The prerequisite for the Fondant and Gumpaste course is the Decorating Basics, and although both courses only consist of four two-hour classes, I did learn a lot each class. All the cake decorating classes are reasonably priced, especially since they are usually half off. But, I would caution anyone considering buying all the suggested materials and extra accessories that are recommended. Buying all the Wilton branded materials can really add up, plus Michaels’ only allows using the half price coupons on one item per day.
In the end, I settled on poppies for my final project because Remembrance Day is coming up. I don’t know if it’s entirely appropriate to make a cake for such an occasion, but I really couldn’t come up with anything else. The black fondant I used made the cake look a bit morbid, but the contrasting red and black colors gave it a dramatic look.
I purchased that jar of apple butter in Quebec produced by Mylliam Delice Maison. My one and only jar has been sitting in my fridge for more than a year and is about to expire. That is why I used most of it to fill my cake. It is a lightly colored spread, yet contains no lemon juice to help prevent it from browning. Unlike other apple butters, it actually contains butter! I would describe its taste as light and refreshing, but with a creamy texture, and I have and yet to come across anything like it. It tastes fantastic, and I can only get it in Quebec, which is why I have been clinging onto the jar for so long.
For the frosting, I used lemon extract instead of the usual vanilla, so that it would compliment the light flavour of the apple butter. I also added the zest of half a lemon to the cake batter to make it a little extra lemony. The fondant was also homemade. I made a fondant cake a few weeks ago, so I wanted to utilize the leftovers instead of wasting them. Making the fondant myself was a challenge, but a good learning experience. Because I used a marshmallow fondant recipe, I found it to be much softer than the Wilton pre-made kind, but much better tasting.
I prefer the old fashioned frosted cakes to the dentist visit inducing sugary dough. That’s why I maneuvered my fork around the layer of fondant on my slice of cake as I ate it. But, I think fondant cakes look great, and the possibilities are endless when it comes to molding and sculpting with it. I definitely think that my new found skill needs practice, but at least now I know the basic skills when it comes to making and decorating a fondant cake.
Lemon Apple Butter Layer Cake (Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Yellow Layer Cake Recipe)
- 1 3/4 cups Cake Flour, plus more for dusting the pans
- 4 Large Eggs, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup Whole Milk, at room temperature
- 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
- 1 1/2 cups Granulated Sugar
- 2 tsp Baking Powder
- 3/4 tsp Salt
- 1 cup Unsalted Butter, softened but still cool, cut into 16 pieces
- Zest of Half a Lemon
- 3/4 cup Apple Butter
- Buttercream Frosting (see recipe below)
- Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and preheat the oven to
350˚F. Line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment rounds. Generously grease and flour the pans, removing any excess flour. Whisk the eggs, milk and vanilla together in a small bowl.
- Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, lemon zest, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat the mixture at the lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds. Increase the speed to medium-low, add the butter 1 piece at a time; mix about 30 seconds, or until it resembles moist crumbs.
- Add the 1/2 cup of milk mixture and beat at medium-high until the batter is light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Reduce the speed to low, and gradually add in remaining milk mixture for about 15 seconds. The mixture will look slightly curdled.
- Divide the batter equally between the prepared cake pans (I use a scale). Spread the batter evenly across the pans, making sure to fill all the way to the edges. Lightly tap the pans against the counter to release any large air bubbles. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating pans about half way through. Once a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs, remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the pan perimeters to loosen, and remove from pans. Completely cool cakes on a wire rack before frosting.
- Spread a small smear of frosting on a cake board. Center first layer of completely cooled cake on board and pipe a thick frosting border on the perimeter of the cake. Spread the apple butter filling within the border. Place second layer of cake directly on top before frosting the entire cake. Decorate with fondant if desired. If you are not decorating with fondant, allow the outer layer of frosting to crust over before serving.
Lemon Buttercream Frosting (Adapted from Wilton Buttercream)
- 1 cup Butter, softened
- 1 tsp Lemon Extract
- 2 tsp Meringue Powder
- Pinch of Salt
- 4 cups Powdered Sugar
- 7-8 tsp Water
- In a stand mixer, cream together butter, lemon extract, meringue powder, and salt. On low speed, add powdered sugar 1/2 a cup at a time.
- Once the powdered sugar is fully incorporated, increase speed to medium high. Beat for 1 minute, until frosting is light and fluffy. Add 7-8 tsp water. If the frosting is still too thick add more water, one teaspoon at a time.
- Add color to frosting, and mix until incorporated if desired.