The third course at Wilton is completely focused on fondant. If you liked playing with clay as a kid, or if you still like to, you will have a lot of fun working with fondant! From what I've read, I've realized that there are fondant lovers and haters out there and I believe I belong somewhere in between. I love the things you could do with fondant, but am not very fond of the taste. You could always peel of the fondant and eat the deliciousness under it. I don't think I would make a fondant cake for myself, but to create something fun and whimsical for kids, fondant is the way to go! It is a little challenging to work with, but it's also a whole lot of fun and the possibilities are endless.
I was busy with a few other things during the week of the final class, so I stuck with a very basic design and made the easiest flowers among the ones we had learned. We had to take a buttercream iced cake to class, which we then covered in fondant. To me covering the cake was the most challenging part and a hundred things went wrong when I was doing it. The good thing is you can cover most of your mistakes with a strategically placed decoration :). I had rolled my fondant way too thick and there were a lot of cracks, you can still see the ones on the top edge of the cake. But for my first time, I think I did OK.
For the cake, I tried this recipe that I've had bookmarked for a long time and its one of the best cakes I've ever made. It was incredibly moist and delicious! Another thing I tried was the Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMB) and its now my favorite frosting! SMB is not cloyingly sweet like the regular buttercream. It builds its structure from the whipped egg whites (don't worry, the egg whites are heated to a point where they are safe and not raw), instead of sugar, making it just sweet enough for a frosting and it's easy to work with too!
Moist Yellow Cake
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
3 cups sifted self raising flour
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp butter flavoring (I skipped this)
Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and line (3) 8" pans (I used only 2).
Beat the butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat for about 7 mins.
Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition.
Add flour and milk, alternating, beginning and ending with flour.
Add vanilla and butter flavoring and mix just until combined.
Divide the batter among the pans. Tap the pans on your counter to remove any air bubbles.
Bake for about 30 mins or until done.
Cool in pans for 10 mins.
Remove and immediately wrap each cake in plastic wrap to seal in moisture.
Cool completely on wire racks.
Once cool, remove from plastic and level the cakes. Fill and frost as desired.
Recipe from Bakerella.
Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(to fill and crumb coat an 8", 2 layer cake)
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
12 tbs butter, softened but cool
1/2 tsp vanilla
Make sure your bowl, whisk and all other tools you use to make the meringue are completely free of any grease. Take the egg whites and sugar in a big metal bowl and place the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Whisk gently but constantly until the mixture reaches a temperature of 140 degrees F on a candy thermometer, or until the egg whites are hot and you cannot feel the sugar granules when you rub the mixture between your fingers.
Remove from heat and whip the hot mixture, until it turns thick and glossy and white and and about doubles in volume. The bowl will be neutral and not hot at this point.
Then add the butter, a few tablespoons at a time, mixing continuously until it has a silky smooth texture. The mixture may look curdled at some time, but just keep mixing and it will come together soon! Mix in the vanilla.
For more details on SMB read this post at Sweetapolita.