This is the first in a series of blog posts covering the most common mistakes made by cake artists when making cake toppers. I’ve spoken to cake friends, I’ve surveyed my mailing list and I’ve used my own experiences to bring you this information which I know I would have found useful some years ago!
You read that right, my own experiences have also informed this blog series – I’ve been in business for seven years now and I’m not afraid to admit the first at least three of those years were spent making these mistakes! Until I stepped out of my comfort zone, realised no-one had actually set the rules and decided to start experimenting.
First up, we’re talking about MATERIALS.
For many cake artists, especially those just starting out, it’s common to think that cake toppers have to be made out of fondant. After all, that’s usually what’s going on the cake (though not always – buttercream cakes are great too!), so why not use it for the topper/s too?
So you may ask, WHY is using fondant for the cake topper a mistake? I’m here to tell you why …
– Fondant is SOFT. It’s meant to be, and it’s meant to stay that way, otherwise when your clients cut in to their fondant covered cake they’re going to find it less than tasty
– When it does go slightly firmer, it takes AGES. We’re all busy in our business, right? Who has the time to WAIT and have to keep coming back to it to check if it’s firm enough yet!
– Fondant doesn’t BLEND well (ok it does blend but you have to really work at it and when you use water on fondant it usually leaves a residue behind)
– Fondant is HEAVY. Have you ever tried attaching a fondant arm to a figure and encouraging it to stay there without having to prop it up or using something strong inside?
Ok yes I know you can add tylose or similar to fondant to get it to dry firmer, but really all that does is dry out the material and make it harder to work with.
So now I hear you asking – what do I use instead of fondant? My answer? Experiment! Don’t be afraid to try different mediums until you find something you like. Buy in small quantities until you’re happy with your choice.
Popular alternatives include gumpaste, flower paste, modelling paste, sculpting paste, modelling chocolate. Some of these things are much the same as each other but depending on where you are, where you buy it and which brand you’re buying, it might be called something different.
My favourite materials to use? A mixture! I like gumpaste for how firm it dries, but I don’t love it for its lack of ‘blendability’ (Is that a word?! I like to make up words, FYI). So more often than not, I am using a gumpaste/modelling chocolate mix. This gives a firmer hold whilst making it nicer to work with, easier to blend, and a better longer term outcome.
Tell me – which medium do you prefer to use when making cake toppers? I’d love to hear from you!
If you’re on my mailing list (join here), you get to catch a glimpse of the VERY FIRST cake topper I made – I’m using this as a prime example of what NOT to do!
Until next time …