Or maybe a cake challenge leads (a certain baker who shall not be named...*ahem*) to "need" a new toy.
In my case, it was spray food coloring. Have you heard of this stuff? It's exactly what it sounds like: edible spray paint. How fun is that? I'd been looking for an excuse to buy some...and then came autumn with its lovely multicolored leaves, just begging to be made into a cake.
So I thought, hmm...leaves...cake...this would be a great time to finally try fondant. It's got a
reputation for tasting bad and being finicky, but it was the most logical solution to my “how to make spray-paintable leaves” query. That's how we wound up with this month's cake: nut-covered chocolate decorated with autumn-colored fondant leaves.
It turns out that fondant is pretty easy to work with; it's like a stiff play dough. I used the marshmallow kind and it wasn't hard to make at all. There's one stage where you're adding powdered sugar and the whole thing sort of collapses into crumbly little pieces; just keep kneading, it'll come together. You have to knead pretty forcefully. It's a great stress reliever. Oh, and it tastes like really chewy marshmallows.
I colored the fondant green, cut out the leaves, and sprayed them with yellow and red food coloring. I like how they turned out, but for brighter fall colors, I could have dyed the fondant yellow (or left it white) and sprayed green and red and orange.
Surprise: spray food coloring stinks! It actually smells a lot like spray paint. The odor doesn't linger long but it's kind of in your face while you're using it. I recommend doing this by an open window if you have allergies.
For the frosting, I started with regular buttercream and added melted bitter chocolate (instead of cocoa powder)...seriously yummy frosting ensued. Chocolate buttercream has a rough texture and doesn't want to stick to the cake easily, BUT it tastes like fudge. I'd say that's worth the roughness.
If you, like me, have trouble getting your icing nice and smooth, crushed nuts is a great hack. I've employed various strategies in the past to disguise this flaw, and the crushed nuts solution is just so pretty. Bonus: the rough texture of chocolate buttercream holds the nuts in place nicely.
Doesn't this design look festive? I think it would be nice for Thanksgiving, or maybe for Christmas with poinsettias instead of leaves. You are planning to make at least one cake for the holidays, right? Right??
Well, I'm not. At least, I'm not making a "Thanksgiving" cake. The (wonderful) geek I married is getting something appropriately nerdy for his Thanksgiving-week birthday.
So, that's my theme for November's Cake of the Month Challenge: Geeky Cakes. Feel free to play along with my theme, or make up your own, but whatever you make this month...don't forget to take pictures!