Monday, January 30, 2012

Angry Birds Fondant Cake

Here is my journey into my very first attempt ever at a fondant cake. I had some huge successes, and some huge failures - and I wanted to share the process I took to make my cake. I'm not saying my way is thee way, but I do think I had a decent cake in the end, and a beginner might learn something from my journey :)


Here is a quick look at what I made:






And here's how I made it! I'm a complete and utter newbie with this stuff. I never even knew about crumb coating (what a flipping AWESOME trick that is!!). So I'm sure I did stuff wrong, but in the end - my results were what mattered :) That and the smile on my son's face :)


Research:
Alright. Step one for me was research. I started a Pinterest board and collected anything and everything I thought I would need. Inspiration for cake designs. Step-by-step tutorials on making the birds. Fondant information. Covering a cake with fondant. And so much more. You can check out my research HERE :)

Supplies:
Getting my things together, I decided to just go with Walmart's cheap fondant. I didn't learn about marshmallow fondant until too late, and I just stuck with my original plan. Besides, I live in a teeny-tiny town, and Walmart is my only option for shopping, and they were lacking in gel dye colors, and I didn't have time to order any. I also decided to just use a box cake - again to keep things simple. I don't feel like I need to prove anything by making everything from scratch, so box cakes are fine with me :)

ALSO!! There are lots of other gadgets that you will need. There are LOTS of things that you can buy - but you should also know that there are LOTS of things around the house that can do just as good!!

Fondant smoother: Was this necessary? For me - yes. I found it at Walmart for I think $5 and it really helped me cover the cake with fondant. Not so much the smoothing of the top - but it helped get the edges down quickly, and smoothly. And the stress that came with covering the cake was enough - I couldn't imagine doing it without one of these:


Fondant Roller: I looked at these, but I couldn't force myself to spend $6 on a roller that was only 6 inches long. So I just used my teflon coated rolling pin (which worked great for the non-stick, but also had a hard edge). You see - I didn't realize that the rounded edges on the fondant roller left no marks in the fondant while flattening it out. I was worried, but I will say that when it came time to cover the cake - I didn't see one single line on the fondant from the roller. So get one or not, but I don't think I need it (not now anyways).



Fondant sculpting tools: I'm really pretty sure I would have picked this up IF it was sold individually. I had a hard time justifying $20 on a set (similar to the one pictured below) when all I wanted was one. In the end, I ended up using my fingers, an exacto-knife and a small (REALLY small tipped) paint brush. Oh and a straw, lol (I'll explain later).



Water Brush: this one just made me giggle. Walmart wanted to charge $5 or $6 for a brush (that was too large in my opinion) that held water and was used to glue the fondant pieces together. Why would I spend that much when I could use my own brush!? And I did use mine - and I can't imagine doing this cake without it. Here's a photo of one I had (might be a little smaller). I do paint by number and you need a really small brush for fine detail. I used that as well as the butt end of it to push things down and shape them when I could. And a small bowl of water completes it all - and I never felt like I was missing anything important :)



Making & Storing Fondant Decorations
First things I researched were how far in advance can I start making stuff. I learned some important information. Since fondant isn't refrigerated, you can make them a few days in advance. You should NOT refrigerate them because the moisture will make them sticky and lose their firmness (not good if you've made something that needs to keep it's shape). The other trick is to NOT put them in a sealed container. That will also make them soften up, and designed decorations need to keep their shape. You need to keep them in a cool, aerated and darkened area. On the opposite side of that - if you want them to be bendable when applied to the cake, then I would say you should put them in some tupperware with a lid on to keep them soft and pliable.




Day 1 - Thursday
Our party was Sunday night, and I anticipated the cake taking a couple days. One day for characters and one day for cake. And then I'd have a 3rd day for mistakes (SOOO glad I had that extra day!!).

I started with the birds on day one. I found a couple tutorials that showed step by step how they made their red bird. So I used that to get a feel for it all (Tutorial One and Tutorial Two -- well bummer, looks like the original blog post is gone. However, the image is not -- here's the pin I have from that blog. I used it to help me decide how to design my little fellas. Tutorial Two Photo).

I pulled from both of those, and merged them into my own creations.


To cut out the white circles, I used the lid to my vanilla flavor. It didn't cut cleanly, so I had a little stringy stuff on the edges and I just used scissors to cut it off. And to get the fondant an orange color (I was working with black, brown, white, red, yellow, dark green & dark blue) I mixed the red and yellow and white until I was happy with the color (I used very little red)

And my trick for the eyes!! I saw it on one site - I used a straw. It was the perfect size for the eyes. I never took a pic of the straw - but I did find one here (you can see my paint brush in the background too - blurry but it's there):


After getting such great results with the red birds, I moved onto the black ones. To make the grey - I used black & white and then a little blue (the black was green based, and I needed to add some blue to counteract that). Some examples I found show a weird triangle cut out of the grey part of the eye - I didn't like that. I also changed mid way through to use yellow for the beak instead of orange. And I also decided to cut the beak to have a top & bottom (I just used the knife for that and carefully cut inwards).


Moving on - it was time for the blue & yellow birds. I was having so much fun I didn't take many photos, lol. For the blue guys - they have orange under their eyes. I just made a circle and cut them in half. I put the orange & white parts of the eyes together first before applying them to the birds. And for the yellow guy, I played around thinking to make it more of a hard triangle like the game - but I really love the cone shape that I saw, and I LOVE how he turned out (he's my favorite of the bunch, lol). The only thing I forgot was his butt feathers.


To make his hair (and the hair & butt feathers for the white bird). I made a triagle in black, cut it with scissors into three pieces and then rounded each pieces with my fingers. The pointy end at the bottom is what will go into your bird.


Lastly was the white bird. I was kinda nervous with him cuz the black fondant can stain really easy. And working on a white bird - I was afraid to make him dirty. First - his beak was different. To make that, I made a small circle and shaped it like a little egg. Then I flattened the back end to put it up against the bird. Then I cut the beak in half like normal. The white part of the eyes ended up being doublely thick compared to the other birds since the black showed through so much. Putting another layer of white up fixed that problem. And for the weird purple that usually is on his eye - I decided to use a more flesh tone and put it on his cheek (I hate how the white bird looks injured/sick with the purple part. Mine just looks mean I think, lol)


And that was day one. I worked from about noon till 10pm. I was kinda shocked how time consuming these little guys could be. Before I finished, I made up the green fondant for the pigs and called it good.


To make the light green you see, I used that little chunk of dark green that you can see is missing and then equal parts of white & yellow until I got the desired color I wanted. The next day - I ended up doubling this and it made four pigs and any extra pieces for their bodies that they needed.



Day 2 - Friday
I had so much fun the first day that I started bright and early on day 2. I got the green all made up and shaped out my pigs. I found a great image online and used it as a guide while making them. Here - I'll show you the images of everything and then go into some detail after:


I kept each pig in their spot. I made the snout & lips and ears for each one and put them by their corresponding pig. To do the black part (in the ears and in the nose) - I decided to not put the black on top. But instead, I took a toothpick and kinda punched down/flattened a little where I wanted the black. Then I put black in there and made it fit. This was for both the snout and ears.

The eyebrows where tricky. I didn't want to use a food coloring marker (nor did I have one) so I just rolled out some fondant REALLY tiny and stuck it on there. Worked out great. The mustache was done really similar to the hair on the white & yellow birds, only I did less rounding to it and kept it more square. And there's an image for the helmet below. I started with an oblong size grey piece and kept getting smaller and smaller till I found that a small round shape worked best).



I finished up with those guys before noon. So it was time for the cake. I toyed with the idea of shape cakes for a long time. Square, rectangle, round - I wasn't sure. After researching, I was convinced that covering a square cake would be just as easy as a round (evidence here - fyi, it's a video). So I baked two cakes. Well three (but two cake mixes). Two square cakes and then a small round cake. I stacked the two square cakes on each other and covered them in some chocolate butter cream frosting I made. The small round one was cut up and made into a smaller square that would be placed on top of the big square. And that ended my day (there are no photos - and you'll learn why next, lol).




Day 3 - Saturday
I started out the day pretty nervous. I wasn't sure how easy or hard it would be to cover a cake with fondant, and I had a feeling this could make or break the entire cake. I mean - without the cake, then what!? (Okay - I actually JUST came up with an idea of using cupcakes - good idea to keep in mind should the cake covering be too much).

Nervous about the cake, I decided to work on the rest of the sling shot. I had started it yesterday and let it firm up over night. Unfortunately, I had a hard time getting the black stuff shaped & attached, and I ended up snapping one of the arms off the sling shot :( I added some water and stuck the two broken pieces back together and prayed it would be able to be worked on later that night after it dried.

It was tricky, but I was able to get it done. I ended up working on it with it laying down. I put the black circled around the top and let that dry. I made the cup part of the rubber band and let it dry. And then I just made a long snake and stuck it on there and hoped it would work. I didn't know if it would until the day of the party that I picked it up and put it on the cake. It worked great - that broken arm never broke again :)

(The yellow arrow is pointing to where it broke)


I did one more little project before tackling the cake. I decided to go with a nest to hold a couple little eggs. I've seen a frying pan, and I thought the nest would be funner/easier to make.



Covering the cake
Then it was time to cover the cake (which is square if you don't remember). I'm pretty sure I did everything right. The only things I would do differently were add more vegetable oil before I started and use less powdered sugar (which I did with my 3rd try). But it just did not work! I flattened out the fondant and quickly put it on the cake. I flattened out the top and carefully pushed down on the top edge. Almost instantly, it started to crack -- and so did my confidence and composure.

Seeing the huge holes I was making, I took the fondant off the cake and prepared to try again. I don't think I did much different on my 2nd try. I believe I tried to use less powdered sugar, but you have to use it to keep it from sticking to the counter. Note -- I did clean off the butter cream frosting that stuck to it with a wet, warm cloth. I saw one person say to just mix it into the fondant, but there was a LOT and I didn't think the chocolate color would mesh well.

2nd try - more cracks almost instantly. And don't get me started with trying to get the fondant to successfully wrap around the corners of my square cake. By now I was in tears at my failure, frustrated and defeated :( After many tears, my hubby convinced me that there was plenty of time to make a new cake and try again. This time - it would be round.


This time I also fixed the recipe for the butter cream frosting that I used for a crumb coating. The first recipe, I'm pretty sure it wasn't the chocolate that made it taste really off. I honestly don't think it was the lemon juice either. After researching a bit more, I found that an overly buttery taste meant there wasn't enough powdered sugar and to also substitute half of the butter with shortening. I also did away with the chocolate & lemon just to be on the safe side. Sure enough - when I doubled the sugar, it tasted gooooooood! Just like my mom used to make it!!


Butter Cream Frosting (used for crumb coating)
  • 1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups confectioner's sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
  • 2 Tablespoons milk


And there's my covered cake!! Look at that thing, will ya? Isn't it gorgeous!! SOOO smooth and perfect! There was one minor defect in the top (a random hole that didn't even go all the way through to the cake) that was easily covered by the next layer!

Okay - things I did different: I read that you can get rid of the dryness by adding some vegetable oil and/or microwaving it for a few seconds. I did both. Then I wore some gloves (the kind a nurse would wear) and that kept it from sticking to my hands (aka - less powdered sugar required). And I also use the least amount of powdered sugar that I could to keep it from sticking to the counter. Quick like lightning, I picked it up and plopped it down (carefully, lol) and began on the edges immediately. It went on like I prayed it would - like I always thought it would!!! I mean - not ONE crack appear on the edge!! It was on in a few seconds - just like I saw in all the videos I searched for!!!


After that, things went smoothly. I grabbed the little rectangle cake I made for my first design, cut the corners to round it out and decided to cover it in grey and make it rock. It had no real hard parts left to it - the cake was really REALLY soft, so it came off looking kind of lumpy. BUT - I thought that added to the rock I was going for - and I didn't bother trying to smooth it out.



I saw a cake with grass used to cover a lower edge of a cake and I liked that idea. So I cut up some grass to go around the rock. Please know that the grass is NOT one long piece. It was probably 5 or 6 different pieces. It was easier to control them when putting them on the cake.



By now it was pretty late. But I wasn't ready to stop yet. I didn't like the brown strip I did around the bottom of the green cake, so I came up with something else. I didn't have enough brown left over to cover the whole board the cake was on, but I was able to do it around the cake. The board I got (which sucked by the way - they wouldn't lay flat! $4 at Walmart - what did I expect, lol) had more than one. So I took an extra one and cut it in half. Then I measured 5 points around half the cake and marked it on the extra board. Then I just guesstimated the circle arc of the cake and cut it out. I now had a pattern for where I wanted the brown to go around the cake. I put a little bit of the butter cream frosting on the board and laid the brown down. I also decided to do rocks around the base of the cake. At first I was going to make them round and make sure they were smooth - then I remember that rocks were far from perfect, lol.



I initially made the rocks because I was going to do Liam's name in rocks. But when I did them around the base, I changed my mind. I decided to do wood blocks since his name was short (and didn't have bendy letters, lol). The lines were done with the knife and the M and the A have small pieces of toothpicks helping it stay together (mainly because I didn't want to wait and let the water glue it). I also didn't go the extra step to make the wood straight and have sharp edges (it was around 3am in the morning by now, lol), so that might be something you want to do if you decide to do something similar.





Day 4 - Sunday
The day of the party!! Most everything was done. I decided to add some flowers to spruce up the cake some more. I used the straw to make a yellow center circle. Then I placed that circle and used the straw to make the petals. You can see in the photo - I cut a small piece of the straw off, and then I also cut a small strip out of the piece so that it wasn't a full circle. Also - when pulling out the flower, I got little stringys that kinda stuck on. My brush and some water cleaned that up easily (it cleans up any kind of stringys that happened, or crumby edges that happened from cutting - like on the grass).




Finishing Up
After that I was done. All that was left was "gluing" on all the characters and decor. I also changed where I put the sling shot (it was covering up some of my pigs) and I put it on the side. I used a mound of green with a hole in it to prop it up.


And the party was a huge success!! Even the cheapo fondant that I thought would taste like feet was loved by the kids. I later tried some myself - I actually really liked it with the cake. Now a full bite of it (like from a bird) was a little too rich for me. But with the cake was great :)



That's it!! That is my 4 day journey into making my very first fondant cake!! Despite the tears, lol - it was a great experience -- one I hope to repeat soon (minus the tears, lol). I enjoyed it SO much!! If you've read the whole thing - I think you deserve an award, lol. I hope I've helped in some small way. Any Questions - please leave them in the comments and I will try to help!!!

And I now return you to your regularly scheduled P365 blog :P
~Jen

21 comments :

  1. That is AMAZING. I've never been able to work with fondant but I can appreciate it. Your birds look so real and the cake is beautiful. And I may be the only person to never have played Angry Birds, lol.

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    1. Thank you for such a well written article. It’s full of insightful information and entertaining descriptions. Your point of view is the best among many. cheap cakes

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  2. Wow!!!! Tons of work. My husband loves Angry Birds...I might buy the kit I saw and add a few pigs?? See how energetic I feel! Keep up the persistence and inspiration:-)

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  3. What an amazing job!!! I'm "attempting" the same thing right now. My son's 9th birthday is on the 21st of this month and I'm doing the research on all the "fun" (NOT!) stuff. I'm confused cause alot of people say not to put fondant in the fridge or freezer and some say it s a MUST. I have no idea what I'm doing but I really want to do this cake for him...too bad I don't have $200 laying around for someone else to do it for me. But I do want that satisfaction of knowing I make him smile from ear to ear. I know you know what I mean. :) Anyways..my questions is..where did you find your facts? And from what I read it took you 4 days to complete your masterpiece, if you had to do it all over again..would you give yourself more time? ALso, any tips for a "first time fondant user"?

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    1. I'm SO sorry that I'm just now seeing this! You're the first person to leave a question and I didn't think to check back for questions, lol.

      I found my facts by lots and lots and LOTS of googling, lol. I read multiple pages, watched lots of videos, and took notes and what not to keep it all organized.

      Yes - I've heard the different sides of putting fondant creations in the fridge. The way I understand it - putting it in the fridge keeps it moist. Which is good for items you might want to shape at a later date - the best example being flowers. You can move the petals after placing it on the cake. But if you want it to stay solid and stiff, then you put it out of the way in a dark place. You want it exposed to the air, cuz even putting it into a tupperware container (with the lid on) can keep it soft & pliable. I wanted my creations to be firm, so I put them in a storage closet. It had air flow and was dark - and it worked perfect. And they don't get hard. Just not sticky or wet. They just firm up (you can experiment by putting a piece of fondant out and see what it does. It's still edible, just not soft like it is when you first pull it out).

      As for the length of time...I think 4 days was plenty of time. If I could have covered the cake on the first try, I would have saved a day, you know? Because needing to go out and buy new cake mix, bake a new cake and try again (plus my nerves were frayed, so I took breaks to cool my nerves). But that wasted a whole day almost, and had me working into the early morning. Not that I minded the early morning stuff - I loved the rocks I made, and I might not have thought of that if I wasn't in a quiet, peaceful house :)

      First time fondant user advice -- anticipate needing LOTS of powdered sugar so that it doesn't stick to the counter. If you feel like the fondant is getting too dry, add a touch of vegetable oil and/or microwave it for a few seconds. Works wonders to get it soft again. And also - try wearing gloves to help the fondant not stick to your hands. I had some from the hospital (the blue nurse gloves) and it helped to use less powdered sugar, which kept it from drying out as quick (I really only found these steps necessary when it came to flattening out large amounts for covering the cake).

      Okay, I think that's it! Again - sorry I didn't respond sooner. My summer has gotten hectic and I haven't been able to do my blog like I had hoped I'd be able to! Hope I got this info to you in time! And good luck - I would LOVE to see your cake when & if you do it!! :)

      XOXO! ~Jen :)

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    2. HI!!Dont worry I totally understand. Its taken me this long to finally get back on Google, Blogger (not sure where or what I'm at) Sorry, I'm not computer savvy. From what I remember the cake I orginally made broke, *sigh* so I had to do a last minute run to the store, and by last minute I mean an hour before the party started. But I did do the birds, piggies, sling, logs, pebbles and even threw in a TNT bomb in there. It was ok, but not what I wanted it to be. But he loved it! Which mattered the most and not to mention it made me feel better. But I have gotten better. I did an Avengers cake this past weekend, dont wanna toot my own horn (HONK HONK!). :)
      I'll try to post both pictures so you can see. Thanks for replying by the way, I really appreciate that!

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    3. Oh wonderful! Well, not the cake breaking part, but I hear ya on last minute cake making, lol. And it's true - their joy is reward enough!! I would love to see your cakes! I've done a couple more and I gotta say - I love making fondant cakes!! I bet the Avengers one was fun! :) Thanks for letting me know how it went!

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  4. Just WOW Jen! I'm impressed! Gorgeous cake and this was your first time?? Extraordinary! I read the entire article and you have some great tips there. One day I'm going to try a decorated cake myself and then I'll come back here! :)
    XOXO
    Kim (Freckles)

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  5. You did a really great job for this being your first fondant cake! I use Marshmallow fondant because it doesn't crack like the store bought kind can and you can flavor it with vanilla, almond or any extract you like-so yummy! If you keep working with fondant and dive in to other project like this one I HIGHLY recommend the colorful tool set that you pictured that Wilton sells. It has been an essential item in my cake business and I use it every time I make any cake or cupcake topper. It's so nice to have the right tool for the job and to have them all in one place.
    I agree with you totally that a round cake is TONS easier to place fondant on than a square one :)
    Keep up the great work!!!

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  6. Trick I read for lessening your powdered sugar use is cornstarch!

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  7. How much fondant. Did you use? My son's party is in two weeks and I'm terrified. I won't have enough.

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    1. Well I used the stuff from Walmart - so it was prepackaged (if you make your own - like a marshmallow fondant - than you can just make a crap load of white and dye what you need when you need it). But lets see ... I think the only color I needed to get more of was green because I ended up covering the cake with it (which wasn't my original plan. I was kinda just doing things as I went). The green unfortunately was in a pack of four colors, so I had some extra colors that I didn't need/use. I could have used more brown I believe, but it was in a pack of four too - and I just made due with what I had.

      You can always do things a couple days ahead. The characters can be made in advance, and covering a cake in fondant is like sticking a cake in a Tupperware (ie: it seals it) - so the cake will stay fresh. And like my back up plan states - if the cake just doesn't work, then make some cupcakes, spread some frosting on and stick a bird/pig on each one. Kids will love it regardless!! Good luck!

      Here - photos are my thing, lol These are pics of the exact kind I used. I think I got each of these:
      1 box of white - http://d3w5aos35qel1w.cloudfront.net/store/images/site_images/710-2076_l.jpg
      2 boxes of primary colors - http://dfmlo8oja8g1e.cloudfront.net/532737/product/standard/3383.jpg
      1 box of browns - http://www.bakedeco.com/bimages/w448%20med.jpg

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  8. Hi your cake looks amazing! I am trying to use MMF and it's very shiny? How do I make it look more dry and natural?
    Also, I am trying to make a hoot/ owl topper for my cake. Can I make it out of a MMF? and do I let the wings and tail dry before I attach it to the body?
    Thanks,

    Mel

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    1. I'm so soooo sorry that I'm just now getting to this!! My email never alerted me to your comment, so I'm just now seeing it!!

      I'm assuming that MMF means marshmallow fondant. I'm not a 100% sure what I would do. I used the walmart fondant, so I've never dealt with any MMF before. I do know the walmart stuff seemed to have a flat, matted look (I'm assuming it's from using the powdered sugar) and it became shiny when any water was used on it for the gluing process.

      I have seen on those cake shows that they actually seem to use a steam machine to make the whole thing have the glossy look, so maybe you should just make sure that everything is shiny so that it all looks consistent. I wish I had the answer, but until I try my hand at using MMF, I can't do much better than suggest googling around a bit and see if others have your question and see what answers they get.

      I made some sheep recently, and I let each section firm up a little (if not a lot) before adding the next -- so (assuming - probably wrongly assuming - you haven't made the cake yet) I would suggest letting things firm up before adding the next piece. When I make stuff, I tend to make a base and build on top of. I suppose you could make the pieces separate and add them together - I think both ways will work. And if you give yourself enough time, then you can always do it again if you break/ruin something.

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  9. WOW! Amazing job! Such a great tutorial. This will definitely help me a lot since its my first time making an angry birds fondant cake for my sons birthday this Saturday.

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    1. Good luck!! I hope it turns out great! Feel free to share how things turn out - I'm always excited to see what others do! :)

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  10. I cannot thank you enough for writing everything in detail!!! My 7YO is celebrating his birthday on Sunday and your tutorial is the PERFECT one for me!!! I have not made many cakes, just this Nemo one 2 years back. (http://www.13woodhouseroad.com/2012/02/my-nemo-adventure.html) With your tutorial 'pinned' I'm actually looking forward to making the cake!!! Will write back to you when I do it!!! :)
    Cheers from India!!!

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    1. Um not sure why you're looking for help because your first cake was AMAZING! You did an incredible job on it!! I can't wait to see what you do on your next cake. Yes please, share a link of how it turned out! Seeing what you've done, I'm pretty sure in will be incredible :)

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  11. Awesome thanks for the tutorial

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  12. Thanks a ton for this tutorial. I want to try fondant cake. But have some doubt. Like beneath d fondant how much moisture should b there? In d layers of cake if i m using ganache (truffle) then wil it make Ny difference. I dont want to use buttercream as it mostly contains margarine. Basically m interested in knowing d moisture content of d cake. Pls reply Asap

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    1. I'm pretty sure any reply I give now won't be helpful. I was in the middle of moving when you wrote this and have been offline for the last few months. But just in case someone else ever reads and has similar questions:

      I don't think the frosting I used for the crumb coating was important for the moisture aspect of the cake so much as just giving the cake some stability. It helps smooth out the cake so it's not as lumpy when you add the fondant (especially if your fondant is thinner). I have never used ganache on my cakes, so I wouldn't have any basis for comparison.

      But I would imagine the moisture you have in the cake when you bake it will be enough to sustain the freshness of the cake regardless of what you coat your cake in before adding the fondant.

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