I really wanted a centrepiece for the high tea on the weekend and the colour theme I was given was aqua. I have wanted to try an ombre cake for a while but I am not the best cook and I don’t do cake decorating often so here is MY version that I think anyone could do. It all starts with a store bought layered sponge cake and goes from there!
I love flowers. If you follow this blog you would have probably picked up on that! It’s not so much getting flowers that I love but making flowers out of a variety of materials and photographing the real ones. So when I decided on an ombre cake it was either going to have fondant ruffles or fondant flowers. I googled and tried many techniques, even from the pros but I just wasn’t that happy with how they turned out. Now, I have taught ceramics to students for a few years now and so I told myself I needed to treat the fondant kind of like it was clay. If you forget about the risk of failure and the cost of the materials and just get in and have a go, it sometimes makes it easier. I don’t worry too much about creative failure, not because it doesn’t happen (it happens all the time!) I just think sometimes you have to push materials as far as they will go for you and then the next time there is a pretty good chance of getting it right or at least better than the last time. I know these flowers are not perfect but they were better than the last ones I made.
I kneaded the icing a little and then rolled it into a ball (that’s right I didn’t even roll it out, shock!) Just like when you make a little clay pot, I made a depression in the middle using my thumb while holding it in the palm of my other hand and then pinched all around the edges. The wonkierit is, the more natural the end result will look. I also ruffled a few edges occasionally for effect. I placed my thin, flat, pinch pot into a muffin tray lined with kitchen paper, you could use foil too. Using a slightly smaller ball I made another one and then using the smallest ball I made another and pressed the three layers down in the centre to join them. I also added some silver sugar bling but edible pearls would have been perfect. Once they are layered, use some tissue or foil rolled into little strips to support the petals so they don’t fall down. I also used a toothpick to ‘lift and separate’ the petal layers and pinched and rolled the edges until I was happy with the look or until the icing started to get cranky about being moulded. The muffin trays help to give it a nice shape as well.
To make the fondant doily I just rolled the icing out and used a doily as a stamp, pressing and rolling it into the icing. I used my craft knife to cut it out. All the fondant decorations need to be left to dry and harden for a few days before use. I would have liked to show you pictures of each step and hopefully I can add some at a later date but do you know how hard it is to take your own pictures when your hands are sugary from the icing and you are trying to work quickly!
To make the ombre icing I used buttercream and coloured it in batches of varying shades of aqua. I added the buttercream to my piping bag in order from light to dark. Using a flat ruffle tip, I piped the icing all around the cake from the bottom to top. With the leftover darkest buttercream I covered the top of the cake. Using my spatula I smoothed out all the piped buttercream while leaving it a bit rustic, as I like that shabby buttercream look.
Tips I have picked up along the way;
- Wait for a good fondant day for making the decorations, not too hot, not too cold, not too dry and not too humid.
- Never leave fondant out, not even for a minute. If you are not using it keep it wrapped tightly in glad wrap or cover in plastic.
- Work on a surface you can peel off like baking paper or plastic wrap.
- You can use a little cornflour for dusting you rolling pin, hands or surfaces but not too much as it will dry out the fondant and make it crack.
- When icing your cake with buttercream spread a thin layer over the cake first and refrigerate until set a little. This will help stop the crumbs from getting dragged through your icing and ruining the look.