Let’s have a moment to consider fondant. This was my first time experimenting with the substance, prompted by the fabulous and inspiring cookbook Gravity Cakes by Jakki Friedman and Francesca Librae (who, consequently, I imagine would be just the sort of kindred spirits I like to befriend, based purely on their silly taste and body of work).
Fondant is bread dough made of powdered sugar and gelatin. It’s a strange mix between pie dough and gum. Mine tasted pretty good, but mostly served the purpose of structure and tidying up the cake. Ooh, and the stream of Guinness cascading into the chocolate cake from above.
Brought this anti-gravity Guinness Cake to the first of the Midcity Supper Club gatherings, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, and I can honestly say it was the proudest I have ever felt in a food offering. I felt like I was ten again bringing my diorama of the Alaskan mountain ranges to school—walking ginger-steps over each crack in the sidewalk, tottering my precious on the cake plate.
The cake cookbook was super helpful in navigating the first-time physics lessons of a fondant cake. Level four layers of chocolate cake (I used their recipe for chocolate cake, which was sturdy and yummy). “Crumb-coat” with buttercream frosting before adding the fondant.
For the fondant, roll it, drape it, trim, stamp and paint, arrange the handle and insert a straw/chopstick around which to mold your beer stream. Then top with foam frosting and voila!
Basic Rolled Fondant
1 (.25 ounce) package unflavored gelatin or agar
¼ cup cold water
½ cup glucose syrup or corn syrup
1 tablespoon glycerin
2 tablespoons (1oz/30g) shortening or butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
Combine gelatin and cold water; let stand until thick. Place gelatin mixture in top of double boiler and heat until dissolved.
Add glucose and glycerin, mix well. Stir in shortening and just before completely melted, remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Mixture should cool until lukewarm.
Place 4 cups confectioners’ sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and using a wooden spoon, stir in the lukewarm gelatin mixture. Mix in sugar and add more a little at a time, until stickiness disappears. Knead in remaining sugar. Knead until the fondant is smooth, pliable and does not stick to your hands. If fondant is too soft, add more sugar; if too stiff, add water (a drop at a time).
Use fondant immediately or store in airtight container in fridge. When ready to use, bring to room temperature and knead again until soft.
I used the Swiss Buttercream recipe from another fine Robert Rose publication, Buttercream Basics by Carey Madden, and it was easy to shape into Guinness foam. Many eggs dedicated themselves to this project. Please, please, try this at home. So much fun and fondant was not as difficult as I thought it would be to make.