Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Painter's Palette Cake with Drip Tier

I have a cousin that always request the most interesting cake designs.  Because of her I get to experiment and learn challenging new techniques.  (And she doesn't get upset when I mess up and have to improvise.)

This month's new technique was the "Drip Cake".

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But before I could try out the drip technique I had to make the other do-dads for the cake.  First I made the painter's palette.  I cut out the shape from brown tinted fondant mixed with tylose powder.

I wanted the palette to have a marbled wood grained look, but I couldn't get enough colored veins into the fondant so I just brushed the different colors onto the palette using powder food color.  I used brown, black and yellow to get the effect I wanted.

Then I cut out circles of fondant tinted in red, blue, green, orange, and yellow.  To give the circles rounded edges and a domed shape, I placed plastic wrap over the fondant before cutting out the circles.

The top tier of the cake is supposed to look like a paint can, so I decided to make it a double barrel cake.  I planned on it being 6 inches round and 8 inches high, but when I started to assemble the tier it looked a little top heavy.  I didn't want the cake tipping over during transport, so I decided to make the top 4" out of a Styrofoam cake dummy.  (I used Styrofoam so often I should buy stock in it.)

I also didn't want to try and smooth a round piece of fondant over a 6" x 8" cake , so I took the easy way out and cut a long 8" x 20" piece of fondant and just wrapped it around the side of the double barrel cake.

Using this method results in seam at the back of the cake, but this process is so much easier than trying to drape and smooth fondant over a pencil shaped cake!  And who cares about a little seam at the back of the cake??  Not me.

To trim any excess fondant from the top of the cake I used a long razor blade.  For tasks like this, these long blades work so much better than X-Acto knives.

Then the real assembly started.  First I used my ACE Food Safe Extruder and made the turquoise fondant ribbon and bow for the bottom tier, and then I made the same size ribbon out of gray for the top tier.  I cut a 6-1/4 inch circle out of gray fondant and placed it on the top.  Next I cut out the pink circles and carefully measured and positioned then on the cake.  For the name I used some letter cutters, and for the handle of the paint can I used the extruder and a half-circle shaped disk.

Now for the hard part - the DRIP.  I did some research and found that I could use either white chocolate ganache tinted with oil based color, or I could use pre-colored Candy Melts and make ganache out of them.  I chose the Candy Melt route.  For a practice test I made Candy Melts ganache using a 2:1 ratio (60 grans if candy and 30 grabs of heavy whipping cream) but this made the ganache much, much too thin.  Next I tried a 5:1 ratio (60 grams of candy and 12 grams of heavy cream) but this was too thick.  I finally settled on a 3-1/2:1 ratio.  Next I had to decide on the delivery method: spoon or squeeze bottle.  I tried them both and while the spoon method had less mess, the squeeze bottle method gave more control over the exact placement of the drip.

I'm a precise kind of person so I decided on the squeeze bottle method.  I mixed up batches of  yellow, pink, orange, turquoise, and purple candy melts ganache.  I also had blue and green candy melts, but the blue and green look too similar to the turquoise so I didn't use them.  I also only had 5 squeeze bottles.

So time to start dripping...

Not too bad, but could have been better.  Here are some lessons I learned:
  1. My ganache was too thick.  Next time I will go with a 3:1 ratio.  
  2. You have to keep the ganache warm to keep it flowing smoothly.  I microwaved the squeeze bottle before every use, but it still got a little clumpy.  
  3. You need to keep a little gap between each drip.  If you put the drips too close together they just merge into a big lump.  Drip one line and while still gently squeezing the bottle move the tip over about 1/4 inch.  Once you have a large enough gap, start squeeze out the next drip.
  4. Next time I will keep the bottles in a pot of warm water instead of repeatedly microwaving the bottles.  I'm not sure if the glass door of my microwave was flawed or if it was the 50 odd microwaving sessions, but the next morning when I used the microwave to boil some water for  my tea this is what happened.   

The glass just shattered when the microwave finished the cycle.  There was a big boom and I heard all this crackling.  I didn't know what had happened.  I thought the cup had exploded but instead it was the glass in the door.

Oh well, such is life, but at least the cake came out cute.

Happy Decorating,


Supply List: 

Mona Lisa Fondant
ACE Food Safe Extruder
Tylose powder
Pastry Mat with Grid Lines
Sculpey Super Slicer Razor Blade
Cake Boss Circle Cutters
Cake Boss Letter Cutters
14" Cake Drum
Alligator Impression Mat (used on the fondant covering the cake drums)
Wilton Candy Melts
Wilton Squeeze Bottles