Secrets Revealed: How To Make Simple, Fast, & Easy Fondant Roses

The title is the perfect summary for this blog, and for today’s western world, and contains the three most coveted words: simple, fast, and easy. Three words one might not associate with beautiful fondant roses.  Now, to be clear, fondant roses can be elaborate, beautiful works of art. While I know some cake artists will argue that they can make their flower’s rival the natural rose, I will not. I can only endeavor to resemble.

But, now I am going to tell & show you in true blog fashion how you can make your own easy rose. You can make it as big or as small as you like. The only tools you need are:

  • fondant, this can purchased at Michaels, Walmart or a decorating supply company. It is sold in varying packaging, remember 4 oz will yield about 20 roses w/  nine petals.
  • shortening, (aka crisco)
  • a knife – a clean kitchen knife will do just fine; or a clean utility knife designated for food use only.

First, fondant: it does not like humidity and dries out very quickly. I usually break apart a nice handful of fondant and cover the rest with plastic wrap and stick it in a zip tip bag until I need it again.

When the fondant first comes out it is typically very firm and not pliable like you may have been expecting. That’s ok. It’s revivable. All it needs is some shortening – crisco works great. I generally add a finger-ful at a time, kneading it in, which is about a tablespoon or less. You want the fondant to be playable, smooth, not tearing or cracking when you play with it, like silly putty.

Once it is nice and happy roll it into a thin log (if your log is too long, remove the excess and cover it with plastic wrap).  I suggest the diameter of the log be about an inch. *Note: the larger the rose you want the bigger the diameter should be.

  

Now, take your knife and slice even pieces – you want at least 8 pieces, but I suggest cutting many more. Lay out all your pieces on a non-stick clean surface (a silpat works great) and cover with plastic wrap.

Next take one piece and squeeze it between your thumb and forefinger. I rub a half moon shape with my forefinger against the fondant, so the outer edges are thinner and petal shaped.

 To form the center take your first petal and using the top right edge (if you’re left-handed the top left edge), make a cone shape by crossing down and over.

That is your center. 

(Personal note: don’t judge your center till you’ve completed your first rose. Then you can look back and decide if you like it or not. Also, practice makes perfect)

For the starter petals, one at a time repeat the above step in thinning and smoothing out the petal. Then cup the bottom and left side of the petal it around the base and cone, only slightly taller than the tip of the cone.  Leave one side with a thin flap (this is where you next petal will start).

Generally after the first 3 petals, you have a rose bud.

Add more petals, a fuller flower. As you rotate the bud adding petals, try to make it so that the petal intersections do not align in every ‘layer’ of petals. As your rose grows and is getting more full,  thin out the outer petals all the more when forming, so that they are larger, thinner, andmore delicate.  *Note: This is when your inner artist comes out, depending if you want a more open rose, formal rose, closed rose, etc.

Make the rose as big as you like. I’m making a medium size. Once you are finished, sit back and ooh & ahh over your handy work!

Let the roses dry on a bumpy soft surface – like an egg crate or foam cushion, somewhere where it can be upright and soft enough for the petals to dry in their shape. To save your fondant, simple group all discarded pieces with any fondant put to the side, re knead it together to make a cohesive ball (you will most likely need to add shortening), and then wrap with plastic wrap and store in a zip-tie bag or air-free container.

Now, you may be thinking, that is not fast, easy and simple. Well, for one, my instructions are in the baby step. Secondly, do another couple of roses and you will see they come together much faster and much easier! Simple and by you! Perfect to adorn your next special dessert!!

The Mystery Behind Specialty Cake Pricing Revealed

I get asked all the time ‘why do wedding cakes cost so much?’ why are they charged by the slice’? So this blog I am dedicating to answer those questions for the industry as a whole, not necessarily reflecting SMHP’s practices / value system.

So why is it that I can buy a cake box mix off my supermarket shelf and a can of icing for $7.50 – average- and yet when I go to a bakery or specialty cake store they charge so much more? Well, let’s break it down. In the cake mix you bought that contains your dry ingredients – flour, sugar, baking powder, salt – and whatever flavoring (chocolate, vanilla, lemon, etc). At bakeries we tend to use higher quality ingredients – in particular flour and flavorings, and typically we use real butter, and real dairy, (not dehydrated liquid) ingredients. Thanks to inflation and global economics, wheat and dairy prices are continuously going up, and have no sign of slowing down or stopping.

The media, believe it or not, has also played a large roll. With all the t.v./magazine/ internet exposure, ‘gourmand’s in our communities are praising bakeries  who push themselves to make the best, most spectacular cakes, and absolutely includes the fillings and frostings. Buttercreams in particular. Now, the word buttercream is made up of two words butter and cream,  which unfortunately now is no longer inexpensive. And when done right, is really good. With all the variety and variations out there today, the only cost decreasing option is to use a high quality fat (a gourmet phrase for crisco) and to some this is not a palatable option.

So, to recap, first of all is the cost of ingredients – high quality, delicious ingredients make delicious cakes. Second : the mere quantity or volume of recipes it requires to make large cakes. Unless you are an experienced baker used to baking for a crowd, you don’t think of the volume of recipes it takes to create a single tier. For instance, a 10″ round cake often needs 2 ½ – 3 times a recipe (the variable being in the height of the pan), which is the equivalent of 3 to 4 cake mix boxes (plus all the eggs, milk or oil, etc).

The third  pricing factor: Electricity (which, again thanks to our energy policy is ever rising) adds up and is vital in cake prep and execution (ie actually baking them). Excellent quality cakes that bake consistently beautiful are made in really good ovens, with even heat dispensation, etc., And of course oddly enough, we bakers prefer to see what we’re doing so that means light… you get the drift.

Finally: infrastructure. Large cakes are heavy! And therefore have to supported. At the very least there is one cake board per tier and most likely supports (dowels) inside all but the top tier, to keep the cake from collapsing on it itself. And course a wedding cake needs to sit on something which will support the weight (usually 75 -100 lbs or more) and make it stable enough to be moved from the bakery to the venue. …

Many bakeries add additional costs for fondant, artistic work, and time. Having gumpaste or sugar flowers are expensive, partly for the gumpaste material used to create them but mainly for the amount of time and labour it takes to make them. They are beautiful, and they are a piece of art. And one that will last forever or until you eat it 🙂  Truthfully, the more detail (of any sort) on a cake the more you will be charged for artistic time – it is all hand done!

Ok, so why do they charge by the slice? you might be wondering. Due to shows such as Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss as well as the continuous demand for cakes customized to each bridal couple’s taste, how cakes are priced had to change. Gone are the days when brides walked in, pointed to a portfolio book and said ‘I want that one’, and the price was on the bottom. (There was no deviating from style, flavor or filling – could would be the only variable usually).

One of our wedding cakes being cut by the bridal couple, Photo by JSchmittPhoto-

Now, brides may ask that the mutation be the inspiration for her cake, or bring in several cut out pictures of different cakes and ask to have their cake be a combination of their favorite parts. To that end, the industry had to adapt and it’s solution was to come up with a price based on the amount of servings you want the cake to render. Typically, this is a summation of the cost of ingredients. Many bakeries have different cake slice prices based on whether or not the cake will be covered in fondant or buttercream, have fresh fillings or flavorings (categorized by ingredient costs), and generally all bakeries have an additional artistic fee, depending on the level of detail decoration.

Last point: The more national exposure the baker has, allows that the baker the earned right to charge more for their per slice fee – it’s like buying band name jeans over generic.

Now, why do many venues say they charge a cake – cutting fee? Well, that is entirely out of the hands of the bakeries, and is often the venue’s way of ‘taking a piece of the pie’, as they try and use the lure of not charging a cutting fee if you order a cake from their venue. Personally, I think it stinks, but that’s just my opinion.

So, I hope this helps when you order an specialty cake or even baked goods. Baker’s / bakeries aren’t trying to scalp you, there is more to than meets the eye 🙂

Gluten-Free Sweets

I can not believe that it is March 11, the clock’s sped up one hour last night, and yet somehow it feels like it’s sped up one whole month! I am most shocked that it has been almost a whole month since I have last posted something – which I will be playing catch up in the coming weeks. Many fun experiences have occurred, and yet the most ironic of all is that I have actually been busy writing blog entries for other sites that I am connected with.

So, while we re-engage and catch up, dear reader, I am submitting now one of my favorites entries recently written, about gluten-free desserts.

Sit back, wet your tongue and hopifully awaken your appetite, and enjoy the read! I will be back soon with a ‘newsy – blog’.

I never cease to be amazed at how many persons with celiac’s disease, aka suffer from a Gluten intolerance, expect to compromise on taste.  I am here to tell you, you don’t have to.

Gluten Free does not automatically mean you must feel like you are pic-nicking on the beach and sand has invaded each and every bite, or that this lovely taste fills your mouth, pleasure erupts on your lips and then, WHAM, the after taste hits and spoils the experience. OR, there are those delicious looking gourmet treats in the case, or packaged at the grocery, or pictured on line; a small fortune is extracted for their purchase; you wait with anticipation to finally enjoy the first bite….it’s so promising. Typically you take your first bite and disappointment replaces pleasure.  The exquisitely packaged and tempting treat is flavorless, or hard, or dry or all of the above, possibly has a weird texture or flavor and into the trash it goes.  Unfortunately, baking gluten free at home does not typically render more favorable results. So you Glutenites tend to either give up all together, or just know it won’t taste like the original and accept that…. don’t. There are those of us professionals, who believe the gluten-free item should be so close to the original that the difference can only be detected when side by side.  This  includes the likes of dinner rolls, muffins, pie crusts, cakes, cupcakes, cookies… whatever you are craving.

Your science lesson: Gluten free flours react differently than traditional flours when combined with other ingredients; for instance a true Southern butter cake when gluten free won’t be as rich as the original because the butter does not permeate the alternative flours the same way. In a blind taste test the gluten free butter cake was declared delicious and was not detected, until the traditional and gluten free were side by side. (The richness or depth of flavor in the two is very different, though the texture is similar.) When a blind taste test was conducted with Red Velvet and Chocolate, 85% could not distinguish between the traditional and Gluten free, even side by side; those who could tell in the end, struggled with their decision. These are examples of how Gluten free should be! (Equal results were found with the bakery goods).

If one of you is Gluten free do not hesitate to have the entire cake Gluten free; if it is deliciously executed your guests will never know and y’all can enjoy whatever bite you like.  The only negative note, which has to be addressed is cost.  Gluten free does not have to cost you a fortune to be good, however be aware that Gluten free will cost more as alternative flours are very expensive. Insider tip: if anyone is charging you more than 30% over the price of the exact same traditional counterpart, shop around; you are being gouged.

Take away: Glutenites, don’t give up, Gluten free is not all the same. Keep your standards high; there are Gluten free baked goods which will evoke Sweet Memories!