Kitted Out

January 31, 2013

Fondant cake kits (for beginners, too!) help you make beautiful cakes at home!

by Raleigh-Elizabeth.

I am terrible with cake. I’m fine with the batter, and fine with the cake part itself, but once it comes to the layers and the frostings and — even scarier — the fondant, I’m over, done with, someone call a bakery and order one instead.

I once read that you could make fondant at home with marshmallows, and I decided to give it a shot. I made a delicious blackberry and meyer lemon cake for a friend’s baby shower, and after reading what seemed like easy-enough instructions, I was superbly confident that I could copy Martha’s Baby Block Cake with aplomb. I’d be feted with praise, hailed as the most glorious baker, and my satisfied, cake-stuffed friends would call for Food Network to give me my own show immediately through crumb-filled glee.

Back in reality, it turned out okay, but I also suggested friends maybe peel the fondant off before eating. My cake boss dreams were dashed. The cake might have been delicious, but as usual, the cake decorating foiled me again.

Enter Brys+Edgewood, cake rescuers, fondant simplifiers, and compatriots in the kitchen. Jessica, one of the cofounders, was equally inspired by the fancy-schmancy fondant covered cakes out there. And she too tried to make one at home. You can guess how the whole thing worked out.

Brys+Edgewood knew there had to be a better way. So they spent hours in the kitchen testing recipe after recipe and compiling the tricks of the trade. The result? A fondant cake kit you can actually do at home. Beginners encouraged. I can’t wait to give the stripey pink cake a go or maybe even this daunting-looking sweetosaurus dinosaur cake. A beautiful cake just waiting to happen… and I won’t even have to recommend that friends peel off the fondant before eating.

Tell me, do you have any tricks for decorating your cakes? Do you frost, ice, or use fondant? Or do you just call the local baker?

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

1 rachel swartley January 31, 2013 at 8:11 am

My best cake decorating trick is to teach your child to prefer angel food cake. Then all you have to do is stick in some fun candles and serve it with strawberries and whipped cream. ;)

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2 Raleigh-Elizabeth January 31, 2013 at 10:34 am

now THAT’s a smart idea. : )

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3 Grace@ Sense and Simplicity January 31, 2013 at 8:24 am

Is there a difference between frosting and icing? I always thought it was a regional/country thing. We ice our cakes here in Canada and I always do that and then decorate them with sprinkles or candy. I’m not a fondant fan (taste wise, although I love how they look) so we go for icing. Yum!

I have this book (http://www.amazon.com/Childrens-Birthday-Australian-Womens-Weekly/dp/0949892742) and one other by Australisn Women’s Weekly that I used frequently when my children were younger. They make super elaborate impressive cakes, but all done with using different shapes and sizes of pans, then cutting the cake, icing it in different colours, and decorating with candy. I’ve made a walrus, a mouse, a lion, a rainbow, a paint palette etc. My kids loved them and none involved fondant or piping the icing.

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4 Raleigh-Elizabeth January 31, 2013 at 10:34 am

Grace, what a fantastic cookbook! Thanks for sharing! I think I’m going to have to add it to my library.

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5 Hayley January 31, 2013 at 8:42 am

I am not a fan of fondant either. It seems such a waste to me to make a pretty cake, then throw away all the decorations because I don’t like the taste. Give me buttercream or give me death! :)

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6 Raleigh-Elizabeth January 31, 2013 at 10:37 am

this may be my new life motto: give me buttercream or give me death!

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7 shelley Taylor January 31, 2013 at 8:49 am

I’ve never cared for fondant, even from the professionals. It looks pretty, but I would much prefer to eat whipped cream frosting. And I second Rachel’s endorsement of angel food cake with strawberries and whipped cream. Yummy!

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8 Brandy January 31, 2013 at 9:03 am

I am in complete and utter sympathy with you! I have dreams of being a cake BOSS, and every year those dreams are shattered by the Marine Corps Bday cake. If you want to feel way better about your own skills, just take a look at my monstrosity! http://oneishungry.com/2012/11/12/semper-fi-marine-corps-birthday-cake-or-my-yearly-nervous-breakdown-part-2/ (I swear, this is the ugliest and most discouraging thing I make EVERY year!)
I’m sure yours is lovely by comparison :). As for fondant, I’ve never really had any desire to work with it. I’m not a lover of things that only look pretty and don’t taste good. Do you actually enjoy fondant, or just find it aesthetically appealing?

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9 Raleigh-Elizabeth January 31, 2013 at 10:41 am

First of all, Brandy, you do a GREAT job of the cake. I’m such a bad Marine Corps Wife – I totally ignore the birthday entirely minus finding some gown to squeeze into. (Please see: my cake and cheese problem.) But that cake is fantastic! I’m so impressed I have actually had fantastic fondant before, which is why I keep coming back to it (and why I’m going to try one of these kits). But I’ll confess, the marshmallow fondant is definitely not on the list of things I found tasty. And still, Hayley has it right – buttercream might just be an entirely better endeavor altogether. : )

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10 Hayley January 31, 2013 at 5:19 pm

When I got married, I irritated our baker because I wanted “white cake and buttercream icing”, not Italian creme, no fruit filling. Just plain cake, decorated pretty and some flowers on top. I am a bakery’s biggest nightmare! :)

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11 Lauren January 31, 2013 at 9:36 am

I’ve had great luck with ganache lately as an icing. You pour it on while it’s slightly warm and spreadable, smooth it out nice, and then let it set in the fridge. I usually prefer simple looking cakes that taste amazing to something fancy looking though.

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12 Raleigh-Elizabeth January 31, 2013 at 10:41 am

Oooh, Lauren, I’m going to have to try some ganache. I haven’t done it in ages. Thanks for the inspiration!

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13 JesR January 31, 2013 at 9:52 am

Okay, gal.
Get ready to have your face rocked off by your own awesomeness! I am a lover of baking, but never really mastered the art of “the perfect party cake”…….other than a rustic-on-purpose one. BUT I recently discovered the cake tutorials at your sister’s site, and I have to admit, it worked! I sucked it up and did a crumb coat, refrigerated overnight, and did the lovely scallop effect on top. Seriously, it took about 15 minutes, required minimal tools, and I was the Queen of the Party!

Go check it out now. You won’t be sorry.
http://ohhappyday.com/2012/09/styled-eats-how-to-perfectly-frost-a-scallop-cake/

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14 Sally from Little Hiccups January 31, 2013 at 11:51 am

I usually make regular icing for my cakes (icing sugar, butter, milk and vanilla essence) but every now and then I go for fondant for the smooth look. Fondant is so much easier than I first expected – just roll it out, place it on top of the cake and cut off the excess. It pretty much shapes itself around the cake so you don’t need to do much. Tomorrow I’m attempting a rainbow layer cake for the first time (eek!) and I’ll be covering it with plain white fondant. My daughter and her friends will then decorate the cake at her party by drawing on it with edible markers. Fingers crossed it works out!

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15 Raleigh-Elizabeth January 31, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Rainbow cakes are so much fun, Sally! Your daughter and her friends will love it. And drawing on the fondant sounds so much fun – let us know how it goes!

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16 Rebecca January 31, 2013 at 11:58 am

I make my frosting slightly warmer than room temperature so it almost pours and spreads super easy. I will frost in one solid color then once it is cool and set, I will use these sugar sheets that you can find at the craft store on the baking aisle. You can use scissors to cut shapes, letters, etc or even a stencil. They have tons of designs and colors from zebra print to balloon print to a glittery damask print. Once that’s on, go back with a bag of frosting and embellish it with dots on the corners and edges or whatever you want to do in coordinating colors.

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17 Raleigh-Elizabeth January 31, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Rebecca, I have never seen these sheets before! I clearly need to get myself to the baking aisle oat Michael’s ASAP! What do they taste like?

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18 Rebecca January 31, 2013 at 1:03 pm

They just taste like sugar. Super easy to use and look so professional! Check this link. They have a lot available online, but my Michael’s has a good selection as well. http://www.bakedeco.com/dept.asp?id=964#.UQrN2_KROSo

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19 Raleigh-Elizabeth January 31, 2013 at 1:08 pm

such a game changer! thank you so much for sharing!

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20 Maike January 31, 2013 at 2:00 pm

I find the cake itself is the most important part anyway.
Cakes that look amazing from the outside are very often boring from the inside.
But here is my decorating trick for my little girls birthday cake:
Bake any cake in a classic cake shape. Then make normal frosting. Here in Germany we usually do it with powdered sugar and lemon juice and food coloring or use instant frosting – both very easy. I used white and pink frosting the last time, pored it over the cake, first the white, then the pink. I baked a little extra cake to put on top of the big cake, so it had some kind of two floors (like a wedding cake). So with the two layers of frosting and the little cake on top, it already looked very good. Then I sprinkled M&Ms and gummibears all over the cake and put a little princess figure on top – looked absolutely amazing. I am an okay baker but that cake looked as if I could make a living of it. It looked messy and quirky and rich and everything a cake should look like. So if decorating is important, maybe for a grown up cake, I would use less colorful stuff, but then again: maybe not. It depends on the grown up, I guess.

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21 Kara January 31, 2013 at 2:04 pm

Fondant is SO beautiful, and flawless, but I love a cake that I can dig into! Frosting and all!! I posted a tutorial of frosting a layer cake here: http://karainthekitchen.com/?p=1067

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22 Let me eat keck January 31, 2013 at 3:41 pm

Keck.

Am I the only one who, upon encountering the word “cake,” doesn’t immediately hear Franck’s voice saying, “A keck of dis magnootud … Welcome to the 90′s Moster Bonks.”

Now, thanks to this great post and comments, I’m inspired. Hmm, so which keck should I tackle first?

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23 Hayley January 31, 2013 at 5:22 pm

Love that movie!

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24 Fashion for the Rest of Us January 31, 2013 at 7:20 pm

In Italy we do not decorate cakes! At the most, we can sprinkle some powder sugar on top or add a few marzipan figure but that’s it. This is my excuse for avoiding the fondant :)

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25 Amy Hackworth January 31, 2013 at 10:31 pm

This post, plus comments–so helpful! Gives me new hope!

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26 Claire January 31, 2013 at 11:52 pm

I never grew up with fondant-covered cakes and only discovered them later in life. Cakes were usually uncovered and eaten alone or with cream, or covered with chocolate ganache. I’d love to know where fondant comes from, really. What the history behind cake-eating is.

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27 Corina February 1, 2013 at 12:00 am

My trick is to outsource to someone who knows what they are doing! Even then none of us are fondant lovers so we always request chocolate ganache and fresh cream.

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28 Lara Wilder February 1, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Using the pastry cutter, trim off the excess fondant until it is flush with the bottom of the cake.

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29 Marie February 4, 2013 at 2:22 am

I use cheese frosting a lot, with butter, with cream, straight up with sugar. I have no interest in fondant, it’s too sweet for me but it is oh so pretty.

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30 DMC February 5, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Would you please share the blackberry and meyer lemon cake recipe?

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31 Ardis March 21, 2013 at 10:26 pm

This is the most crucial way by which your handmade vegan chocolate cupcakes will not only
look attractive and be perfectly suited for birthday
parties and similar such celebrations. An expert suggestion for you is that
you can create a beautiful cupcake tower too. A little purse is also likely to be popular as little
girls do love imitating their mothers.

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