Monday, July 4, 2011

4th of July Cake

I came up with this 4th of July design after looking at a ton online. I wanted my cake to be a little bit different. The "fabric" is made from modeling chocolate. Just a note on that - I just learned about modeling chocolate and made it for the first time for this cake. It is wonderful! Soft, pliable, and much tastier than fondant! It dries firm, but not hard like gumpaste. And it seemed to be a little more forgiving than fondant because it's a little slower to dry. I will definitely be playing with this some more! I can see, though, that it would not be great for some things, so I will still be using gumpaste and fondant too.

The stars are made from red, white and blue fondant marbled together then painted with silver luster dust to make them shine. I didn't like how muddled the colors got and that was my fault for kneading a little too much after twisting the colors together. The silver muddled it a little bit more. Also, I originally intended for the stars to stick straight up out of the cake, but underestimated the weight of the fondant. Oops! Next time I will use a stronger wire for that! This gauge was the only one I could find of the white cloth-wrapped floral wire, though, and that is what I wanted. Even twisting two together didn't make it strong enough. I think it was 32 gauge. Way too thin!

The cake itself is my own Midnight Dark Chocolate Cake. A recipe I developed based on several chocolate cake recipes that I have used in the past. Seriously, this is a GOOD chocolate cake! I just can't stop thinking about it now. Wonderfully moist, extremely dark, good soft crumb (melts in your mouth!), and the best chocolate flavor. Soooo good! This time, I layered a bit of raspberry filling (made from fresh raspberries and a little tart with no added sugar, so a little really goes a long way) and vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. I did a thick crumb coat of the buttercream and covered the whole thing with white marshmallow fondant flavored with vanilla and a little almond extract.

The swiss meringue is my absolute favorite buttercream now. It isn't tooth-crackingly sweet like American buttercream, so it doesn't overpower the flavor of the cake and filling. It is perfectly soft and light. Since it's butter based, I can use a heated metal bench scraper to smooth the sides. I did that this time and it worked like a dream, though I could still use some practice. The key for me this time was letting it sit frosted in the frig overnight and then heat-smoothing it the next day. This made the buttercream more firm for me and gave me more time to perfect it as much as I could. Next time I may use a thinner coat, though, because my fondant got a little squishy as the buttercream warmed up. I was still moving my cake around and decorating it or I might not have noticed. I was super happy to not get any air bubbles, which has happened to me in the past covering SMBC with fondant.

I also really liked the flavor of the fondant with that little bit of almond extract added. I am finding that a little almond extract brings out a really good flavor in a lot of things. I have been adding it to a lot of cakes, cookies, and icings lately. It is strong stuff, though, so a little goes a really long way and you don't want to taste only almond, so if you try it go easy on it. I usually only add 1/8 of a teaspoon even in large batches.

One other funny thing about this cake, specifically about the stand. I got this stand yesterday just before I finished decorating the cake. I found it and thought it was perfect with the red and white ribbon. And I have been looking for a stand like this. I can change out the ribbon to coordinate with different cakes. Well, it is a bit big for this cake, I know, but I still like it. After I finished my cake and took the pictures, I noticed that the stand isn't level! I don't know how I didn't notice this before, but it's off by almost half an inch. Doh! I will still use it, but if I do a large cake, I will have to find a way to level it! :)

I hope you enjoyed what turned out to be a very long post! They will get shorter, I promise. I am just very excited to start sharing this and talking about cake!!


  1. Wow, I love all the details, very interesting even for a non-cake decorator (but homemade cake lover)!! I like almond flavoring, almond paste and stuff, I'll have to try it in some other recipes in place of vanilla now. Thanks for the warning on the amount because I'm usually one to double or triple the vanilla in breads & cookies and would likely do the same with almond without thinking about it. All of these flavors and the mixture sounds amazingly yummy!

  2. You should try it, Pati! I would use it with vanilla, though, and not replace all of the vanilla. I usually do the vanilla called for in the recipe, then add 1/8 teaspoon of almond extract with it. It is good!