Introduction: Funky Polka-dot Birthday Cake
So what do you get your best friend who has everything for her 22nd birthday? You make an awesome cake that reflects her personality! This was my first attempt at any sort of cake decorating beyond frosting and piping bags. I wanted to create a cake that was beautiful but untraditional. No swags or sugar roses here!
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Step 1: Materials and Ingredients
Okay, so this is the trade-off: If I'm just baking a cake without any fancy decorations, then by all means, I will start from scratch, probably a Nigella recipe. But, if I'm spending all this time on the outside, I cheat and use a cake mix. They taste just fine and I don't feel that I have to turn my "Domestic Goddess" license :-)
-two boxes of your favorite cake mix (I like the dark chocolate fudge one, tastes almost like bittersweet chocolate.)
-a 6" round cake tin and a 8" cake tin
-a can of plain white frosting (this is for the crumb layer)
-filling (I used whipped cream and cherries; only after did I realize this was a stupid idea because the cream absorbs into the cake after a day- so try something that can last- like more frosting, or jelly.)
-mini marshmallow fondant (Try this recipe- this tastes ridiculously good and is much cheaper than using that boxed fondant. However, it does take a bit of work, but you will feel amazingly productive afterwards. Mini marshmallow fondant recipe
-food coloring (gel tints- you can find these by the cake decorating section, I got my 4-pack at Wal-Mart, or you could try speciality stores as well. ***If you use the liquid drop kind, you will have to use a lot to achieve this dark color and you could mess up the texture of the fondant.)
-vodka (for the shiny tie-dye effect on the fondant)
-a pastry brush
-a wooden dowel (for support)
-an offset spatula
-pizza cutter or knife
-Circle cookie cutters or small cup (I used the metal sauce cup that the toothpicks are sitting in)
Step 2: Cake Prep
Bake the cake according to package directions. You can separate the layers by baking them separately, one at a time or you can bake a big layer and split it in two. Cool on racks and trim cakes into even layers. Fill between the layers and stack but leave the two tiers separate for now.
Frost with a very thin layer of frosting. This is call the crumb layer and will help the fondant adhere to the cake. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or you can freeze the cakes at this point if you choose.
Step 3: Fondant Time
Make the marshmallow fondant and tint with colors.(If you want to keep some white for the polka dots, save a small ball) Use the toothpicks to get a bit of the gel tint out and put it in the fondant. Knead the fondant with the heel of your hand until the desired color is well-blended.
*** note: this is very messy- make sure the counter top can be cleaned or use a washable cutting board (marble is best for this). Also, your hands will get a wicked shade of whatever you're trying to achieve, so if you don't want purple hands for a day, wear food-safe gloves. If you're not ready to roll and cover the cakes now, form in a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill.
Separate the fondant in two. Sprinkle powered sugar on the board and roll one piece until it is about 1/4" thick and even. Support the fondant with two hands and drape over one tier (If you've never worked with fondant before, try the big one first, remember, it will be covered with the top.) Work slowly and press lightly to stick the fondant on the top. Then, going around the cake, lift up fondant and smooth down until all of the cake is covered, preferably seamlessly (although mine wasn't!). Cut off the excess with a pizza cutter or a knife. Save the scraps and reform into a ball. Repeat for the next tier.
By now, you should have two completely covered cakes, a big one and a little one.
Step 4: Decorate
Break out the vodka! Use about a shot and tint with the food coloring for desired color. Brush the mixture on in thin coats. It will look swirly as the alcohol dries; play around with the colors and use small, successive coats to get the right look.
Next, roll out the fondant to about an 1/8 to 1/4 and cut circles out. Stick the circles on the wet fondant or use a tiny bit of frosting.
Put some frosting in a plastic bag with a tip if desired. Pipe frosting around the base of both tiers to cover the edges.
Cut wooden dowels to just under the shape of the bottom tier. Insert dowels in a circle in the center of the cake, evenly spaced. This will support the cake so the top doesn't sink. Place top tier and bottom tier and stand back to marvel at your creation!
*The pictures show that I painted the cake and then inserted the dowels and decorated- I don't think it matters at this point.
Personalize if you want. I put frosting in a small plastic bag and piped on the top. I also used some leftover fondant to roll out the "22."
Pretty, unique, and yummy! My friend loved it so much it took her five minutes to cut into it!
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