Monday, October 15, 2012

How to Make a Fondant Ruffle Cake

My neighbor showed me a picture of a ruffle wedding cake by Maggie Austen and asked if I could make it.  I said that I had absolutely no idea how, and suggested someone else. But, she seemed to believe I could do it. I finally told her I would take it on as a challenge and figure it out as best as I could. I reminded her though that I am NOT a professional wedding cake maker!!

I certainly DO NOT consider myself at all in the same category as Maggie Austen. She is an amazing full time cake artist, and I am a full time mom with 4 kids (ages 7 and under). Maggie Austen designs and decorates cakes as a career, and I can only do it when I burn the midnight oil. I am not in her league, and  I know that. But, thankfully I figured out how to make ruffles on a wedding cake, and the bride was happy.

Here is one way to make fondant ruffles on a cake. I know there are several ways, and I spent a few sleepless nights trying to figure out how it would work best for me. I came up with this formula. If anyone knows a better way, or a true Maggie Austen secret, then I'd love to hear it!

Supplies Needed:
Cakes, see below
cake boards
Filling (optional)
Butter Cream Frosting, see recipe below (or buy the Wilton brand... NOT Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines-
        they taste great, but are NOT strong enough to keep fondant on the cake)  
Fondant (buy at any craft store or even Walmart)
Gum Paste (buy at craft stores or Walmart)
White Crisco
Pasta Maker (Optional, but strongly encouraged... borrow if you don't have one!!)
food paint brush
corn syrup

1.Bake the cake or cakes

 A few handy tips for baking cakes to decorate:
-Use Wilton cake release generously on the cake pan. If you don't have it, then cover the pan generously with Crisco and flour.
-To bake the cake as flat as possible, put a cake nail in the middle of the pan. Make sure to cover it in the non-stick solution. Cake nails are found with cake supplies at any store.
-Bake the cake on a lower temperature than the recipe calls for, and bake it longer.
-For decorating purposes, bake the cake as long as possible. Gooey doesn't work here. 
-Freeze the cake until a few minutes before you're ready to decorate.

2. Level the cake or cakes. I like to do this with a bread knife. There are also actual cake levelers that Wilton sells. If you are going to fill the cake, then cut the cake in half lengthwise. Or, make sure you've baked 2-3 of the same size cakes to stack on top of each other.

3. Fill it and frost it.  But FIRST, if you are making a wedding cake, or a cake that you're putting smaller cakes on top of, make sure to put the cake on a cake board. A cake board is cardboard circle that fits the size of the cake. This is very important!! Otherwise, there will be no way to stack the cakes. Cake boards can be found at any place cake making supplies are sold.

Butter Cream Frosting
1 Cup White Crisco
1 Cup butter (the real stuff)
2 teaspoons clear flavor or extract (vanilla, almond, butter... Wilton brand works well)
4 Tablespoons water
2 Pounds (or 1 bag) powdered sugar
A pinch of salt (optional)

Mix the Crisco, butter, water, and flavoring first. Then add in the sugar a bit at a time. Never whip on fast speed. Add the salt if desired.
Frosting or other filling acts as glue to stack the layers together, and you can use whatever you want to fill it. Make sure to use butter cream around the edges. Some call this the dirty coat, others call it a crumb coat.

This coat does not have to be perfect. Take a spatula or even a piece of poster board to smooth the edges. The butter cream is the glue that will hold the fondant to the cake.

4.  Roll out the fondant. I usually use a mat, but it was too small for this cake.Put some white Crisco on the surface you are going to roll it on.  Roll it larger than the size of the cake. If not, it will crinkle as you put it on the cake. Roll fondant approximately 1/4th  to 1/8th of an inch thick.
These are my husband's hands... don't worry, mine aren't that big!

5. Put the fondant on the cake. Pick the fondant up with the rolling pin and just put it right on top of the cake. You may want to watch a few you tube videos before doing this part :) here's a good one.  Pull and tuck and shape with your hands until the fondant is smoothly around the cake. Use a fondant smoother and smooth around the cake. Then cut the excess with a pizza cutter or knife.

Work as fast as you can so that the fondant doesn't get too dry before putting on the ruffles.

 Ruffle Formula:
1 part fondant to 1 part gum paste. Mix together. Then add a touch of white Crisco. Knead into the fondant and gum paste.(Do not attempt to use just fondant or gum paste! Trust me on this one. The weight and stickablilty won't work unless you combine these two things).

Get a small amount of mixture and put it through a pasta maker. If you do not have a pasta maker, you can roll it. It will just take a whole lot longer.

Take the strips, and use a pizza cutter to cut the strip to the size you want. Using a food paint brush, put corn syrup on the cake in the place you want to attach the ruffle. Ruffle the strip with your fingers as you attach it to the cake. Use a toothpick to accentuate ruffles.

                                                    Keep on going, and going, and going.
               Ah. You're finished! Just kidding if you're making a wedding cake.
Still have 1 more cake to go.
If the cake is just one level, then add some flowers or accessories and be done!!

 If it's a wedding cake then you have a few more steps....
 And it all depends on the size of your cake :).

The general rule is if you are stacking cakes then put several dowels in the middle of the cake to hold up the other cakes. Then stick one big dowel down the middle.
However for this one, I just set the smaller cake on top of the big cake because I could tell that the big cake was sturdy enough to hold the small cake. Usually, though, I put dowels in the bottom cakes to hold the top cakes up.

Hopefully the recipient will smile because you've put in a ton of work!!

These make beautiful birthday cakes (just do a smaller version), or wedding cakes. Since it's Halloween time, a ruffle cake could even be made with chocolate fondant and dried flowers. 


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  1. Wow Nancy that is impressive! Way to go figuring that all out on your own! If I am ever in the position of making a fondant cake again (ie the devil has my soul or my child is taken hostage and that's the demand) then I will come back and follow these directions! Nice job girl!

  2. Nancy, What a beautiful cake. I love the fresh flowers.

    1. Thank you! It was one of the biggest stresses of my life :)!!

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