Monday, January 11, 2010

Elegant Red Christmas Cake

This year, I spent my first Christmas away from home and with my long-haired, long-term boyfriend and his family. I decided to impress my potential in-laws with Christmas Cake, because the best way to a potential in-law's heart is through their stomach! The following is a photo-essay (taken by the long-haired, long-term boyfriend) which documents the multiple day labor-of-love it is to make a fancy fondant cake.

I began by making frosting, baking the cake, and then leveling the top. I set up shop at the kitchen table and smile silly-like at my at my documentarian.

I fill the layers with yummy-licous frosting (cream cheese frosting in this case). I've discovered the flavor of the frosting is key to a great tasting cake. Other fun flavors I've tried include peanut butter, and mint. Any future suggestions?

I crushed up some peppermint candy canes and put them between the layers of red velvet and white cake to add a tasty bit of holiday cheer. After wards I covered the two tiers of cake entirely in frosting.

Next comes the fondant (not fondue, as the potential parent-in-law kept calling it). Fondant is a smooth flawless icing used for wedding and specialty cakes. It's made of sugar and water and has a gum-like texture. It's play-dough for bakers! I purchase my fondant pre-made, and it comes in white, so my first task was to color it. Red and black are the hardest colors to create as they require a lot of food coloring and even more kneading and mixing. Guess what color this cake is?

Look at that sexy neon salmon orange - it has Christmas written all over it? looks like a little more gel-color and a healthy wrist workout is in order.

After the desired color is achieved, (which took practically an entire jar of gel-color) I rolled out the fondant until it was about 1/4 to 1/8 of an inch thick.

Using the rolling pin, I rolled the fondant out over the cake, and smoothed it out with my hands and a fondant smoother to make my cake flawless. It's like botox for cake!

Once the cake is covered and the wrinkles are wiped away, I cut away the excess fondant. Then lather, rinse, repeat -- I mean -- roll, smooth, and repeat for tier number two.

I use dowels to support the second tier.

Slowly, with agile fingers and the grace of a bull, I lower the second tier, down through a central dowel. (Side note: Bull's are actually very graceful, Mythbusters did an experiment to see what a Bull would actually do in a China shop and here-be-told not a dish was displaced!)

Prior to making the cake I cut out small white flowers from gum paste and let them dry. Next I painted them with pearl dust (you know, to make the cake fancy) and I glue in the center sprinkles using almond extract.

The finished flowers wait to dry as the sun sets. Sparkly!

Later I attach the tiny flowers all over the cake - again using almond extract as a glue. Any extract will work, the almond is simply what I had on hand.

You have to hold each flower down for a moment or two in order to seal the bond. Yes, decorating does include a lot of small work, but I find it very zen-like to enjoy each small step one by one by one by one by one.

And Voila - a beautiful fantastic Christmas cake! Easy as....cake! (Well, three days easy).


How Merry!

Of course after you've admired the cake, you must eat it! Who's got a gigantic knife?!

Time for some slicing and dicing!

Who wants the first piece?

Gobble. Gobble. Munch. Munch. Slurp. Burp.

Even the nieces approve! Merry Christmas Everyone!

All the photos for this post were taken and provided by Russell Gearhart Photography.

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