since i am blessed to have a very light work load this semester (even though i’m taking a full class load), i’ve had a lot of time on my hands lately. i wouldn’t go as far as to say that i got bored last week, but i was sincerely in need of a project. just my luck– my friend Beth had a birthday coming up in just a few days! she’s a foodie too, so i decided she would appreciate an elaborate cake for her birthday present. and hey, two birds with one stone– i found a project and she got a sugary confection!
i found myself in a Michaels craft store and saw the new aisle of cake baking materials by the Ace of Cakes himself– Duff Goldman. Beth and i love Duff. i found inspiration down that aisle and decided to make a multi-tiered cake with fruit filling, covered in fondant. i’ve never worked with fondant before, but it looked like a really fun thing to try (not to mention it makes cakes look super professional)! i picked up 16 oz of pre-made white fondant, a fondant rolling pin, a package of fondant flowers, a package of disposable piping bags (or you can use ziplock bags, really), a pack of 4 plastic icing tips, and a 10-inch cardboard cake base. this does seem like a lot of things to get for one cake, but almost everything i purchased is reusable and, since i am sure i’ll be making more of these cakes in the future, it was an investment i was willing to make.
i planned out the cake flavor profile: two layers of almond cake, a layer of chocolate cake, between the layers would be filled with raspberry preserves and the whole shebang covered in a layer of fondant (which tends to be slightly marshmallow-y flavored).
my first step was to tint the fondant a pale-green color. you can buy already colored fondant, but it is considerably more expensive, and buying some food coloring and doing it yourself is dead easy. i took my fondant and put it on a flat, smooth surface and kneaded it until it got more pliable from the heat of my hands. if your fondant gets too warm and starts to stick, use confectioners sugar and dust the surface and your hands (just like using flour with dough).
once it is easy to knead, grab your desired color of food coloring and drop a few dots on to start, and begin to knead the color in. **note: if you use liquid coloring, it’ll take quite a but of dye to get the fondant colorful. if you use paste, it will take much less. you can do this as far in advance as you’d like, but make sure to keep the fondant in a ziplock bag, and the bag in another tupperware container (air = hard fondant!)
the raspberry preserve filling is super simple and went on the cakes next. all i did was take room-temperature raspberry jam, throw it in a bowl, and stir it vigorously until it was smooth and runnier than the jelly consistency. i used about half a cup for each cake layer (**remember, you’re only putting filling on two layers!) leave about a 1/8 inch clear around the sides of the layers so that the filling doesn’t mush out when you stack the cake.
let this filling set on the cakes. i popped them in the freezer for a few minutes and it did the trick :]
i laid out the cardboard cake base and carefully placed the first filled almond layer right in the center. i gently picked up the chocolate layer and stacked it on the almond layer, and did the same with the top almond layer.
the next step is a very important one– the crumb coat. crumb coating is just adding a very thin layer of frosting on the cake to catch any little crumbs that get torn off when you frost. you can do this step before you put a final layer of frosting on a cake to make sure you don’t get any cake bits in the smooth final coat, or before you cover a cake in fondant– the frosting acts like glue. i used a store bought icing (it doesn’t taste phenomenal, but it is quick and easy! feel free to make buttercream frosting it if floats your boat) and frosted the entire cake. use the frosting to fill in any spaces between the layers and to square out the corners before the fondant goes on. it almost works like spackle! ideally you’ll do this step with an offset spatula (AKA MY FAVORITE KITCHEN TOOL EVER), but i forgot mine at home. a regular knife will work fine! here’s what it looks like: