this sort of cake decorating then you need to carry on.

Honestly, I would find that cake a challenge and I reckon I've decorated well over 350 cakes so to get a result that good on your first go is just brilliant. You definitely have a talent there.

Will you do something less tricky again next year?

It looks brilliant!

I wouldn't have the patience to do all that, I must confess. Last birthday, DD got a number-shaped cake with some flowers on it. Not sure what's up next, but I'm feeling inspired.

mumbug Mon 03-Jun-13 22:13:26

It is done and I got away with it!

Everything that could go wrong did go wrong:

- bbc's easy vanilla cakes collapsed and were too thin in my pans, so I made nigella's buttermilk ones too and used them instead
- I tried making that egg-white/golden syrup butter-cream, and it was lovely the night before but disintegrated when I stirred it the next morning, probably too soon after getting it out of the fridge, so I made some ordinary buttermilk and that was ok
- my white chocolate ganache crumb coating separated (I think that's because I got it too hot) but after I googled a bit I read that you could just pour away the fat and use it anyway, so I did that and it worked ok but the cake was a bit wonky in the end

I nearly reached gave up when rolling out the red icing layer. There was so much of it it was really hard physically hard work. My palms felt bruised afterwards. I spent too much time obsessing about getting it the right size to cover my bus (which was annoyingly just a few cm bigger than my rolling out mat, in both directions). By that time it was cracking a bit. I finally realised that I could make it a bit smaller but nice and thick and it would relax to cover the whole cake and it pretty much worked.

So after this catalogue of disasters I was amazed to end up with something I was pleased with. Even more to find that when we sliced it it looked and tasted like nice cake.

Thanks go to youtube, and to all of you for your tips, tricks and warnings.

btw cutting out the windows and putting in the black glazing was much easier than I expected. I would even have been able to get them straighter and neater if I hadn't been so exhuasted and past caring grin

LadyDamerel Tue 28-May-13 23:13:45

What did you decide in the end?

mumbug Sun 26-May-13 23:00:44

I'm baking tomorrow shock
Still don't know whether to do bbc's moist vanilla, or nigella's buttermilk birthday cake. I've made nigella's before and it was fine. The other one looks nice though.
Not sure whether to add food colouring to it yet either confused

LadyDamerel Sat 25-May-13 20:57:19

blush Thank you, you're very kind. I don't do it as much now I'm back at work but it's a great hobby if you like fiddling about.

The wedding party cake took hours but the final effect was worth it! All the figures were based on the actual members of the wedding party, including the outfits so it was a really personal cake, which I thought was lovely.

When do you start The Big Red Bus project?

mumbug Wed 22-May-13 23:41:35

no, those cakes are awesome LadyDamerel
I can't stop looking at your wedding party. That's a cake!?

mumbug Wed 22-May-13 23:28:12

Wow LadyDamerel, I've just seen you've got cakes on your profile.
They look great, especially that mini right now! :D

EdwiniasRevenge, I did think about doing a flat bus but when I mentioned it that posibility to DH he said it would be a cop out. Even though DH can barely boil an egg I feel like I can't really do that now.

Does anyone know if these psychedelic marble cakes taste foul with all that food dye? It would be good to have a surprise under all the icing but at least something should be edible in it I think.

LadyDamerel Mon 20-May-13 23:43:29

Cutting it is easy, Edwinia. You just do it as you would an ordinary cake then you can cut each large slice to the size you want.

It honestly won't be that unstable to decorate. If each layer of cake is stuck to the layer below with jam or buttercream and it's all square (which it will be if you take your time on the initial shaping) then you won't have an issue, I promise.

If it is for a non discerning 3 yo I would bake (or cut to shape) a rectangular cake.

Completely cover in red icing. Add the details on top of the icing.

I would do it as a 'laying down' bus and use oreos for wheels. I think a standing up bus would be a) unstable to decorate b) difficult to decorate and c) how the hell will you cut it.

LadyDamerel Mon 20-May-13 23:26:57

That sounds more sensible if you're a novice! And he is only 3 - he won't be expecting a scale replica of a Routemaster, as long as it's red and has 2 rows of windows I'm sure he'll be chuffed to bits grin.

You want the crumb coating to still be soft (not crusted over) so that the fondant sticks to it which is why I do it in one go.

However, you could just as easily carve and crumb coat one day, leave it overnight then put another thin layer of buttercream over the crumb coat just before you ice it.

With a cake like this, the key is to get the underlying shape right so don't rush the carving. Use a ruler and a set square (helps keep the sides vertical), and a sharp serrated knife.

mumbug Mon 20-May-13 23:16:37

Hmm, yes, I was never going to do the back door recess and stairs, but I had been thinking about the drivers recess. It is probably unnecessary though. All DS wants is a red double decker bus. It would be more sensible to buy him a new non-routemaster die-cast toy bus (more like the ones he actually sees on the street) and model the cake on that.

If it's easier to work with a frozen cake should I not do the crumb coating and filling the night before my day off? I was thinking it would be good to have a whole day to focus just on the fondant.

<off to look for a modern double decker bus toy on amazon>

LadyDamerel Mon 20-May-13 23:00:10

Oh and size-wise. It's going to be very tall so you don't need to make a huge cake to get a lot of servings. If I was doing it I'd probably bake 3x 8" square cakes using 3 large eggs (so approx 7.5oz of flour, butter, sugar) in each cake.

Then I'd take 2/3" off the side of each one to make a rectangle and add it to the back so I had a cake that's approx 10/11" long and 5/6" wide and about 6/7" tall (plus the height of the base plinth).

If you're planning on making a vanilla sponge then jam and buttercream are the filling to go with. Use ganache if you're making chocolate cake.

You will need to cut out the window recesses as soon as you've covered it in red. If you let it crust over then it will crack as you try and cut them out and you won't get a nice sharp edge. But once you've cut them out it's probably easier to let it all harden off as you won't squash the red as you insert the black, if that makes sense.

Cover the board and the plinth at least a day in advance and stick them in the airing cupboard to dry out, then you won't dint the icing as you work on the cake.

LadyDamerel Mon 20-May-13 22:46:55

Looking again at the original picture, I suspect that it's actually been made in two layers; the white stripe around the bottom of the top deck is hiding the join. The top layer is on a thin board of its own, which is why the bits over the driver's window and rear doors are so straight.

Mumbug, if this is the first time you've worked with fondant I'd suggest NOT doing the recessed driver's window and rear door. Just do a tall rectangle with a curved top edge, cover the whole thing in red then add the details.

Honestly, I'm a really experienced cake decorator and I would quake at that recessed window grin.

WRT putting a thin black layer underneath, I'd say you'd be making life much harder than you need to. You would need to stick the red icing to the black icing without getting any water in the places where you'd be cutting out windows, etc. Go with the cutting out and sticking black into the gaps, you'll save yourself so much stress!

Dowelling is another extra complication you probably don't need to worry about. Usually you use dowels to support the weight of each layer in a tiered cake which are all made on separate boards, so the cakes don't collapse into each other. It really won't make the bus any more stable. Just cut the base plinth 1 cm narrower all round than the bottom of the cake and make sure the cake sits centrally on it - it will be fine, I promise.

Re. freezing it. If I'm doing carved cakes I freeze them then carve them straight from the freezer because it's much, much easier to work with frozen sponge. You can do the filling, crumb coating and even the fondant before it's fully defrosted, it won't adversely affect it.

Time scale wise....it takes me a good 6+ hours to do a vehicle cake and I know what I'm doing grin. Start early is all I can say!

::hazy memories of being up until 3am finishing a steam engine::

Good Luck! Shout if you need help...

mumbug Mon 20-May-13 22:23:58

Thanks again everyone for all the tips.

CrazyOldCatLady I hear you but for better or worse I'm committed to having a go now. I'm confident I'll end up with something that looks a bit like a bus, at least to DS, if not much like that beautiful one linked to.

Apart from cracking icing (working fast is the key I hear...?), one of the thing that scares me most the fact that the bus is higher than it is wide. And if it's on a smaller black plinth that makes it even more unstable. I've been looking up putting dowels in to stabilise cakes.

It's all feeling like a real mission now.
I have ordered:
4kg of red fondant
3kg of black
1kg of grey
500g of white
250g of yellow
250g of blue
(not sure what the blue is for hmm ) plus edible glue, non-stick rolling pins, cutting tools etc etc

I've booked a day off work to do all the fondant work the day before the party. Plan to make the cake a few days before and freeze it. Then thaw it and do crumb coating the night before.

Currently trying to work out how big to make the whole thing and whether to do a ganache or buttercream crumb coating and/or filling.

Also I'm wondering if I need cut the windows out of the red layer as soon as as it's gone on, or if I can take a break at that point. Could I do the red layer of icing the night before, then add the details the next morning?

Last time I did fondant layers, I fixed them together with a little water. However, that was just putting coloured dots onto a white background.

Absolutely reinforce the 'have more fondant than you think you need' and 'allow twice the amount of time'.

However, the good thing about the bus shape is that you can have visible joins as they can indicate the different bits of bus. So you may not need to have one smooth draped bit.

I've only made a few shaped, fondanted cakes, and found the interweb a great place for tutorials.

CrazyOldCatLady Fri 17-May-13 12:01:10

The stronger colours also make the fondant more likely to tear, I find.

Have you done a fondanted cake before? Because I've done a few and to be honest, there's not a chance in hell I'd attempt something like that bus. It's nowhere near as easy as it looks!

Skiffle Fri 17-May-13 11:57:00

Be careful not to do the fondant too thick, it's a balancing act - I find the darker colourings, particularly red and black, have the least pleasant flavour so it's best not to have it really thick if possible.

mumbug Wed 15-May-13 22:50:54

LadyDamerel many thanks for all those tips!

mumbug Wed 15-May-13 22:47:27

cross posted MrsCosmopilite

that's what I was originally planning, a black wrap of icing, then a red one.

I guess that if i did cut through the black one I could just put in a new window as suggested above

What happens when you layer fondant icing layers? Would you need to put something sticky in between to give them something to hang on it?

I will certainly post a picture

LadyDamerel Wed 15-May-13 22:44:03

Eek. At least a kilo, maybe a kilo and a half to be on the safe side because it will be tall too.

LadyDamerel Wed 15-May-13 22:41:50

Do what Metellaestinhortobibit says. Roll your red icing to about 5 or 6mm thick, and the black to about 2mm.

You might need to spread a little bit more buttercream into the window spaces to help the black to stick properly.

Do the same for the wheels too.

When I make vehicles I make the black 'space' at the bottom out of several pieces of cardboard box-type card stuck together to make a board about 5mm narrower all round than the bottom of the cake then cover it in black icing so you get the overhang of the edges of the vehicle. If you make it about 1cm high it works really well. Then you can use a thinner piece of card covered in foil as a board to go under the bottom of the cake and on top of the black base.

Hope that makes sense and good luck!!

Oh and last tip is to allow twice as much time as you think you'll need, there's a lot of fiddling about with vehicle cakes.

mumbug Wed 15-May-13 22:40:58

aaaaah yes! Metellaestinhortobibit thank you
never thought of that

if you were doing it, how much red fondant would you order?
I've got no idea how far one of those 250g will go
i'm planning a cake roughly 25cm long

What a great cake! I reckon you'd need to put a THIN layer of black on, then the red, and cut the windows out. You're unlikely to cut through all the layers, so could prise the windows out without disturbing the 'underlay' so to speak, I think.

Will you come back and post pictures of your cake? I have a horrible feeling DD is going to want a tractor for her next one!

Metellaestinhortobibit Wed 15-May-13 22:30:01

Meant to say good luck, it's a great cake smile

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