Crumb Coating a Cake- Fondant pt. 1

Something I have really gotten into the last little while is cakes! Ben and I decided we wanted to make a cake for every family member on their birthdays, & so far it has been really fun!

 We made this cake for Ben's sister Clara's 17th birthday. She works at a movie theater, so we went with that for a theme!

After researching a lot of tutorials and blogs, as well as a lot of trial and error.... I have found some pretty easy techniques. So if you are interested and brave enough to try it out, being able to make fondant cakes is a really fun way to make a day special. :)
I'll be doing a 2 part tutorial, one for the initial cake parts and crumb coat and one for the fondant.

Part 1: How to Crumb Coat a cake!
First of all, whenever you are making a decorated cake, the most important thing to have is a great base! Making sure your cake layers are baked evenly and long enough is the best way to make sure your cake turns out. The last thing you want is a big crumbly mess, especially when you are going to be laying fondant or thick icing on the cake.
So, the first thing you need are cake pans, I love the basic Wilton pans HERE, Ive never had a problem with them sticking like I've had with some expensive pans. Dont you love it when the cheaper things are better?!

I used 8 inch and 6 inch rounds for the movie theater cake. I did 4 layers. 2 for each pan. When filling the pans make sure they are sprayed with cooking spray VERY WELL. You need to be able to slide those layer right out without worrying about pieces sticking to the pan. A smooth layer will make your icing job SO SO much easier. Filling them up a little less than 3/4 of the way usually gives me the perfect height.

After they are baked, then flip them upside down on cooling racks. Let them cool off completely.

Now Its time to level the cake!
Getting cake boards (or making them by just cutting out a piece of cardboard the right size) will help you throughout the process. I usually cover mine in tin foil. Place your first layer on the board and set it on your counter. You will need to make the cake level in order for it to stack correctly. Do this by either using a large knife and cutting away a little bit at a time until its level or getting a cake leveler. (pictured below) This thing is genius! All you do is adjust the little wire to the height you would like the cake layer and slowly saw back and forth until the piece is completely off. You can find a leveler HERE, they also have these at any craft store, I've even seen them in the craft section at Walmart.

It should look like this when it is finished! 

 It is important that the corners are squared off, if you level too high the cake will have a curve, this will make it difficult to stack evenly and give your cake a little bit of instability which makes icing it very difficult.
Do this with all the layers!
After you finish leveling all the layers then you need to stack them. Place the first layer, flat &baked side down, on your cake board. Next you can either start stacking or place the board on a cake stand. I find that a spinning cake stand makes icing the cake so much easier. Pictured below the one I use. You can find it online HERE
You can either pipe frosting onto the layer or use a spatula. I usually just use a spatula, Like the one HERE, get a good amount in a pile right on the layer and spread it around evenly until you have a good thick layer of frosting. The best frosting to use is butter cream and you can find a GREAT recipe HERE. It literally takes only a few minutes to make your own butter cream, but if you would rather buy it make sure it is creamy and not too thick or heavy. Using the spinning cake stand helps because you can get a nice even layer with your frosting (Pictured Below.) You don't need to be worried about it being messy or anything at this point, You will smooth everything out later.

After you have the frosting on that first layer you are ready to stack! Gently pic up the next layer and place it (leveled side down) onto your frosted layer. If you put enough frosting on you should be able to adjust the second layer to match perfectly pretty easily.  
Next you will do the same thing to the top of the 2 layers, and then start piling frosting on the sides. More is better, because it is easier to remove frosting then it is to fix a crumble mess if you didn't put enough on. Use your spatula to coat the whole cake, spinning the stand will help to make it as even as possible.

After the whole thing is covered you will need to do the final evening out. Having an even crumb coat under your fondant is so important in making sure the fondant is smooth. The best tool I have found to smooth out the frosting is a cake scraper. You can find it HERE.
You want to slide it along the sides of the cake in order to make sure the frosting layer is even and smooth. (I forgot to take a picture of this step somehow, so here is a googled image of what the process looks like!)

Step back every once and a while to make sure it is smooth and even. After you have that all done you should have a perfect crumb coat! Put your cake in the fridge for at least a couple hours to set, it is SO much easier to place fondant on a chilled cake! I usually put mine in overnight for the best results, but if you only have a few hours it is ok. The longer the better! You want it to be set and ready!  

After you put it in the fridge you are DONE! Woohoo! You know how to crumb coat now! Next is the fun part! If you are confused or having a hard time with any of the steps feel free to comment or email me, also i've found that one of the best ways to learn or get better at cake technique is watching YouTube tutorials. Just search for whatever technique you need help with and you are bound to find some good tips!  

Make sure you check back for part 2 (fondant decorating )soon! I will link it up to this page when it is done :)

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