** NEWS FLASH!! **
We interrupt this regularly scheduled blog post to bring you the news that my beautiful older daughter and her loving (and tall) fiancé were married this past Sunday, on what was my husband’s and my 34th wedding anniversary! It was a wonderful day, filled with family and friends from far and near, and there were smiles and tears and laughter and love. But why do I bring it up here on a baking blog (other than the fact that I’m a proud mama)? Because as a Mama-baker with a very talented younger daughter, you can correctly guess that our kitchen didn’t remain quiet in the days leading up to the wedding…no, we created two Do-It-Yourself (or DIY) wedding cakes (the main cake and a surprise groom’s cake), plus several desserts for a pre-wedding Happy Hour for our out-of-town guests. Actually, let me correct that…we had three cakes at the wedding because my girls created a surprise anniversary cake for us also! Because I have so many different experiences to share with you, I’ve decided to devote the next few baking posts showing you what we made and how we made it. The first stop…the main 3-tier DIY wedding cake.
My daughter, award-winning cake decorator
I’ve mentioned before how talented my younger daughter is at cake decorating, and it’s not just me that says it (although as her mama I’m her biggest cheerleader). In Middle and High School, she entered the Orange County Fair’s cake decorating competition several years in a row, and always won First Place and even Best in Show. Over the years she has made custom birthday cakes, graduation cakes, and baby shower cakes, as well as her fantasy cakes for the competitions. We’re a great team, she and I…I’d bake the cakes and she’d decorate them. Fun times.
(Side Note: You can head to her Sweetheart Cakes and Treats page on Facebook to see more of her creations…it’s ok, I’ll wait…I still have some kitchen cleanup to do…)
(Back with me? Great!)
One secret to competing in cake decorating contests is that the cakes themselves aren’t cakes…they’re actually made of Styrofoam. Yup, you read that right – the cakes themselves aren’t edible. But it makes sense…those cakes have to sit out for days without wilting or spoiling, so the idea is you cover Styrofoam with fondant and then have at it with your designs. And since those cakes won’t be eaten, the quality (read: taste) of the fondant isn’t as important as the decorations themselves.
(I think I know where this is heading…)
When my older daughter got engaged, my younger daughter and I knew that we were going to have a DIY wedding cake. She designed a lovely 3-tier cake with a simple, yet elegant theme of watercolors and fresh flowers. I wanted that cake to be a recipe that the bride loved, namely Kahlua Cake. We also made a strategic decision: only the top tier would be edible…the lower 2 tiers would be Styrofoam like her competition cakes. This simplified the baking (and the cost) tremendously, especially since we had the groom’s cake to make as well and only a week to bake/decorate everything (I live in a small apartment without the walk-in refrigerator/freezer that commercial bakeries have…don’t judge).
Let’s make the fondant edible!
One complaint that I always have with fondant is that it basically tastes like soft plastic. It’s pretty and all, but it truly lacks in the deliciousness department. Well, my daughter solved this problem by finding a fondant hack, let’s call it a hybrid of homemade and ready-made fondant, on Liz Marek’s SugarGeekShow.com. And boy was it an improvement…this marshmallow fondant was smooth and pliable (even more than the fondant out of the box), was easier to roll out, and most importantly, it tasted great. The recipe also had another plus…because you’re mixing the boxed fondant with marshmallows, it stretched the amount of fondant coverage by 300%, and that really brought down the overall cost. Win!
I’ll encourage those interested in the how’s and why’s of this marshmallow fondant to head over to the website…Liz has a complete and detailed explanations there. (Side Note: Longtime readers know of my aversion to processed foods, and vegetable shortening definitely falls into that category. However, I relaxed my rules in this case…I really wanted this DIY wedding cake to taste great!)
LMF Marshmallow Fondant Recipe
Adapted from SugarGeekShow.com
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 lbs
- 2 lbs powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 lb marshmallows
- 1 ¼ lbs Wilton fondant, or equivalent
- 2 Tbsp warm water (for dark colors, use 1 Tbsp warm water and 1 Tbsp food color gel)
- 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
- Sift the powdered sugar and set aside in a large bowl. Place vegetable shortening in a stand mixer bowl.
- Heat marshmallows for 40 seconds in the microwave on high (or on stove top). Stir with spoon. Place marshmallows back into microwave and heat for another 30 seconds (or on stove top). Stir with spoon. Heat marshmallows (last time!) for 30 seconds in the microwave (or on stove top). Marshmallows should be ooey-gooey at this point and ready to be added to the mixer bowl. Pour the water on top of the marshmallows to get them to release from the sides of the bowl. Pour into bowl with vegetable shortening.
- Turn stand mixer on lowest setting with dough hook attachment. Add in half of your sifted powdered sugar, a measuring cup at a time, and let mix for 2 minutes (it will be really rough looking at first). Don’t stop mixing until it’s sticking to the sides of the bowl and looks smooth. Add in another cup of powdered sugar. Pull fondant off the dough hook attachment by putting vegetable shortening on your fingers and pulling it off the hook. Take the soft mixture out of the bowl and put it into the large bowl with the rest of the powdered sugar.
- Warm the Wilton fondant in the microwave for 40 seconds and add to the large bowl with the powdered sugar and marshmallow mix. Knead until powdered sugar, marshmallows and Wilton fondant is mostly incorporated. You may not use all of the powdered sugar depending on your climate and that is completely fine. Pull fondant like taffy until it is stretchy and smooth. If there are still rough spots or it’s tearing, put everything back in the microwave for 30-40 seconds to make it really hot and pull like taffy with shortening on your hands until it pulls without breaking.
- Store in a zip-lock bag at room temperature. Fondant will keep for months in a zip-lock bag. To use again, reheat and knead well until stretchy before each use. You can add color as desired but for dark colors, you should add them during the mixing process or you could get a sticky mess.
Since I was the baker & not the decorator, asked my daughter for her thoughts on using this marshmallow fondant. She said that she ended up using more powdered sugar than the recipe called for, especially at the end during kneading (it was really humid that day, and this factor depends on climate). She still got some of the “elephant skin” and tears, but shortening mostly fixed these problems. Her advice: don’t frost beneath the fondant (called the crumb coating) too thickly as it makes the sides too soft, and definitely chill the cake before and after frosting the sides before the fondant goes on.
Next time there’s a baking post (in 2 weeks), I’ll show you what went into making the incredible groom’s cake…a TARDIS from Dr. Who. Stay tuned! In the meantime, I’m going back to toasting the happy couple (and cleaning the kitchen!).
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!
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