A friend of mine asked if I could make a cake for her wedding, I have always provided cakes for gatherings and parties and I love it. I would say I am pretty skilled at it. However, I have never done a wedding cake before... "Oh I can handle it" HA! I told her yes before she showed me what she wanted, a three tiered monster with fondant peacock tail feathers cascading down the side and continuing out into cupcakes. The tiered cake... Not really what I am worried about, I have stacked cakes before, however I have not covered them in fondant. I have never worked with fondant. To say I am nervous that it turns out disastrous is an understatement. It makes me sick every time I think about it. So, my main concerns are: if I freeze the cake ahead of time how far ahead of the date can I freeze it? When should I take it out? Does it need to defrost before applying the fondant? Will the cake turn to mush from condensation? I live in North east Florida. What about bulging? Will the fondant get condensation on it?
I think I can cover it well enough. That doesn't seem to difficult but then the feather decorations.
I will need probably 200 fondant feathers. Is there any way to make and store them a few days ahead because it will take FOREVER to make that many, or will they get hard? I need to drape them over the cake. Also should I use just plain fondant or a half fondant half gum paste? I also don't know how much fondant to order for that, there are charts that tell you how much you will need to cover a cake but nothing that tells me how far it will spread rolled out. The feathers will probably be about 3 in wide and 5 or 6 in long.
I know this is a lengthy post but I NEED HELP! I am worrying sick over these questions and have yet to find the answers. Anything would be appreciated.
How soon is the wedding? I think you have it backwards, I would start making feathers every free moment you have. And worry about the cakes later. I don't like to freeze cakes, I make them 2 days before, ice them,and keep them sealed in Tupper wares in a very cool basement. Then the day before, I can decorate with all the items I made days or weeks before. So I'm guessing you learned something here, to SEE the cake first, then agree to make it. Hope that didn't sound harsh. I am a people pleaser, but the hardest thing, which we all should practice saying is NO. I don't know how many times I'm saying in my head "DON'T DO IT" Then when I open my mouth I say "Sure, no problem!" Then I panic for weeks on how to do the cake. Is it too late to turn the cake down, and not do it? Does the customer have time to find someone else? I know I'm not alot of help, I would just breath, make as much as you can in advance.....feathers, peacock body, and anything else. 3 or 4 days before date, make and tint all of your icing, including some royal for gluing your feathers, some Gum paste glue for feathers also. Really, the biggest thing is the feathers. Just have everything made and ready for assembling. If you have the bird body made and cakes covered, you can show up a few hours early and assemble it all on site. Hope there is some encouragement in my post. I make the white chocolate fondant here on the site, and that recipe would be enough to cover all three tiers. But use store bought fondant and Gum paste for the items that won't be eaten, and let them harden for assembling.
I agree with Maroonghia start the feathers first. If you look at it though there really aren't that many I would do a 50/50 of fondant/gum paste. I also wouldn't make all the feathers make about half of the ones needed for the cake and all the ones needed for the cupcakes. The reason I say this is because some of the feathers curve around the tiers or shoot out and if you make them all flat then they won't all lay correctly and it you set them out on something to make them wavy you may not get the right bends in them and end up with feathers you just couldn't use because of how they dried. it looks like about half are for the most part flat. Once the fondant/gumpaste dries it will crack if you try to bend it so I would have extra colored 50/50 and do the last half right before you need to assemble the cake. cover them with plastic wrap and take them with you. The bird I would do out of RKT brush on some melted chocolate to smooth it out and cover with fondant. This you can make well in advance as the chocolate and fondant will keep the RKT just make sure you put it in a large Ziplock kind of air tight bag. The little gold balls on top just make them and put them on the wire ahead of time and don't put those on until you are assembling the cake. For the cakes... Every once in a while I will freeze them. They taste just like they did when I baked them. The trick is when I bake then I let them cool all the way not a touch of heat can be left. Double wrap in plastic wrap and freeze. I will pull them out the morning I am going to cover them as long as I am doing it in the afternoon. You need to lay them out still wrapped on a kitchen towel and cover with another towel. This allows them to warm up slowly and any condensation will collect on the outside of the plastic wrap and be absorbed by the towel. Also don't put fondant on a frozen cake. I also never put my cakes in the fridge to cool before or after I put fondant on them. I found out the hard way that with the humidity the cake will sweat and melt the fondant. Sorry this is so long but hope it helps.
A couple of things jumped out at me from your post that I think you are underestimating. You mention bulging which I assume means you are using buttercream under the fondant. Use the search button and read threads that tell you how to prevent this. Are you making your own fondant or using premade, I don't have a problem with either, but I would strongly suggest you make a small round practice cake following the advice on resting your cake etc which you will find to prevent bulging and then cover it with fondant. The sides of the cake are visible, there is nowhere to hide if the cake is bulging and the fondant is not smooth - I would definitely have a practice go at that.
The normal height of each tier is 4"/10cm so I am wondering about your measurements of 3 inches wide and 5/6 inches long for the feathers, this seems too big to me if you look at the feathers in the photo in ratio to the cake.
Most of the feathers are clearly dry and firm so I would be making those suckers now, make sure you store them in a cardboard box out of direct sunlight so they don't fade and are all the same colour, don't store them in an airtight container. The cupcakes only have the eye of the feather on them, I would definitely make them in advance and glue on with RI. I think you are underestimating how long it is going to take to make that many feathers, forget making a few days in advance, make them a few weeks in advance. Make sure you make spares in case of breakages.
I freeze my cakes with no problems, bake, wrap well and freeze when the cake has just come to room temp they will come out as fresh as if you have just made them.
You don't mention that there is a huge freaking bird on top of the cake and how you are going to make it?
I would suggest once you have cut some of the feathers, so lay them on some kind of former to give them some movement so that when they dry they don't dry flat. I have had to make a cake very similar to this one and painting the feathers can be very taxing and time consuming so I would suggest the sooner you start the better. I used an awesome feather mat to help with the details and I saw it here: http://autumncarpenter.com/product/peacock-feather-texture-sheet-set/84. There is also a link to a cake that was done by Autumn that may help you in your design.
Good luck to you; can't wait to see your finished product.
Thank you all so much for your responses, I realise that I left out a few important things. There won't be a bird on the top, she just wants a letter S topper. Also, the picture I posted the feathers will have that look but I would like them to lay on the cake like the ones in the picture I will post with this. Which is why I was wondering if I could make them ahead and have them still conform to the cake like that.
Also, how much fondant do you think I will need for the feathers? I want to order Satin Ice online but don't know how much to order
You could stack dummy cakes to use as formers for the feathers while they dry.
In terms of quantities, why don't you cut out a feather from fondant, weigh it up and then multiply by the number of feathers you need? Round up and order that amount of fondant.
re the feathers -- and you can just knead cornstarch into fondant and i'd suggest flavoring it too -- with an appropriate lorann oil type flavor -- it's candy and people love to eat it when it's crispy like this -- it's easy to make extras once you get rolling and i usually set some out for other vendors to eat while we set up at the reception site too --
best feathers and all to you :)
Winniemog you are a genius! I never would have thought of either of those ideas!:) thank you
k8memphis, I think it may have cut off some of your comment
sorry no it's my shorthand i meant 're' like regarding the feathers -- adding to what others have said about the feathers -- should have put a colon on there -- i meant you don't have to use gum paste you can just use cornstarch if you want --it's cheaper and works perfectly --
re: the feathers -- and you can just knead cornstarch into fondant and i'd suggest flavoring it too -- with an appropriate lorann oil type flavor -- it's candy and people love to eat it when it's crispy like this -- it's easy to make extras once you get rolling and i usually set some out for other vendors to eat while we set up at the reception site too --
best feathers and all to you :)
Oh okay:) thank you:)
Winniemog, you are a genius! Great idea with the stacking of dummies. Thanks for that input.
One more thing about the feathers - - definitely make all of them ahead of time so they're all the same color, etc. However, unless you just happen to want them hard, I would sandwich them between 2 layers of plastic wrap and layer them flat in an airtight container and store them someplace dark and cool. This will keep them soft and you can drape them however you want when you set up the cake.