It seems like all the pretty cakes now are decorated with fondant. While I’ve dabbled in it, I still prefer frosting my cakes with buttercream and just randomly using fondant for decorations – like the initial and cute baby tennis shoes above. But I admit, while the buttercream is more edible, the fondant is neater looking. So I experimented with making my buttercream so smooth that it looks like fondant.
If you do a search, you can find different ways to do this. I started with using printer paper and smoothing over the crusted buttercream with my hand in a light circular motion, which worked somewhat ok. I also tried the same idea with paper towels. You can see an example of using parchment paper on this youtube video.
Finally I settled on using a small foam paint roller, which seems to me to be simpler than the paper methods. Having your cake on a turntable will make the foam roller method work the best too.
I patterned this baby shower cake after the invitation and decorations. The father is a big Carolina Tarheel fan, but the mom did NOT want any basketball theme. So the girls throwing the shower went with a safari theme but in baby blue, which just happened to also be Carolina blue. My compromise – to the delight of the father – was the little blue Converse tennis shoes done in fondant as the cake topper. I also did one cake layer (and 2 dozen cupcakes) in matching blue velvet cake, which was a big hit.
Of course, you smooth the buttercream as good as you can with the spatula first. Then after the icing has crusted, you lightly go over it with the foam roller. Here’s a youtube video demonstrating the roller technique: Smoothing buttercream with a paint roller.
For this cake, I used white fondant and colored it blue for the tennis shoes. I did use blue and black buttercream for the cheetah spots and smoothed them with the roller after they had crusted to get that flat look. The blue zebra stripes are fondant. The white balls are piped buttercream, tip 24.
Here’s the pattern and instructions I used for the little Converse shoes. Thanks Deborah! I threaded them with narrow ribbon instead of trying to make fondant shoestrings. I know my limitations. They were a challenge to do, but were really cute and had a great impact, so it was worth the trouble.
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- Wilton Tip 24 – This is the 3 pc set I got – better deal than just the one tip. And I do use the other two tips often.
- Disposable plastic icing bags. This is a good deal for 50 bags. Cut the corner off and stick the tip in. Throw away when finished.
- Icing spatulas. I use the small one for small tiers and the large ones for large tiers. Dip in hot water first to spread smoothly.
- Foam 4 inch paint roller (I keep a separate one just for cakes – don’t use it for paint too – obviously.)
- Cake turntable. These things are a lifesaver when decorating a cake.
- White fondant.
- Black fondant.
- Fondant cutting tools.
- Black icing gel.
Disclaimer: I am not a professional baker and decorator, so I’m sure I’m not doing this the “correct” way. These are just my tips on how I decorate cakes, based on my amateur experience and trial and error.