Hi, i have been learning a lot from the questions and answers on this site for a few days now and decided it was time i said hello. I have never decorated a big cake before, only cupcakes and i really enjoyed it (even if they didnt turn out as nice as i imagined, but they always tasted good). I have just gone and told my little sister that i will make her a 21st bday cake so i have no turning back now, and i am very nervous and excited at the same time.
but i am having problems working out the different types of icing/ fondants etc, could someone please explain what different ones there are and what they are used for? i have bought ready rolled icing which i believe is ok to cover a cake but when i tried to make 3d figures from it it was a struggle to get them to do anything (stand straigh, arms to stay on etc)
and is there any recipes so i can make my own instead of buying it all the time.
First, welcome to CC. This is certainly a place to learn and you will find that everyone has an opinion! The challenge is in sorting out what you find to be the best.
Your subject is vast and there are many pages throughout the site. I lack the time to cover the many types of coverings and the pros and cons of each. But I will tell you what my favorites are: For covering the cake prior to "fondanting", I am sold on chocolate ganache. (Ganache is simply a combination of chocolate and cream. Either white or dark it provides a delicious, smooth foundation for the fondant.)
For the fondant, after trying many recipes, I love MFF. This is Michelle Foster's Fondant, the recipe is found here on CC in the recipe section. People who claim not to like the taste of fondant are usually surprised to find they love this recipe, and it is much cheaper to make than that purchased.The search should take you right to it. (There are also numerous threads on it.)
Finally, for figures and flowers, etc. I love to use gum paste. Or you can use a mixture of 50/50 gum paste and fondant, or even fondant with tylose added to stiffen it. My favorite recipe for gum paste is that provided by Nick Lodge. I find it most workable, better keeping and able to roll thinner than others I've tried. I just tried to check his website and find that all the links are gone. It looks like others have found the same difficulty but I find that one CC'r has posted it. It is at the bottom of this page:
(I'm really glad I printed it out as it is apparently difficult to find now. )
I hope this helps you somewhat. Good luck on your sister's cake. Best of all, have fun.
I hardly have time to make cakes so I don't make my fondant, even though I know how to make them all. You will hear about Marshmallow Fondant, so I thought I would give you a good starting point blog. Basically, for your figures, you need support like toothpicks, etc. You'll see a few samples at these links.