Last week I shared with you my new found treasure, the book Kids’ Cakes from the Whimsical Bakehouse: And Other Treats for Colorful Celebrations by Liv and Kaye Hansen. One of the things I love about the book is the fun, kid-friendly recipes. I couldn’t wait to try the recipe for Root Beer Cake and use it to come up with my own version of Root Beer Float Cake.
I baked the cakes but, instead of making four 7-inch cakes like the recipe directs, I made two 8 inch cakes. It took longer to bake because they were thicker. I can’t remember the exact amount of time but you just need to keep an eye on them towards the end and make sure you test them with a tooth pick.
Once they had completely cooled I made a batch of root beer icing. I sort of made this up but it turned out really yummy. I took a standard shortening-based buttercream icing, replacing the butter extract with root beer extract and the liquid with root beer.
I then torted my cakes, filled them with non-dairy whipped topping and iced the whole cake in root beer icing.
I wanted the cake to remind me of a root beer float when I looked at it so I decided that I should stick with caramel and brown colors and should give it a bubbly look. The following is a tutorial of how I created this look using fondant.
1. Coloring the Fondant
The first step was to get the fondant the color I wanted. I used about 2 1/2 to 3 pounds of fondant and kneaded it with small amounts of shortening to get it workable. Once it was easy to knead I used a tooth pick to add some ivory paste color.
I kneaded this through the fondant until all streaks were gone and I had the color I wanted.
2. Rolling out the Fondant
First I measured the height of my cake then stuck it in the freezer to firm up while I rolled out the fondant.
It was 4 1/4 inches tall. The diameter was 8 inches. You have to total up the diameter and twice the height to figure out how large your fondant circle should be. I figured out that I needed a 16 1/2 inch circle.
Next, I wiped down my mat with some shortening then, using my knuckles, I pounded the fondant down to flatten it out a bit.
You will notice the blue Silicone Mat I am working on. It is designed to be used for rolling out fondant. I love it and highly recommend it, especially when you are covering large cakes. It is a bit pricey,though, so another option is to go to your local fabric store and purchase some vinyl. You can always just roll out directly onto your counter too. Just make sure you are constantly checking that your fondant isn’t sticking to the surface.
Then I rolled it out slightly less than 1/4 inch thick and made sure I had a circle at least 16 1/2 inches in diameter.
3. Covering the Cake
I removed the cake from the freezer. It was now firm so I needed to work fast to take advantage of that firmness. First I took a damp paper towel and ran it along the sides of the cake. This makes the sides a little tacky and allows the fondant to stick better to the cake.
I then, lifted my whole mat and gently laid it on top of the cake, making sure it was centered so that the fondant would cover all the sides. If you don’t have a mat to work on, carefully roll the fondant loosely onto your rolling pin and use the rolling pin to lift it onto your cake. You will need to dust it with some cornstarch if there are any sticky spots so that it doesn’t stick onto itself or the rolling pin.
Once it was in place I carefully peeled my mat from the fondant.
4. Smoothing the Fondant
When the mat has been removed the fondant will be shiny and a little sticky. You need to dust it with corn starch to dry it out a bit and allow you to run your hands smoothly over it. An easy way to make a corn starch duster is to take a pair of panty hose and cut off one of the legs. Fill the hose with about a 1/4 cup of corn starch and then twist the top of it and push it back through itself to create a double layer of hose. Finish it off by tying a knot with the remaining top of the hose and trimming it down to just above the knot. Be sure to dust the top and sides of your fondant.
When it is no longer sticky, start running your hands over it to gently stretch it into place. Start at the top of the sides, working around the whole cake and slowly lowering your way down. You will need to lift the excess fondant to help stretch and work out any pleats. Make sure that you work evenly around the cake and don’t just flatten one section then try to flatten another. You will not be able to get the pleats out completely if you do that.
Oh, one more hint, be sure to remove all jewelry before doing this. It is a real bummer when your ring tears a hole in your beautiful fondant.
When your hands have worked it all the way down around the whole cake you can switch over to fondant smoothers and use them to continue to smoothing out the top and sides and make sure the fondant is adhering properly.
When you have it completely covered, use your smoother to press down on the cake board and make a crease line at the base of your cake. This gives you a nice line to cut on when removing your excess fondant.
If you get an air bubble, just use a pin to pop it.
Then use your fingers to press out the air and seal the pin hole back up.
Now, take a pizza cutter and trim away all the excess fondant.
The cake is all ready for decorating. I wasn’t too concerned that the bottom wasn’t real nice because I was planning to put a border on to cover it up.
I wanted to stick with brown tones for my decorations so I took my remaining fondant and started kneading brown paste coloring in it to make it darker shades. Once I got the shade I wanted I tore a chunk off and continued darkening the rest of it to make the next darker shade. As I got to the darkest shades I also started mixing in cocoa powder with the fondant. This kept it from getting too sticky and it helped with the taste because the more paste color you add the more of a chance you have of getting an off taste to your fondant. You can always add cornstarch to your fondant, too, if it starts getting too sticky.
I also pulled off a chunk of pure white fondant to give a little contrast to the decorations.
When I had all the colors I wanted I took one ball at a time and rolled it out to an even thickness. This Wilton fondant rolling pin comes with guides to help you roll your fondant to an even thickness.
I then used circle cutters to cut out various sizes of circles.
Whenever you aren’t using your fondant be sure to keep it covered with plastic wrap or it will dry out on you. If it is starting to dry out, gently rub some shortening over it.
To apply the cutouts to the cake you will want to use something with a high alcohol content. Vodka or Everclear are my top choices. They also come in handy if you start getting really frustrated with the cake, you just start drinking more and more and then it starts looking better and better! Of course I am just kidding about that part.
Seriously, though, the reason you want to use alcohol is that is dampens the cutout so that it sticks to the cake but then the alcohol evaporates quickly so that it dries onto the cake and doesn’t make it sticky. You can also use lemon extract if you don’t want to purchase alcohol. I buy the cheapest vodka I can find then pour some into a little cup and use a clean paint brush to brush it on to my cutout. I gently adhere the cutout onto the cake.
If you want to make a ring, paint the vodka only on the very edges of the circle so that the center doesn’t stick. Attach the circle on to your cake then take a smaller cutter and cut out the center of the circle, being careful to feel when the cutter touches the cake. Then take a small knife or spatula and lift out the center piece. You can leave the ring empty or attach a smaller circle of another color in its center.
Once the cake was decorated how I wanted, I decided to add a ball border to continue with the bubbly feel. I placed the cake on the serving plate then took all my left over fondant and rolled it into small balls. I used my root beer icing and put dabs of it on the back of each ball to attach it to the cake.
There you have it, my final cake! Doesn’t it remind you of a bubbly, fizzy root beer float? The best part is that when you take a bite it tastes like one too.
Of course, a root beer float just isn’t a float without the ice cream.
There, now I can officially call this Root Beer Float Cake. Good luck making your own version of Root Beer Float Cake. Oh, and the best part is that you really don’t use that much root beer so there should be enough left over to make a root beer float to drink along with your cake.
Until next time, God Bless and Sweet Dreams.