Tuesday, February 5, 2013

$20 Very Hungry Caterpillar Cake

I am always trying to save a buck when it comes to parties because it can slowly add up.  I love having a beautiful cake for the center of the table but not a fan of the price.  Last year, I created a digital design and had the baker print and apply it to the side of the cake.  This year.... I discovered marshmallow fondant.  Can you believe this cake cost me less than $20?! 

I completely understand why cakes cost so much.  Working with fondant and baking a cake takes so much time and effort.  I just was not up for paying big bucks.  So, we got a store bought cake and it cost $11.  I brushed off all the design with a knife  until the cake was plainly frosted.  You don't want to brush off all the frosting.

Then I made a full batch of white marshmallow fondant [recipe and tutorial HERE].  I rolled out a circular piece and plopped it onto the cake.  Be sure that you roll your fondant big enough to cover the entire thing.  Once it is placed, there is no turning back.  Also be sure that it isn't too thin or it will rip.  I used colored fondant to create all the pieces and placed them right on the cake.  I used gum balls on the bottom trim of the cake.  Not too shabby for my first time!  A huge difference from the before.

If you are considering doing this and have never worked with fondant here are some tips from a fellow beginner:

1. Be sure to practice before making and working with fondant before doing the real thing.

2.  Powder sugar is your friend but too much can ruin the fondant.  If your fondant gets too sticky, wash your hands, powder them with the sugar and then work with the fondant.

3.  To make the cake, I needed a ton of different colors, but not a whole batch of it.  The easiest way to make colored fondant is to cut the recipe into fourths.  [1 cup marshmallows, 1 cup powder sugar, etc.].  After the marshmallow and water have melted in the microwave add your food coloring [picture on the left].  Once you achieve the color you want, then add the powder sugar.  You will then end up with a small roll of fondant [picture on the right].  Wrap it tight in plastic wrap if you are saving it for later.

4.  You can create pieces for the top of the cake ahead of time and let them sit and dry.  I did that with the caterpillar and her name.

5.  Pieces that wrap around the cake need to be done right before you place them on because they still need to be malleable.  If the pieces dry before you place them on the cake and you try to put them on, they will break [trust me I know].  I you want to make them ahead of time just be sure to keep it wrapped up tight so it stays soft.

6.  If you have powder sugar remnants on your fondant that is okay.  A damp paper towel will wipe it right off.  

I definitely have a new respect for bakers and cake designers.  I now know why cakes cost so much, but if you want to save money and are up for a challenge then make some fondant and design your own!  The cake, fondant ingredients, and gumballs cost me less than $20!  You can't beat that for such a cute cake.  It was worth all the time and effort. 

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