Inga's Indulgence

Friday, February 11, 2011

Let Them Eat Cake Part II

I’m proud to say that I conquered my cake-making phobia. I finally completed the cake for my friend’s baby shower, and, surprisingly enough, it was not a horrendous disaster. Having put a lot of thought into the cake’s design, I ended up settling on a onsie-shaped cake. Simple enough for an “experienced amateur” like myself, but cute and bold enough to win some smiles, I decided that this design would work best.

 I started by making fondant the night before.  I know the word “fondant” and the process of making it might scare many of you off, but hang in there. It’s really not that difficult.
So, as I mentioned in my previous post, fondant is the smooth cake covering that has gained sort of a bad rep lately. It’s rubbery texture and uber sugary taste causes most people to peel it off of their cake and leave it behind on their plates. I found an alternative, marshmallow-based fondant recipe that, not only tastes better, but is much easier to make than the one commonly used by pastry chefs.

Here’s how I did it…
You will need:
2, 10 oz packages of marshmallows
4 tbsp water
Canola (or vegetable) oil, as needed
Blue food coloring (drops or paste)
4 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
1lb box confectioners’ sugar
1 large microwave-safe bowl
1 medium microwave-safe bowl
Wooden spoon or spatula
Parchment paper or aluminum foil

*I chose a blue/brown color scheme because my friend is having a boy, but feel free to experiment with whatever colors you want.

  1. Prepare materials: Grease the inside of your bowls and wooden spoon with oil. Place 15 oz of the marshmallows (1 ½ bags) into the large bowl, and the rest of the marshmallows into the medium bowl. Line your work surface with parchment paper, taping it down so that it doesn’t move. 
  2. Work with one bowl at a time: Microwave the large bowl until marshmallows have puffed up, 1 ½ -2 minutes. Add a few drops of the food coloring, and stir with greased spoon. Continue to add food coloring until the marshmallows are a baby blue color (Make it slightly darker than what you want the finished product to look like, because the confectioners’ sugar will lighten the color).
  3. Begin to sift the confectioners sugar into the colored marshmallows: Continue to sift and stir until the mixture is still sticky, but forms a uniform mass. Sprinkle some confectioners’ sugar on your work surface, and transfer mixture from bowl to work surface. Oil your hands and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Begin to knead the mixture by hand, working more sugar in as you go. Try to add as little sugar as it takes to form  a soft dough. It should still be somewhat sticky, but just as you feel that it is manageable enough to form into a ball of dough, stop adding sugar. (In total, you should have used at least half of the box of sugar)
  4. Repeat process with medium bowl, using cocoa powder instead of the food coloring to form a pastel brown color (Add more cocoa powder to adjust color, if necessary). This dough will obviously require less sugar than the blue dough.
  5. Brush each piece of fondant lightly with oil, and wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Store the fondant at room temperature until ready for use. It can be stored at room temperature for up to a month as long as it is tightly wrapped.
Pheww... that wasn’t so bad, was it?

Now the cake…
I decided to make a chocolate cake, cause what pregnant woman (or woman, in general) wouldn’t want chocolate.

You will need:
4 cups All Purpose flour          1 cup vegetable oil                      
   2 cups cocoa powder              4 eggs                                           
4 cups sugar                             4 tsp vanilla extract                    
2 tsp baking soda                    2 cups sour cream                        
2 tsp baking powder               2 cups coffee, room temperature                                        
1 tsp salt                                  
parchment paper
non-stick cooking spray
1/2 sheet pan(18"x13") though a large square pan of similar dimensions is ideal                                  

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (if your oven has a convection option, use it). Spray sheet pan with non-stick spray, and cover with parchment, spraying parchment as well. If you have more than 1 sheet pan, great. If not, you’ll have to bake in 3 batches.
  2. Using an electric mixer with a whisk attachment, combine all of the dry ingredients (first 6) in a large bowl. You may also work by hand, using a whisk.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine remaining wet ingredients. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the wet ingredients to the dry, and mix until batter is smooth. Distribute batter evenly among sheet pans, or if working with only one, pour 1/3 of the batter into sheet pan. Bake 15-17 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in sheet pan before removing. Repeat until you have made 3 cakes.
For the filling:

I decided to fill the cake with a chocolate pastry cream and an almond whipped cream.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Pastry cream, really? I had those very same thoughts. And even though I’ve made pastry cream in the past (and it’s really not that hard,) I opted for a short cut. That short cut was chocolate pudding. Crazy, right?! Hear me out before you judge me.
A. It’s a great time saver – instant takes 5 minutes.
B. It gives the cake a richer chocolate flavor, and makes it super moist.
As for the whipped cream, that’s easy enough for anyone to do. You whip it; that’s pretty much it.

For the filling, I used:
1 package instant chocolate pudding (which requires 2 cups of milk to prepare)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 tbsp sugar
3 tsp almond extract (you can use any extract or flavoring you want)

Combine the heavy cream, sugar and almond extract in a medium bowl. Using a standing mixer, beat the mixture until stiff peaks form. Oh, and if you want to prepare the whipped cream a few hours ahead of time, make sure to chill your bowl and whisk in the freezer for 15 minutes before using. 

And now for the fun part…assembly

Pick a platter on which to assemble your cake. Make sure it’s big enough and not too heavy, because once you start assembling your cake chances are you won’t be able to move it.

  you will need:
  Your baked and cooled cakes
        Prepared chocolate pudding
        Prepared whipped cream
        prepared fondant
        Confectioners sugar
        Offset spatula
        Rolling pin
        Parchment paper
        Pastry brush
        ¼ cup vodka
        Candy buttons (you can get these at a cake supply store)
        3 oz semi-sweet chocolate
        2 oz white chocolate (optional)

  1. Place one cake layer onto platter. Top with half of the chocolate pudding. Using the offset spatula, spread the pudding evenly across entire cake, leaving about ½-inch border on each side. Follow, by spreading 1/3 of the whipped cream on top. Top with second layer of cake. Repeat with a layer of pudding, and a layer of whipped cream. Top with final cake layer, and frost with remaining whipped cream.

  1. Cut the cake into the shape of a onsie. If you happen to have a 6 or 9 month onsie laying around the house, you can use it as your guide. If not, your imagination will work just fine (it’s a pretty straight forward shape). Don’t discard the excess cake pieces just yet; you might need to use them to adjust your cake. Set cake aside.

  1. Cover your work surface with parchment paper, and dust with confectioners’ sugar. Dust your rolling pin with sugar, and begin to roll the blue fondant. Work from the middle outward, turning fondant 180 degrees every now and then. Roll into a large rectangle that is a little over than a ¼-inch thick (don’t make it too thin, as it may tear). Transfer rolled fondant from work surface to cake by rolling onto rolling pin and then unrolling over the cake. Cover all but the sleeves of the cake with the blue fondant. Gently smooth the fondant over and around the cake, and trim off excess, leaving an extra inch at the bottom just in case. Tuck the ends under the cake.

  1. Roll out the brown fondant. Cut 2 large pieces to cover the sleeves of the cake, a 5”x4” rectangle to go in the center of the onsie, and reserve a few small pieces of fondant for details. Cover the sleeves with the fondant as you did the rest of the cake. Attach fondant rectangle to cake by brushing some vodka on the back. Use the vodka to attach a button at each corner of the rectangle. Cut three strips out of the reserved piece of fondant, and use for details on onsie. Use vodka to attach pieces to the cake as well.

  1. Place the semi-sweet chocolate in a microwave-safe container and microwave for about 45 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds until it is completely smooth. Transfer melted chocolate to a ziplock bag, and snip a small piece off one edge of the bag. Use the chocolate to write a message on the cake (in the brown rectangle).
*If you want to add some extra details to the cake, like a collar, you can melt white chocolate.


  1. Inga, thank you for making this amazing cake! It was delicious and the marshmallow-based fondant was just the perfect touch on top of the yummy chocolate. Lily and I both really appreciate the hard work. Love you!

  2. Inga, this is totally, absolutely, amazingly, fantastic! What an imagination you have. It looks beautiful :)