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Can anybody help this overly-ambitious novice baker?

(18 Posts)
SniffyBee Thu 11-Jan-18 19:30:21

As stated, I'm a bit of a novice when it comes to baking, so please be kind!

It's my son's 2nd birthday on Saturday and I'm planning (probably foolishly given my limited skills) to make him a Henry Hoover cake. I'm aiming for something like this (though the outcome will probably be a little... different!):

The actual baking bit I think I'm ok with: I'm planning a 4 layer vanilla birthday sponge. It's the decorating I'm a bit concerned about (I've never used fondant before). Mainly, I'm not sure how to get the two separate red and black bits - every tutorial etc. I've seen for using fondant is just using a single colour. I've come up with a few different ideas for how I might do this:

1. Assemble the bottom two layers and apply the red icing, then apply black over the top two as if a separate cake, before putting whole thing together.

2. Assemble whole cake, then apply red to bottom and black to top separately.

3. Assemble whole cake, apply red all over, then black on top of the red on the top of the cake (would that make the icing too thick?).

Which of these sounds most doable? Or indeed, does anyone have a better idea?

Also, is buttercream under the fondant totally necessary (apologies if that's a really stupid question)?

Thanks for reading, if you made it this far!

OP’s posts: |
SniffyBee Fri 12-Jan-18 16:44:59


OP’s posts: |
Pluckedpencil Fri 12-Jan-18 16:48:41

Not an expert but I'd say option 2 with a lot of apricot jam to stick it well on where it doesn't go over the top

FreezerBird Fri 12-Jan-18 16:51:17

By no means an expert, but I'd go for option 3, rolling the black fondant quite thinly.

Also I'd definitely do buttercream under - it functions as a sort of glue!

Bear in mind also that in my experience black fondant tastes horrible! So people might well peel that bit off and put it aside anyway.

extinctspecies Fri 12-Jan-18 16:52:07

Option 2.

The extra band of black icing is there to hide the join between the red & black & make it look neater.

I think you can leave the buttercream off if you use jam instead, but you need some 'glue'.

(Not an expert)

wonderingagain21 Fri 12-Jan-18 16:54:09

I would put the top section on a tin or something slightly smaller in diameter. Then ice the top black section and you should be able to trim any black icing that hangs over the edge with a lknife.

Then you can put this black top section on top of the other cake & wrap a long red rectangle around the bottom half. I think you will struggle without the buttercream as it helps the fondant stick but it can be a very thin layer & if pushed you can get it readymade in the supermarkets.

ElphabaTheGreen Fri 12-Jan-18 16:54:50

Yes, buttercream underneath is essential as it's what holds the fondant onto the cake and holds it flat. Don't underestimate how tricky smoothing is - it looks dead easy with the right tools but it really isn't. It takes a lot of practice to get the kind of finish in the picture you attached. Don't expect yours to look like that if you've not done it before!

I'd go for red all over then the black over the red. Yes it will be thick but it's practically the law with this kind of cake. I ordered a custom camper van cake (way beyond my limited skills) for DS1's 5th birthday and I counted six layers of fondant on one area.

If you've never done fondant before I strongly recommend you buy pre-rolled, pre-coloured fondant, or you will be smashing Henry up in a rage before you've finished!

Good luck! I've done fondant decorated cakes for each of my DSs' first birthdays. Never's way harder than it looks, even the easy cakes!

MerryMarigold Fri 12-Jan-18 16:58:12

I think what wondering said sounds great. Where the black and red meet, you can put a black strip all around as that is what the real Henrys have.

PrivateParkin Fri 12-Jan-18 17:02:32

Fondant icing is really hard to do IMO. Have you thought about colouring buttercream and smoothing that on instead (I've done that for shaped cakes before, eg fire engine etc) and it's a bit rough and ready, but I prefer it trying to get fondant smooth! Your option 1 would work with buttercream I think. It's a great idea for a cake btw.

100YearsOfVote Fri 12-Jan-18 17:02:49

I would do 2 and the strip would cover the join.

You do need buttercream - at least a "crumb coat".

You can buy edible "glue" to glue the fondant eyes and things on.

It looks fairly straightforward. Well I say that but I have "hot hands" and find fondant work quite tricky. Turn the heating down I say grin

SniffyBee Fri 12-Jan-18 17:21:30

Thanks everyone. I've made the cake and buttercream so it's already to decorate this evening once LO has gone to bed. Still not decided which option to go with (most of you seem to be suggesting 2), but I'm reassured that they've all been endorsed! I didn't think about how to glue eyes etc. on! Will strawberry jam work - I don't think I can manage a last minute shopping trip?!

OP’s posts: |
SniffyBee Fri 12-Jan-18 17:24:07

Elphaba don't worry, I'm well aware that the end result is unlikely to look like that! Luckily it's just going to be a family day so won't be many people to judge!

OP’s posts: |
ElphabaTheGreen Fri 12-Jan-18 18:36:21

You really do need the edible glue, unfortunately. The eyes and other attachments will just slide down the cake if you use jam.

wonderingagain21 Fri 12-Jan-18 19:44:27

I think you can add a drop of boiling water to some fondant icing. If you squidge it about you can make edible glue - think a kind of gel/paste consistency. (I'm sure I did this once but it was a while ago). The jam would probably slip. Otherwise could you use a bit of buttercream?

ElphabaTheGreen Sat 13-Jan-18 09:47:31

How did it go, OP?

SniffyBee Sat 13-Jan-18 19:14:15

Surprisingly well Elphaba, thanks. In the end I cover the top section in black separately and wrapped red around the base, before sticking the whole thing together. I did as wondering suggested and used water to stick the eyes etc. I actually found the hardest part was the band around the middle, joining the two parts - that definitely gives away my amateur skills. DS was delighted with it though (he's totally obsessed with Henry!).

OP’s posts: |
yawning801 Sat 13-Jan-18 19:19:35

We need pictures! Pleeeease, OP?

ElphabaTheGreen Sat 13-Jan-18 20:18:44

Yes, yawning, that was my breathlessly anticipated response as well grin

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