Recently I saw a beautiful cake picture on Instagram. (The blog this picture was from is beautiful, too.) This cake looked so lovely and perfect that I immediately wanted to make it. Which is unusual because the cake was a fondant cake. And I don’t like fondant. Well, that is not really true. I like to do things with fondant just like I love to play with my daughter’s Play Doh. It’s fun to make little flowers and figures with fondant. But I really don’t like fondant on a cake. It’s too much and too sweet and I always fear I’ll end up in a sugar coma. Plus, fondant cakes usually look nice but taste meh. At least that’s my experience. (I grew up with cakes covered in whipped cream.)
So put the fondant on the side and throw it away like people always tell me? I really don’t like to do that either. I mean then you could indeed use Play Doh to decorate a cake – and recycle it. But this white ruffle cake that I saw on Instagram was so stunning that I really wanted to make it. Even though these kind of cakes are a pain to veganise. First of all you have to bake a cake that usually calls for a couple of eggs. Then you need a vegan buttercream (and I don’t like margarine based buttercreams), and finally you need to make your own fondant.
Well, now that I am thinking about it…this is exactly the right cake for me. Because when it comes to baking I really love a challenge. There’s been a fondant recipe on my blog for ages. I’ve got a couple of cake recipes on this blog already and a buttercream recipe that is both margarine and palm-oil free.
Thursday was a holiday in Germany and we’d taken Friday off so making a labour intense cake was exactly the right thing to do over this long weekend. I asked my daughter how she felt about homemade Play Doh and a cake and of course her answer was very predictable. I did regret it for a second though. That was when our whole kitchen was full of little fondant crumbs (they were even under our feet at some point) and F’s greasy and sugary fingerprints where everywhere in the house. (Because you just can’t decorate a cake and watch your child at the same time.)
Our first batch of fondant was indeed nothing more than Play Doh – it felt like pretty old Play Doh, too. Regular fondant made with gelatin has to rest for about 24 hours before it can be used. But my agar based version was quite crumbly after a day. Which is weird because I remember that when I made this recipe for the first time, I did use the fondant for weeks. To be safe I searched online for a couple of different recipes and found a German one with glycerine.Glycerine makes the fondant easier to work with. In Germany you can get it at every pharmacy or order it online. You only have to add a small amount and it seems to make a difference. My fondant was still a bit crumbly around the edges but otherwise it was very easy to work with and I could roll it out thinly with no problem at all.The original recipe called for 500 g of powdered sugar but I only needed about 350 to 400 g. It seems to be perfectly normal that the amount you need will vary. It seems to depend on the brand.
The cake I wanted to veganise did not only call for fondant, it also called for buttercream. I am not a fan of buttercream. It’s way too rich for me. But apparently it makes the fondant stick to the cake and it’s also necessary for a smooth look of the cake. You can spread it very evenly. Okay, I get that. Fat and sugar is always your friend. I decided to frost the cake with buttercream. But for the filling I made a lighter and fresh tasting yoghurt and raspberry based crème. Because balance.
If you decide to make this cake, it will take you two days. On the first day you have to bake the cakes and prepare them for the fondant icing. On the second day you prepare the fondant and decorate the cake. Because it’s still a rich cake and we are a small family I decided to go with a cake 18 cm in diameter. It makes 8 servings and if you’re as few as we are and decide to eat two servings each that cake is gone in no time. And since Friday was International Anti-Diet day we ate those two servings each.
The most challenging part of this cake project is writing it all down, by the way. Even in my mother tongue German I am struggling to explain the recipe. So I made a couple of pictures but I’ll also include two videos that I found helpful.
First of all it’s important that you frost your cake really well and that the buttercream is applied as smoothly as possible. I reserved a couple of tablespoons of frosting and after I took the cake out of the fridge the next morning I made sure to fill the remaining gaps with some more buttercream.
I rolled out the fondant pretty thinly and eyeballed the size I’d need for my cake. I didn’t measure anything, but there’s a tip on how to do it in this video, which will also explain the whole process of covering the cake in buttercream and applying the fondant layer. I didn’t use a fondant smoother, you can smooth out the fondant with your hands, too.
It’s important to dust your working surface with cornstarch and to move the fondant around a lot. Make sure it doesn’t stick or you’ll have to start all over. If you have leftover fondant you don’t need immediately, it’s really important to wrap it in plastic and store it airtight. It dries out quickly.
When I was done my fondant layer wasn’t perfectly smooth around the edges but that wasn’t important because it would be covered in ruffles anyway. Please watch this video to find out how to apply the ruffles.
- To make the cake, preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease two springform pans (diameter 18 cm).
- Combine flour, baking powder, and sugar in a bowl.
- Add liquid ingredients and mix well.
- Pour into pans and bake for 40 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
- Let cool for 10 minutes, remove from pans and transfer to a cake rack.
- Let cool completely.
- To make the filling, combine all ingredients and mix well.
- Set aside.
- To make the buttercream, whip the sugar and the coconut oil until light and creamy.
- Add agave nectar and raspberry filling and whip until well combined.
- To assemble the cake, trim the tops off both cakes to make flat surfaces.
- Cut both cakes in half horizontally.
- Spread one cake layer with 2-3 tablespoons of filling.
- Top with the second layer, spread filling on the layer and repeat.
- Put the last layer on top of the cake but don't cover it with filling.
- Cover the whole cake in buttercream.
- Frost the top of the cake first and then the sides.
- Work as precisely as you can so that the buttercream layer is really smooth and even.
- Reserve 2-3 tablespoons of buttercream so that you can even out small holes right before you apply the fondant.
- Refrigerate the cake over night.
- The next day prepare the fondant.
- Place half of the powdered sugar in a bowl
- In a small saucepan, combine agar, water, and agave syrup. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly.
- Stir constantly and simmer for one minute. Remove from heat and add coconut oil.
- Stir until oil is melted.
- Pour into the powdered sugar and knead until the mixture comes together.
- Add more powdered sugar and knead until the fondant is smooth and no longer sticky.
- Dust your working surface with cornstarch and roll out the fondant thinly. (I could almost see through mine.)
- Lift the fondant over the cake and then start to smooth the fondant out. (See first video above.)
- Cut away the excess fondant and wrap it in plastic immediately so it doesn't dry out.
- Once you've covered your cake, you can start decorating it.
- Have a small bowl with water and a brush ready.
- To apply the ruffles, roll out the remaining fondant and cut it into stripes. (Make sure to cover the stripes you aren't working with.)
- Start at the top of the cake and glue the fondant stripes to the side of the cake. (See second video.)
- If you have any leftovers and small cookie cutters, you can use the leftovers to decorate the top of the cake with small flowers etc.