Monday, February 23, 2009

Brandied Mandarin Honey Tarts & My First Fondant Cake

Made some mini tarts recently.

The filling is honey based with just enough orange for that extra zest. The mandarins on top are heavily soaked in brandy with a final brush of honey. I personally am a purist where I don't exactly love citrus fruits in my food (never quite understood limau kasturi in Laksa, lemon cheese cakes and orange flavoured chocolates) but I thought I might give this recipe a try (with own improvisation). Didn't turn out too bad actually :)

What filled my days this week was my attempt to "beautify" my Grandad's 83rd birthday cake with fondant. I read up and watched tonnes of how-to-videos on fondant/sugar paste and challenged myself to present a cake that not only tastes great but looks good as well.

For the cake itself, I decided on a rich carrot cake with cream cheese frosting (didn't want to succumb to yet another chocolate cake, been baking all variations of the choc cake/pie/tart to death!). Since the carrot cake is heavy and densed, I figured it can definitely take the weight of the rolled fondant, and it did!

So here's what I did :

Day 1 : Made my first (ever) batch of rolled fondant.
  • Dividing the completed ball of fondant into three separate smaller balls, I coloured one ball Red and another was Light Mauve. The third ball remained White.
  • Rolled out the Red fondant and cut out hearts with a fondant cutter. Repeated the same with the Mauve. Set hearts aside to dry.
  • Attempted to colour the third ball Grey. Didn't work. Chucked it out.
Day 4 : Made another batch of fondant to cover cake.
  • Made an Orangey-Brown coloured fondant to go with the color of the carrot cake.
  • Stashed the fondant into the fridge, to be used when needed (in the hope that I didn't change my mind by then, merited by the difficulty in handling this batch in the hot weather on that day).
Day 5 : Baked the carrot cake and covered it in butter cream
  • Baked two 30cm x 30cm carrot cakes, creamed the top of one cake with the cream cheese frosting, stacked the other cake on top of the cream frosting.
  • Spreaded butter cream all over the stacked cakes.
  • Kept the creamed cake in the fridge, to be covered in fondant the next day.
* I personally think that a butter creamed cake looks rather neat, sans fondant :)

Day 6 : Covered the cake in rolled fondant
  • Kneaded the Orangey-Brown fondant and rolled it out (due to not being blessed with airconditioning in my work area, I had to re-do this bit a few times as the fondant stuck onto my stainless steel counter top causing it to rip when I lifted it! Not fun when that happens).
  • Placed the fondant onto the cake and levelled the surface with a smoother (had some problems with the 4 sides, and strained my neck to create sharp edges at the corners where the top meets the sides). I could have done a precise job but the humidity was causing the butter cream underneath to soften, so I ignored my over-compulsiveness and hastily relinquished.
  • Quickly chucked the covered cake into the fridge (fridge was set to the lowest possible temperature to avoid condensation when the time came for it to once again face the humidity).

Day 7 : Decorate cake with hearts
  • Took the cake out of the fridge just before Grandad arrived for the cake cutting.
  • Decorated with the hearts made from Day 1.

I am not exactly thrilled at the results but seeing that it is my first time with fondant, I'd say I did so-so. The carrot cake and frosting tasted great though :)

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