baking, family, food celebrations

New traditions and new fondant skills

So today was my nephew’s 9th birthday party and a big event was planned in celebration. Of course, given the world’s current circumstances with COVID 19, there was no other choice but to postpone the celebration which resulted in a very sad 9 year old boy. When originally planning the party, his mother (my sister) asked if any of her family members felt confident enough to decorate a cake. Of course I immediately stuck up my hand and said “me!” She then says “he wants the bus from Fortnite.” Should be simple enough, I thought. I guess I’d better find out what a fortnite is….

So, it turns out that the characters from Fortnite are a little tougher than one would imagine. Thanks be to Pinterest, particularly one post from Alyssa Cuellar that gave me some insight into what Fortnite cakes and cupcakes were all about. (Thank you for saving it Alyssa, and I’m not sure how to find out where the original post came from but it was creative!) So based on that post, I recognized that I’d need cupcakes, fondant, food colouring, a piping bag, a number 223 Wilton tip (for grass), and a bit of time, and maybe I could make some cupcakes and leave them on my nephew’s door step and somehow salvage a little bit of a young boy’s birthday.

Here is how they turned out –

The cake recipe was simply that chocolate cake recipe that most of us know about. It uses boiling water and is really moist. Here’s a link to the recipe as it appears at the very bottom of this link from the Add a Pinch website – https://addapinch.com/the-best-chocolate-cake-recipe-ever/

If I had been able to get to a grocery store I definitely would have opted for camouflage muffin liners, but these shiny red ones are as good as it gets today unfortunately. My other choice were liners with pink hearts and they really did not go with the overall theme. Use 1/3 cup of batter per muffin liner (in a large muffin pan) and bake as per the recipe until the centres are done. Cool thoroughly before icing.

The base icing used for these cupcakes is a simple buttercream frosting made with high ratio shortening with a tbsp of meringue powder added to keep the piped icing from wilting. As I am a Wilton cake decorating alumnus, I use the Wilton icing recipe. You will not need a full batch for 12 cupcakes so I would cut the recipe in half. Here is the recipe – https://www.wilton.com/whipped-buttercream/WLRECIP-8763.html

Note that I said high ratio shortening (available at Bulk Barns in Canada) so that the icing will hold its shape when piped. This shortening plus the meringue powder are the magic ingredients that allow this to happen. Colour the icing with Wilton’s moss green colouring. Put a #233 Wilton (small grass) piping tip on your piping bag. That tip looks like this – https://www.amazon.com/Wilton-No-233-Decorating-Tip-Multi-Opening/dp/B003W0I6ZQ

I found that piping the grass takes a bit of a technique to get it looking like…grass. The bag needs to be held at right angles to the cooled cupcake, put pressure on the bag when the tip is close to the cupcake and then release your hand pressure as you lift the bag away from the cupcake for best results. You’ll find you will get into a groove of sorts. Good thing about icing is that you can scrape it away and try again. Just go with it, don’t sweat it if it’s not perfect and soon all your cupcakes will be covered with grassy frosting.

The figurines or cupcake toppers are made from fondant. I use Wilton ready use fondant. In Canada, you can find it in the bakery section of most major grocery stores. You don’t need a lot. When you are ready to create, open the bag of fondant, pinch off a small piece about the size of a quarter and start to work it in your clean hands until it is pliable. Colour with food colouring by indenting a hole in the middle of the fondant and placing a bit of food colouring gel in the hole. Work the fondant around in your fingers until the colour is mixed well and is uniform. Use disposable gloves if you desire. Again, I’m not receiving any compensation from Wilton but I find they have lots of colours and the colour mixes nicely through the fondant. Once the fondant is coloured, treat it like plasticine or PlayDoh and have fun with your creations! The fondant pieces can be done before or after the cupcakes are baked and frosted. I felt I needed lots of time for this project (remember a day ago I didn’t know what Fortnite was) so I did the cupcake toppers the day before I baked and frosted the cupcakes. Fondant will dry somewhat if left in the air, but only enough to become less fragile. Any unused fondant should be placed in a zip locked bag for future use.

Have fun with this! I left the finished cupcakes in a cupcake carrier on my nephew’s front door, went back to the car, called his dad on my cell to tell him the cupcakes were there, and stayed back the necessary 1+metre and enjoyed my nephew’s reaction. Later that day, the whole family (younger and older cousins, aunts, uncles) used a group video chat function to sing happy birthday to him and by the look on his face, it appeared that his birthday wasn’t so bad after all. Our family has now decided that, given how far we all live from each other, this will not be our last group video chat. A new tradition is borne – today it is a necessity but tomorrow or next time it could be just to keep us closer together! Our glasses are half full! Enjoy your day everyone!

~Victoria Sweet

7 thoughts on “New traditions and new fondant skills”

  1. So glad you were able to use your Wilton expertise. Your explanations are excellent. We had fun, didn’t we. Unfortunately the photo didn’t show up on my tablet.

    Like

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