IT can be done. A tall 4-inch cake can be covered with fondant and the secret is – *cymbal clash* – buy it pre-made! Two weeks ago, after my attempt using my own home-made fondant failed miserably (as detailed here), I spent a few days panicking. I won’t be able to give Jess what she wants for her wedding cake. How!
Then I remembered – ask Yoda. Every apprentice has a mentor and mine – even though he doesn’t know it – is Andy Foo, executive pastry chef of the Grand Hyatt. I interviewed him a few years ago and had turned to him to make a four-tier dummy cake for my wedding in 2006. Since then, he has been the person to call when I hit a life-threatening baking crisis.
So I email-ed him about my fondant predicament and this is what I learnt. All baking professionals buy their fondant pre-made. And the brand that Yoda, and all the top hotels and bakeries in Singapore use, is Massa Ticino from Switzerland. It’ll have no problems covering a 4-inch tall cake, Yoda said. So I promptly drove all the way to its distributor in Defu Lane in Hougang to get a 7-kg tub.
When I cut out a slab and rolled it out, I almost wept with joy. The fondant is not sticky, and miraculously elastic and malleable. When it is thrown over a 4-inch cake, the “waves” that form around the sides can somehow stretch and contract at all the right places, wrapping the cake seamlessly. It was almost too good to be true.
What’s their secret ingredient? I don’t know. Whatever it is – even if it’s melamine – I’m their biggest fan.
Anyway, big big hugs and thanks to Chris and Sooch who offered some ideas when I sent out an SOS two weeks ago. I feel like a problem-child-made-good when I say to them (with tears welling up in eyes), “Pa, Ma, I did it!”
It never rains but it pours. For a good half a year, no one gets married and I don’t get to make any wedding cakes. Then two friends decided to get married this month – over the same weekend. But hey, no sweat. Jess & Han Ee is on Saturday, and Charmayne & Alvin is on Sunday. There’s nothing a little military-precision planning can’t do. Just start early.
Jess wanted a three-tier cake with polka dots in two shades of purple, shocking pink and aqua. Since I had to work on Wednesday and Thursday, I started making the polka dots a week earlier on a Saturday. The dots were made of home-made pastillage (icing sugar, gelatin, cornflour), rolled out and cut out using round icing tips. But some of the colours didn’t turn out right, while others – waddahekk! – lightened drastically after a few days. So I had to redo them on Monday and Wednesday. I am Miss Conscientious-lity.
I baked the cakes – chocolate sponge for J&H; butter sponge for C&A – on Tuesday. It took an entire day because my little rinky-dink oven can only bake one cake at a time. (Put two in there and the bottom one just won’t cook.) When they were done, I wrapped each one in cling film, stacked them in the fridge, and hoped that my copious use of plastic wouldn’t raise sea levels somewhere. I also forced my mum and husband to consume all leftovers to make room for my babies.
I took leave on Friday to decorate Jess’ cake. The chocolate cakes were split and filled with whipped chocolate ganache (Jess wanted a full-on chocolate experience). Then I covered the cakes with the amazing Massa Ticino fondant and stuck on the polka dots with dabs of water. It took a few hours and my back got a beating. I suffer for my craft.
Once completed, the cakes spent the entire afternoon and night in my air-conditioned bedroom so the fondant and dots wouldn’t melt. The supporting dowels were sturdy drinking straws – in purple, of course, Jess’ favourite colour. You can bet that there were no wild movements in my bedroom that night. My cakes gotta sleep!
When the cake was assembled at White Rabbit, the gorgeous church-turned-restaurant venue where the wedding was held, it didn’t melt, topple, or do anything to damage my heart. I got the best compliment of the day when my lurves, S and L, raved about how it looked, then raved some more when they tucked in. L even had a second helping. Girlfriends are the best!
Ultimately, I’m pleased as punch that I contributed something to Jess’ big day. Jess, an ex-colleague from a very special time in my life when work was play, is forever the sunshine girl (who threw up Lana cake and swore never to drink tequila again. But did). And she shone none brighter than on her wedding day, looking impossibly romantic with a flower garland in her hair. Here’s to you, Jess, and your dashing new man. You’re gonna make some really cute babies 🙂