It's been a rough month. I've learned that working two jobs is no easy thing, especially when both of us are sick the whole time. I'm still thankful for a chance to work at a unique facility with the friendliest staff I've ever met. But here at the Vaughan house we're dancing for joy at the close of such a stinky time! (Really, I just danced). Now that I've regained some energy and free time I can get back to blogging.
Several weeks ago I posted the first half of the Jungle Cake process, so I figured I would finish it out in case you're still burning with curiosity. : ) The main thing I've learned so far in my cake endeavors is that success has much more to do with time than talent. This is encouraging to newbies like me, because as long as we have enough time and LOTS of patience, we can make just about anything!
With my tiers frosted and refrigerated, it was time for the fun - fondant. First up was the white cover for the bottom tier. I took some fondant out of the package, massaged it until pliable, and rolled it out to a little less than 1/4-inch thickness. To know when my circle was big enough, I measured the height of the tier, multiplied by two, and added the diameter of the top of the tier, plus a few inches of wiggle room (not really rocket science when you look at it). So, for a 10-inch cake that's 4 inches tall, you would need a piece of fondant that's about 20 inches wide in all directions. Some people like to dust their surfaces with cornstarch or powdered sugar, but I smear mine with a little bit of shortening. When my circle was big enough, I lifted an edge and laid it over my rolling pin. I continued peeling up the fondant and loosely wrapping it around the rolling pin until it was all up.
|Rolling out the light brown fondant|
To drape the fondant over the cake I just unwound it from the rolling pin. If your frosting is cold, you should be able to pick up the fondant and move it if it's not centered. Smoothing the fondant requires picking up an edge, pressing a small area against the side of the cake, and moving on to a bit nearby until the whole cake is smooth. Once that was done, I trimmed the excess with a pizza cutter and rubbed the whole thing down with a fondant smoother to get out any bubbles. I repeated this process with light brown fondant for the smaller tier, but of course, I had to color it first. I actually had a big tear in the fondant on my top tier, which I chose to patch and ignore as it was really late at night!
|My newly covered tier|
|Trimmed and ready for decorating (still not perfectly smooth)|
Since dark fondant colors take a ton of coloring and usually don't turn out quite right, I used precolored black and dark brown fondant from a set of skin-colored fondant for my animal prints. To make the zebra stripes I rolled out black fondant and used a utility knife (none of our paring knives were sharp enough) to cut thin, pointed strips. I flipped each strip over and wet it lightly with a small paintbrush. Then I pressed it gently onto the surface of the white tier. Since the center would be covered, I periodically set the 6-inch cake pan on top to be sure it would look right when stacked. The process was the same for the giraffe print, except that I cut block-like shapes.
|Adding stripes one at a time|
|Cutting and wetting stripes|
|Giraffe print (you can see the seam from my fondant patch)|
Before I stacked my cake I needed to cover my cake board. I stacked together two cake bases with a little icing in between and secured them with tape. Then, I rolled out a large piece of green fondant a little thicker than I would for a cake and draped it over my board. I ended up with a small tear in my fondant, but that was covered by the cake. I trimmed the excess while leaving a little bit to tuck under the edge and smoothed the fondant as I did with the cake tiers.
|Covered cake board|
With my board ready it was time to stack the cake. Since I didn't like the wooden dowels I used for my practice wedding cake I bought some hollow plastic dowels to use this time. I feel like these provide much more sturdy support. I inserted one dowel in each spot I planned to place a cut dowel and marked the height of the cake each time. I cut four dowels even with the lowest mark on my measuring dowel and inserted them in the holes. Then, I smeared a dab of icing on the cake board and placed the bottom tier in the center. Before topping it with the other tier I spread some icing on the top to work as glue. Once my tiers were stacked I measured a wooden dowel to the height of my cake and pushed it through both tiers, including the cardboard circle beneath the top tier. My dowel happened to be sharp at the end - otherwise I could have used a pencil sharpener.
|Dowels inserted and ready for stacking|
The grass turned out to be an incredibly easy way to seal the tiers together and add something really special to the cake. To get the effect, I colored buttercream icing green and put it in a decorating bag fitted with a grass tip. I placed the tip near the cake surface and squeezed briefly while pulling the tip away from the cake. The results were perfect! I went all the way around the cake and then filled in any spots that looked sparse. It probably took less than a minute.
|After adding the grass|
With my cake ready I was only missing my animals. I didn't want my lion to blend in with the giraffe pattern, so I cut a circle from the fondant left from covering my cake board and placed the lion on top of it. Since my figures were formed on lollipop sticks I inserted the lion's stick directly into the cake, just adjacent to my dowel. Then I snipped off the bottoms of the sticks from the monkey and elephant using kitchen shears and placed them on the cake board. Finally, all I had left to do was take pictures!
So, what do you think? Any ideas for my next cake adventure?