(What follows will be mostly back story. Feel free to skip it.)
I'm new on here, and I've only recently started experimenting with baking. Before I had stuck mostly to basic cakes - nothing fancy. Well the past week I decided to give working with fondant a shot. I recently started volunteering for one of my local community theaters, and there's a potluck party every Friday, which is giving me the motivation I need to get baking on a regular basis and to make my baking awesome. The play that was running for the past three weeks closed this past Saturday, so I thought I'd make a cake that would replicate one of the scenes from the play. Yes, I know - how ambitious (read: stupid) for my first time ever working with fondant! Well the plan was to have a large rectangular chocolate cake as the bottom layer and a carved 'couch cake' on top of it. (This was also my first time ever attempting to carve a cake. Yeah, I'm ambitious.) The bottom layer was supposed to be the stage. Two of the characters were supposed to be sitting on the couch, as they are in the scene. One of the characters was supposed to be holding a fondant camera, filming the two characters on the couch. Another one of the other characters was supposed to be directing the whole thing. The last character, who is the narrator, was supposed to just be standing off to the side.
Set-back #1: The couch cake that I carved out of a basic box mix was a total bust. It didn't hold together at all. I found the "Enhanced Cake Formula" recipe on here, bought all the ingredients, and prepared to re-carve the couch. However, I ran out of time and didn't end up with a couch at all. The recipe was really yummy and everybody loved it, so at least I ended up with delicious cake!
(The actual topic of discussion basically begins here.)
Set-back #2: The fondant was SOOO annoying to work with. I made my own fondant out of marshmallows and icing sugar. I put all of my fondant in Ziploc bags while I was working with it, and it still kept turning rock-hard! I kept having to put it in the microwave for a few seconds and knead it with Crisco. Sometimes I would repeat this process so many times that it would end up super greasy and require some additional icing sugar to fix it, plus more food colouring to get it back to the shade it's supposed to be. How irritating!
Set-back #3: The figures I made were I guess too big (?), so they were a real pain to make stand up straight. They ones that were sitting down were fine, but the standing-up ones were really annoying. I had to keep sticking toothpicks into them, and even then they didn't hold their form (or not for very long at least).
Set-back #4: When I stuck them into the cake, they all fell over and destroyed the cake! I couldn't put them where I had intended to put them because they ruined the structural integrity of the spots I had placed them in. I took drinking straws and made holes in the remaining, somewhat non-destroyed parts of the cake and stuck them in there. I had to cling wrap them together so they could support each other and not fall all over the place.
Set-back #5: How on Earth do people transport such oddly-shaped cakes?! No way was it going to fit into my cake caddy! Was I supposed to take the figures in a bag and assemble them at the party, or what? I'm sure there's a way, but I don't know what it is. I ended up cling wrapping all the figures and wrapping the whole thing in a 'tent' of aluminum foil.
Here are some visuals for you all. Please note that I didn't have time to photograph them properly before rushing off the party (I was super late as it was), so the pictures of the individual figures were taken after the figures were taken off the cake and are somewhat messy-looking. Here they are: http://s1099.photobucket.com/user/mayday_minaj/slideshow/Skin%20Flick%20Cake
P.S.: For any of you who are wondering, the play the 'scene' on the cake is from Norm Foster's 'Skin Flick'.
P.P.S.: Yes, I know the figures are very tanned. I couldn't figure out how to make a skin tone that wasn't too pale or too tanned until half-way through but by then I was committed to the shade I had been using. I couldn't have had them all be different colours when the actors all pretty much had similar skin tones!
If anybody has any tips or advice, that would be very much appreciated!!! I'm considering just making my next figures out of clay! (I've never done that either. People do that, yes?) It sounds like clay would hold together better and probably be less heavy and cake-destroying!
Thanks in advance!!!
Edited by OttawaBaker - 10/1/13 at 5:05am