A friend of mine is a keen ice skater, so when I was asked to design a cake for her 40th birthday, the obvious sprung to mind. After having a mooch on my favourite Pinterest app, I found a number of different ideas including fondant ice skates, 3D numbers and lots of snowflakes (I’m sensing the winter wonderland theme here!) The only thing is, I very rarely work with fondant, unless making small fondant flowers for cupcakes which is usually on a much smaller scale!
Have you ever worked with fondant icing before to model? It’s definitely a lot of fun, but I certainly found it more difficult then I first thought it would be! I have to admit that it took me a few goes of different designs to come up with the winner. I first went with a 3D character, solid fondant throughout with detailed birthday badge and small tiara (I mean who doesn’t want to be a princess on their birthday!) It took an age to get right and I still wasn’t happy with it when I thought I had finally finished it.
The face and body just seemed too wide and out of proportion. I didn’t lose too much sleep when the legs snapped off! I think they were just too thin with too much weight in the boots at the ends! And as the fondant dried hard, the cracks were obvious to see, meaning it would have lost strength. Looking back, it’s clear why the legs broke off so easily, but was good practice for next time!
Round 2 went to the 3D ice skater in action. I had some spare florist wire in the jungle that is my baking cupboard, and thought it would be worth a try to give the character a more solid stance. It was all going so well until it came to adding the body to the legs .. With a thick solid fondant jumper the weight simply bent the wire until the top half drooped! A shame because I really thought I was getting somewhere! Not being too disheartened, I always believe in the saying “third time lucky.” And lucky for me, the third try pulled through! Sometimes, although you have this great idea you think is “the one,” you really do need to work within your comfort zone until you build the confidence in yourself to push the boundaries. I think personally, I started off with something that was too complicated for my skill set.
Working with different colours and different thicknesses was definitely a challenge compared to the standard fondant rose, which although delicate, are solid and simple sink into the buttery goodness of the cupcake topping.
In the end, I settled with 3D ice skating boots! And I have to say, I am very happy with the way they turned out. Don’t get me wrong, they were still quite tricky to do, what with trying to get each boot the same dimensions thickness and the same size. The detailing was also a little tricky, but I think I mastered it by the end! As a bit of a novice in this field, I definitely found it a challenge to get them right and make sure they were as perfect as they were going to be! The detailing is a mixture of coloured fondants and painting with the Wilton Icing Colours (something I swear by and would always recommend to a fellow baker – the colours are rich and I am always happy with the colour finish!), with wafer snowflakes and edible silver balls. The cake itself is a classic vanilla sponge with a butter cream and jam middle, covered in a thin layer of plain white fondant icing and finished with delicate letter cut outs which are held in place by small amounts of watery icing powder. I was really happy with the overall look and I think the birthday girl was too! It’s definitely inspired me to work on my fondant modelling skills, and work hard to perfect. I may also enrol in a cake decorating course which specialises in fondant covering and modelling. Cupcakes are definitely my thing, but it would be a real achievement to branch out and create beautiful pieces of fondant art to show off on top of the perfect cake!
Do you have any tips when it comes to modelling with fondant?