How to Work with Fondant

Wish to bake a cake that not only tastes good but looks excellent? Well, fondant is what you’re looking for. This edible icing, used for decorating or sculpting pastries and cakes, can be made at home. But there are certain facts you need to bear in mind while making and using it to create, incredible looking cakes.

  1. The thing with fondant is that it dries out rather quickly. So, if you’re looking to store it for some time, but not too long, you can keep it in a re-sealable plastic bag, after packing it in a plastic wrap.
  2. If it’s for a reasonably longer period of time, say for more than a month that you want store you fondant, roll it into a ball, brush its surface with a coating of hydrogenated vegetable oil (vegetable shortening). Then, pack it in a plastic wrap and store it in an air-tight container. Keep the container outside and not in a refrigerator.
  3. At times, fondant can get too sticky or too soft to roll in a plastic wrap. The solution to this tricky problem is to knead into the fondant, a little more powdered sugar.
  4. Want to roll out a fondant that has a smooth surface and allows for an easy release? Then, get yourself a silicone mat.
  5. While rolling out fondant, it’s best to avoid wearing clothes which are prone to shedding fibres. It might make a mess of your fondant if you have to pick the fibres off its surface.
  6. Smoothen your cake with a buttercream frosting to ensure an even surface before using the fondant.


How to Make Pure Vanilla Extract

Is baking cake at home, a frequent affair? Then it doesn’t harm to have a well-stocked kitchen, with the right ingredients at your disposal, every time you wish to indulge in a cake baking experience.

Among the essentials that you need to hoard, be sure that you don’t miss out on a bottle of pure vanilla extract. While you could easily purchase the same from your local market, making it at home will ensure that you get a pure extract, devoid of artificial flavours and harmful chemicals.

A pure vanilla extract is made from whole vanilla beans,infused in more than 35% alcohol. And it goes without saying that, better the quality of the beans, more superior will be the extract.

Here’s how to go about it-

  • Slice the vanilla beans longitudinally and store them in a glass bottle.
  • Now fill the bottle with alcohol till the sliced beans are totally submerged in it. As for the choice of alcohol, Vodka is usually preferred for its neutral taste but if you are in a mood to experiment, you can use rum or brandy to derive flavoured extracts.
  • That’s pretty much it. Keep the bottle away from sunlight in a cool, dark place. But you can only enjoy the fruits of your labour after 2 months. Allow the beans to infuse in alcohol till then and return to the bottle, twice a week, to give it a good shake.

After 8 weeks, voila! Your very own home made vanilla extract is ready.

How to Decorate a Cake

Planning to bake a cake at home? Can’t figure out how to give it the perfect look?

Here are some easy decorating ideas to help you get cracking with it!

  1. Marzipan

This almond infused fondant with its nutty crunch is a delightful option. It’s delicious to say the least and is extremely easy to work with.

  1. Fresh whipped Cream

Using fresh whipped cream to decorate your cake is bound to give it a classic touch. You can pipe it in swirls or spread it evenly across your cake and top it up with chocolates or fruits.

  1. Spreads

Time crunch?  Don’t worry. Spreads like nutella or marmalade can help you save the day. Just ladle the top your cake with a spread and garnish it with nuts, choco chips, sliced fruit or anything that you find handy.

  1. Butter Cream/Frosting

A concoction of all things nice: milk, butter, icing sugar and flavoured extracts. That’s butter cream for you.  To turn butter cream into a frosting, simply replace butter with cream cheese. You can pipe swirls of these or put an even spread on the top of your cake to give it, a heart warming touch.

  1. Royal Icing 

If elegance is what you are looking for in your cake, then royal icing is the thing for you.  It’s perfect for decorating a Christmas cake as it lends an ethereal snowy white look to it.

  1. Coconut Shreds

As a healthy alternative to icing sugar, dry shredded coconut can be used to decorate a cake. A layer of butter cream on top provides the perfect base for the shreds.

  1. Chocolate

One way to ensure that your cake is a hit is to use chocolate.  You can use it in any way that appeals to you. Melt it, mix it with cream, use coco powder as a light dusting- the possibilities are practically endless.

  1. Fondant

Fondant shapes make cakes visually delightful.  You can have multiple shapes dotting the top layer or just a single attractive centrepiece on the top of your cake.

  1. Marshmallows

Little ones love them. Topping up their birthday cakes with marshmallows is a great way to give them a wonderful treat on this special occasion.

Creams used in Baking Cakes

While baking a cake, it is important to consider which cream you’d use, based on white kind of a cake you are looking for. Creams vary in fat content and this needs to be factored in before you actually embark on baking your cake. Here are the three most commonly used creams for cake baking.

Crème Fraîche

It has a rich velvety texture with a slightly tangy taste and is made by mixing sour and fresh cream with a little amount of butter milk. Its low viscosity and high fat content, ranging in between 30- 35 %, makes it ideal for using in desserts.

Double Cream

It has extremely high butterfat content, amounting to no less than 48%. Its rich and creamy texture makes cakes baked with it, a real treat. If over whipped, this cream might become too thick for use. So, tablespoons of milk are often added to the cream before whipping it.

Whipping/Whipped Cream

With a minimum fat content of 30 %, this cream is used extensively as cake topping and filling.   It is thinner than double cream and is often flavoured with vanilla. Chantilly Cream is the name given to vanilla flavoured whipped cream.