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Monday, March 5, 2012

Making a "Dummy" Cake Part 2

I think I figured out a few of the things I did wrong when I fumbled around for the first time trying to cover a Styrofoam cake dummy with fondant. The above flower, by the way, is a stargazer lily, the final flower taught in the new Wilton Course 4, Advanced Gum Paste Flowers. I just had the final session tonight, which is why this post will be relatively brief. Watch for instructions for this magnificent flower here soon! Anyway, I wanted to make a faux cake to display my gum paste flowers on, and it took some experimentation to figure out how to do it (and I'm still fine-tuning it; this is by no means the final word on "how it's done"). I mostly just want you to avoid some of my stupid mistakes. 

One thing you should do is start with a clean, dry dummy. After scraping all that horrible Wilton fondant from my first attempt off the dummy, I realized I'd been a bit too vigorous in my cleaning efforts and had pitted the dummy in many places. I sanded it as well as I could and then smeared the whole thing with Crisco, which I'm now convinced is the best way to get fondant to stick to Styrofoam. I made a batch of my fondant from scratch; even though nobody is going to be eating this fake cake, I left the vanilla in the recipe and let me tell you: this pile of Styrofoam smells delicious! The next time I attempt to cover a 2-tier cake like this I'll definitely double my recipe; I had to roll the fondant much too thin, and you can see a lot of the dummy's battle scars on the surface through the fondant. I've heard of folks covering their dummies with TWO thin layers of fondant instead of one thick one; I may actually give this a try. I put the dummy (already stuck to its cake board) on a turntable, smoothed the fondant down mostly with my hands, and then cut away a lot of the slack with kitchen shears, so the weight of the fondant wouldn't pull on, tear, or deform the sides. 
 With most of the slack gone, I cut the edge closely with a pizza cutter and removed the remainder of the slack. If everything is lined up evenly, you can spin the dummy (or cake) on the turntable while holding the cutter in place; you should get a nice, even cut around the base:
 To stack a second tier on top of this one, I used the "fondant as glue" approach again; it was one step from my first attempt with this project that worked well! I rolled out a very thin piece of fondant, brushed it on one side with water, and stuck it in the approximate center of the top:
 I painted the other side of the circle with water…
 …and stuck the top tier down on top of it. When the fondant dries, those tiers and board are pretty much stuck together for life!
 Other than using fondant as glue, my takeaways for you on the subject of covering a Styrofoam cake dummy with fondant are: 1) roll the fondant thick or use two thin layers, 2) coat the dummy with Crisco to give the fondant something to stick to, and 3) make sure the dummy is as smooth as possible (sand it if need be). You might consider finding a small display case to keep dust off all your hard work; I'm going to look into cases designed for dolls, but if it was smaller it might have fit well in a basketball, football helmet, or model car display case (frequently on sale at Michael's).
 I'll try to get the directions for this gum paste stargazer lily up soon! Mostly because I don't want to forget them myself…

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