Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Topper Tips and Tricks - How to Model Fondant Figures

There is something super special about bringing cakes to life with hand modeled toppers!  This is a quick post on some of the things I have learned along the way with making such modeled toppers.

Tip #1 - Use Pictures

*  Print or use your phone to scan multiple pictures of the character you are working on.  
*  You will want to look at the character from many different angles so a lot of time I use a phone.
*  Sometimes, when I am having a particularly difficult time with a certain area I search for that image specifically, for instance I will Google "Stitch sitting" or "Tigger nose".

Tip #2 - The Fondant

* Ok so I am partial to our fondant:).  It is called Cake Couture fondant and I find it to be the perfect fondant for modeling because it gives you A LOT of working time.  The closest fondants to it are marshmallow fondant or LMF (Liz Merek's Fondant) - see various recipes online.  We do sell our fondant in our Etsy shop.  To shop click here.
*  You will want a fondant that doesn't dry super quickly.

Tip #3 - The Gum

*  In order to enable your fondant to firm you will need a gum harder.  My gum of preference is Gum Tragacanth.  This is not the same as Gum-Tex by Wilton or Tylose powder.  A lot of modelers use Tylose Powder, however, I have found the fondant to dry a little more 'rough' and inhibit elasticity.  
*  It is tough to find Gum Tragacanth in small quantities, however, we have recently started selling this in 2 ounce quantities on our website.  Click Here

Tip #4 - The Process

1.  Mix your fondant with a good dose of gum.  I would say about 1/2 teaspoon per 3-4 ounces.   This, however, does depend on the rate of firmness you prefer.  The more gum you use the faster the fondant will take to reach hardness.  I like for the pieces to be somewhat firm in about 3 hours.  However, at this point you can still continue to 'shape' it slightly to get just the right look (I would say this stage is where you can really fix the areas that look quite right, however, do so slowly and carefully).  Give it a night or two and it will be much more firm enabling assembly such as positioning the head on the body. 

2.  Make your structural and largest pieces first in order to allow sufficient drying time.  This means the topper body and head, or in the case of a standing topper, its legs.  These parts must be very firm (drying time 1-2 days) in order to allow for good assembly.  

3.  When making heads, body, or other parts ensure to roll your fondant pieces in a ball very firmly prior to shaping.  This will ensure you get all those creases out.  I also like to use a scale to make sure weights are identical, such as equally sized arms and legs.

4.  If you position all of your parts on the body right away sometimes this can lead to the topper getting weighed down since everything isn't firm and dry just yet.  To avoid this make sure all of your pieces are dry and firm (especially the body and head) prior to assembly.  I also like to dry these pieces on flower cups to maintain roundness or on foam blocks to encourage airflow.  As drying continues from one day to another rotating the pieces to allow airflow to all sides is also recommended.

5.  If I am making a standing topper (such as the twighlight sparkle shown here) I do use skewers for the legs upon shaping the legs.  This also allows for the figure to stand.  However, when I make smaller sitting toppers I don't always use skewers that drive all the way through the topper into the cake.  For these toppers I usually just use a skewer that goes from the body into the head.  Also, I use toothpicks for the ears, however, I have recently discovered that using thin straws would decrease weight and have great structure... but I have yet to try it:-D.

Tip #5 - The Colors

* I would say coloring can be one of the most difficult part of this process!  Can you believe it?!

* Pink will fade and purple will turn blue!  You can avoid this by adding a little red to the pink, dusting the pieces with luster dust, AND storing the pieces in a dark area (like a cabinet/pantry).  However, the problem with the luster dust is that sometimes it can go on unevenly AND it still doesn't completely protect the color.  And the problem with storing the pieces in a dark place is that there isn't a lot of airflow so drying time and work-ability can be compromised:-/.  

*  If anyone else knows what to do with purple let me know!  It can be so tricky:-/.  You can see the Twilight Sparkle below very nice and purple on the left.  I diligently kept her in a dark place.  However, once I applied the wings the cabinets' restricted airflow wouldn't let them dry completely.  So I decided she had to be left out... which made her turn blue:(.  I painted her to try to get her purple color back but it's never quite the same once the purple changes color.  

Hopefully you find this tutorial helpful when making your next cake topper!
Happy caking!

Cake Couture Designer

Friday, August 28, 2015

How to Make Zebra Stripes

Zebra striped cake!!!  This is a super fun and super easy technique!  And here is our very quick tutorial on how to copy this look!


* Fondant covered cake
* Black fondant for the stripes
* Small sharp knife
* Shortening with a small brush

Step 1.  Roll out your black fondant super thin.  We like to use our Kitchenaid Pasta attachment on our mixer on setting 2.  However, the attachment is NOT necessary.  Just get the black super thin.

Step 2.  Let the fondant sit.  Ok so that might not work for all fondants, however, we LOVE to use our Cake Couture fondant.  Cake Couture fondant sets up super nice and firm without drying out allowing for sharp edge cutting.  

Step 3.  Cut V's, Y's, and wedges with a small sharp knife. (See picture!:))

Step 4.  Adhere the pieces to the cake by brushing on shortening.  You can use water as well, however, if you want to move a piece for better placing it might leave a mark... which is why we love using shortening:).

And that is it!!

Happy Cake Making!

Cake Couture Designer

How to make a Tutu Cake Board

The tutu cake is perfect for a baby or bridal shower... and let's not forget the beautiful ballerina!:-D  This is a quick tutorial on how to make the fluffy tutu cake board.


* 2 layers of tutu trim
* 9" cake boards (2 or 3) for spacing
* 14" cake drum for bottom
* Cake on a 10" cake drum
* Glue
* Stapler

Step 1.  The tutu trim:  Using a basting stitch stitch along the edge of each strip of tulle.  Next stitch another line next to your first line of stitches.  Gather the strip into a ruffle by taking the bobbin threads of both stitch lines and pull them out while scrunching the tulle together.  Repeat for all 8 strips.  Once 'scrunched' stitch the strips side by side 4 at a time creating two separate tutu 'layers'.  This gives you a nice full tutu look.  And, just in case you prefer to skip the sewing you can now get these off the shelf on our Etsy shop!

Step 2.  Take two or three 9" cake boards and glue them at the center of 14" cake drum.  This gives you the spacing to place the cake on.  This step also allows for super easy transport!:)

Step 3.  Once the 9" board is glued place one layer of tutu trim along the 9" board and secure with staples on the perimeter.  Repeat for the second layer or tutu trim.

Step 4.  Now you are ready to place the cake on top!!  Use a 10" cake drum.  If the cake is on it... even better!  Affix the 10" cake drum to the 9" cake board with glue.

 Thanks for reading and happy caking!!

Cake Couture Designer