Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My Big Cake Adventure - A Trio of Half Sheet Cakes Part 2

The completed cakes
My "Big Cake Adventure" began at work. In Part 1 I told you about my job. I am employed full-time AND am a home baker. A home baker who did not fully understand the amount of work it would take to complete three half sheet cakes in a small home kitchen, using a normal oven, and a hand held mixer. However, the end result was worth it! The third through sixth grade students made a point to tell me how much they liked the cakes and how good the cakes were. Was it worth all the work on my weekend? I think so. 
Our MAP theme for this year - "Superheros Fly Away With a Good Book" 
Planning the Decorations
Once the theme for the testing was set, the search for three, 8.5 x11 inch clip art pictures began. The clip art pictures can not be too intricate because you will be cutting each picture apart to use as pattern pieces. I found the two clip art pictures below using a Google image search.
I made two copies of each picture. One copy is to determine color, add my variations, and give me a master picture to guide me. The other copy is cut apart to be used as pattern pieces for cutting the fondant pieces out. I use a paring knife that has a thin blade with a very narrow tip. A pizza cutter, round and square cookie cutter sets, and the open end of decorating tips are all very useful for cutting out fondant pieces. I use square cookie cutters to cut out squares of fondant. Then, a pattern piece is laid on top of the square and the square is trimmed and shaped into the correct shape. 

Color Selection
The first colors I knew would be on the cake are our school colors - black and gold (yellow). Plus, I wanted to use blue and green for the super hero costumes. Another item to think about was the color of my home made, rolled butter cream fondant.

I make chocolate fondant for black decorations and white rolled butter cream fondant (vanilla) for all decorations that are not black. This led me to make the following color choices:
  • black - super hero eagle silhouette, boots, belts, masks, letter tiles, and hair
  • yellow fondant - capes, belt buckles, and chest emblems
  • yellow butter cream frosting - lettering
  • dark brown (chocolate) - books and hair
  • light brown (a blend of both fondants) - skin and eyes
  • blue - costume and letter tiles
  • green - costume and letter tiles

Type of Food Coloring
  • yellow liquid food coloring
  • black gel food coloring
  • royal blue gel food coloring
  • kelly green gel food coloring
  • pink and copper gel food coloring (for the girl super hero's skin)

Suggested Timeline for a Home Baker 

Three days before the event
  • Buy or make cake boards. If making cake boards, use a heavy duty material! Believe me when I tell you even two layers of cardboard is too light for a cake this heavy. If I EVER tackle a cake this big again, I am making cake boards with quarter inch plywood. Then, I am keeping them forever! Learn from me.......Please.
  • Buy, or make all the frosting and fondant that you will need for cakes. I ended up making two double batches of butter cream frosting. I made each doubled batch of butter cream frosting in a four quart ice cream bucket. It was so nice to make and store frosting in the ice cream container.
  • Rolled butter cream fondant is easy to make and store. I like to separate the fondant into four equal parts, of about three quarters of a pound each, and flatten each into a disk. Then, I wrap each disk in plastic wrap, place the disk in a zip top bag, and place the bagged and wrapped fondant in the refrigerator. 
Two days before the event
  • Bake the cake, or cakes. A half sheet cake takes about 55 to 60 minutes to bake. 
  • Cool the cake for 5 minutes in the pan.
  • Put cake on a cooling rack and cool completely. Overlapping two cooling racks will work. NOTE - Do not use a cooling rack with a grid pattern. The grid will remove part of your cake top. Learn from my experience. 
  • Remove your fondant and frosting from the refrigerator so it can warm up and be ready to roll, or spread.
  • Place cake on prepared cake board. I did not find it necessary to trim the cake tops after cooling them. 
  • Frost cool cake with a thin, "dirty frosting" layer to seal the cake. 
  • Keep cake in a cool room, or in a refrigerator
  • Make your fondant pieces and place them on a parchment paper lined tray. Apply lettering to any fondant letter tiles you are using. Air drying them will make placing them on the cake top much easier. Keep far away from water, or moisture of any kind. Fondant will melt if it gets wet, or damp.
One day before the event
  • Remove frosting from the refrigerator and let it warm up. You will need to stir it, but I do not beat my finished butter cream frosting with a mixer. You can ruin a batch of home made butter cream frosting by over beating it. The fats and sugar separate and the frosting will look curdled. 
  • Early in the day, frost cake with its final layer of frosting. I waited about an hour for the butter cream frosting to form a crust. My home made butter cream frosting forms a crust in about thirty minutes, but I usually wait about an hour. 
  • Begin assembling decorations on top of your frosted cake. Push fondant decorations gently into the crusted frosting.
Sallee's Silky Smooth Butter Cream Frosting recipe                     Click here

Rolled Butter Cream Fondant recipe                                                Click here

Chocolate Fondant - Use the Rolled Butter Cream Fondant recipe. You will add 1/2 cup of baking cocoa along with the vanilla extract and salt. 

Is this enough information to help you begin a big cake adventure?

If you have any questions, post a comment, or email me through my website: