Useful Things I Learned in High School

The teacher in me wants to tell you that I’m going to elaborate on how math and science have become invaluably useful in my post high school careers, and I’m sure in some capacity they have. Alas, those are not the skills I’m thinking of. When I told my husband about this post his response made me smile. It was the happy, slightly raised eye-browed “Oh yeah?!” that I was looking for. One of the joys of living with an artist is their appreciation for the unexpected.

Will said skills pay the bills? Probably not, but I’m happy with them anyway. I’m talking, of course, of the skills I learned in art class. I had two fantastic ceramics teachers, and every time I find myself in the kitchen making specialty cakes I think fondly of Mr. Hibel & Mr. Matas.

Cake EmbellishedOkay, the tie-fighter and the tie-intercepter aside, the fondant on this cake makes me think of my art teachers. The memory triggered has nothing to do with the finished product, but more how I got there. The process of kneading the fondant always reminds me of working with clay. I can’t make fondant without mentally acknowledging that I know how to knead clay, and that base skill can be applied to kneading a sticky pile of fondant into a useable substance that can result in the above. I will say that the piping around the bottom is shameful and makes me cringe, but let’s not focus on the negative :)

I also have a confession to make – I can’t stand fondant. It’s weird. Too sweet, strange texture, and it’s dryness is rarely appetizing to me. When I was asked to do my first wedding cake with it I was not thrilled. There had to be another option, and of course there was. Thanks internet!

Marshmallow Fondant

About 2 Tbsp softened butter, set aside
16 oz mini marshmallows
4 Tbsp water
1 tsp vanilla
2 lbs confectioners sugar (set 1 c aside)

Marshmallows

Yep, marshmallow fondant. This has been the solution to my fondant problem. And this recipe is fairly easy, but does require a bit of elbow grease.

Place your marshmallows into a microwave safe bowl. I like to melt mine by microwaving them in 30 second intervals. It shouldn’t take too long, maybe 2 minutes.MeltingYou can stir between intervals, and you should end up with something like this. Add the water and the vanilla, and your mixture will deflate a bit.Melted

Here’s where it gets tricky. Switch over to an electric hand mixer, preferably a cheap one that you know well. You can’t add all that sugar at once, it will need to be done slowly – roughly one cup at a time. All of these marshmallows are incredibly sticky, and adding in the sugar is going to make them even stickier. Incorporating

The reason I suggest using a cheap hand mixer (mine probably cost me less than $10) is that you can over run you mixer, and I would hate to have you break an expensive mixer on my account. I know from personal experience how frustrating it is to be in the middle of a three tiered wedding cake and have to knead the rest of your fondant by hand – which is doable, but incredibly time consuming and a little frustrating at 2 in the morning. (The reason I say you should know your mixer well is so that you know when it’s about to break so you don’t have to “make do” at 2 in the morning…)

After each cup in incorporated you’ll notice that it becomes harder and harder to get everything incorporated. I usually notice this when I have about 2-3 cups of sugar left. Now it’s time to get to work. Pour your marshmallow mixture out onto a heavily sugared surface – part of why you were reserving a cup of sugar. Take that butter you were reserving and rub your hands in it. Yep, that’s what that was for – you’ll thank me later when you’re not cleaning marshmallow cream off of your hands.

Plenty of Sugar

You’re going to need to incorporate ALL of the remaining sugar. Yes, all of it. It’s going to take a little while. If you have them, put those artful kneading skills to use…NOW!Kneading and Reserve

You’ll need to keep kneading until you have all the sugar incorporated, and the fondant is no longer shiny. This took me somewhere between 5 and 10 minutes.Kneading Completed

Once you’re finished kneading divide up any fondant you want colored (I’ll get to that in a minute), wrap the dough in plastic, and refrigerate for 8 hours.

To use the fondant for a cake, simply let it come to room temperature and roll it out onto a surface covered in powdered sugar.Rolling

If you haven’t worked with fondant before you’ll want to make sure your cake has some spreadable icing, or chocolate (I used a raspberry ganache) to adhere to.

If you wanted to add color to the fondant I suggest doing it before you refrigerate. It requires a bit more sugar and the food gel coloring of your choice. Take your fondant and spread in some coloring.Adding color

You’ll need to re-sugar your surface before you start obviously, and be prepared to get messy. There is no neat way to go about this. Dive right in and start kneading the color into your fondant.Color Knead

See, messy. I like to use one hand to really get the gel incorporated as much as I can so both hands aren’t stained so badly (I made this 6 days ago and there are still traces of blue in my finger prints). Color Keep Kneading

Add sugar as necessary as the added gel will make the fondant a little stickier. Just keep kneading until all the color is incorporated with no white streaks left.Color Kneaded

Wash your hands thoroughly, and decorate as you see fit!Dressing Cake

Now that wasn’t so hard – a little messy, but not difficult. More importantly, it’s dang tasty. Delicious even :)

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3 thoughts on “Useful Things I Learned in High School

  1. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

    No words. Can't wait to get you photos of this cake being cut by a happy bride and groom with a US Army officer saber (not going to lie, it was pretty awesome).

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