Posted by: Karen (Betty Bear) | March 11, 2012

in which fondant and spun sugar are attempted

Yesterday I said I had to make a carrot cake for the church birthday party which I did and then spent quite a lot of time attempting decorations for the thing. My plan was to make fondant carrots and then a spun sugar Easter basket for the little Cadbury eggs I bought so it would be an Easter-ish kind of cake. Let me back up and explain: my church celebrates everyone’s birthday all on the same day and people sign up to bake a cake for the month of their choice and/or their birthday month. Since my birthday is in April, I signed up for April. Easter falls in April this year so I thought an Easter cake would be good since we were supposed to make them kind of seasonal or appropriate in some way for the particular month.

So there I am with a carrot cake with nicely smoothed down icing. I made half again as much icing as the recipe call for to insure a smooth surface for my art. This morning, after fortifying myself with a large, strong cup of coffee I started on the fondant. It called for shortening, vanilla, salt, corn syrup and confectioner’s sugar. Lots of confectioner’s sugar. It makes a weird, modeling clay like substance which can absorb more confectioner’s sugar than you can possibly imagine. If you make it in a mixer, a dough hook is needed because it is too thick for a regular beater. After it is made, then food coloring gets kneaded in. Here is a blob of fondant with two drops of green food coloring waiting to be kneaded in surrounded by the snow of sugar I kept having to dust it with. Maybe I should have worn gloves? Fortunately it washed off easily. I found when making orange fondant that 1 drop of red food coloring to about 7 or 8 yellow seemed to be the correct proportions. Now that I achieved colored blobs, I tried rolling them out. Much more confectioner’s sugar was needed. Much more. And even then, the shapes I tried to cut didn’t really hold. I cut the carrot shapes and kind of fiddled with them so that they were vaguely carrot-like. The green tops ended up just being squished together triangle-y sort of shapes. I laid them out on a piece of parchment paper on a small baking sheet and stuck them in the freezer to harden up before trying the transfer to the cake. They don’t look exactly realistic, but they were kind of cute anyway. The frosting was really whiter than it looks in the photo, more the creamy white of cream cheese than the tan that it looks like here. After all that I went and rested myself for a while.

I read through several recipes of spun sugar and watched a couple of video clips on how to make it on line. It didn’t really seem that hard. One heavy saucepan, sugar, a little water, a little corn syrup, lots of heat and a candy thermometer. I oiled one small bowl that had the shape I wanted for a basket and laid out an oiled sheet of parchment paper underneath. The sugar gets heated to 310 degrees F which makes it look like boiling lava. ALL of the recipes warned of severe burns from touching the stuff so I was very careful with it. My first attempt made fairly good strings, but the sugar adhered to the bowl with the tenacity of super glue and only chipped off into little shards. For my second attempt, I covered the bowl with a piece of well-oiled parchment paper. This worked a little better but not great. I ended up with a very, very shallow dish of spun sugar which I carefully filled with little Cadbury eggs and placed on top of the cake.

I don’t think I will be doing all that work ever again to decorate a cake. If I do fondant again, I think I will just buy the damn stuff and spun sugar is just too hard. I was talking to a friend of mine who went to culinary school and he said after trying it about 20 or 30 times it gets so you can do it. Hah. I’m leaving that one up to the people for whom it is a career.

P.S. It did taste good!


  1. Thanks for the photos. It does look gorgeous and delicious. You have more patience than I have. But then again, I rarely bake so making a cake from a box is big time. : )

    • Every once in a while I get a wild hair about cooking something. It will be a l o o o n n n g g g time before I try it again.

  2. LOL! You did great! And thank you so much for the photos. It’s beautful, just truly beautiful. (I love that you included how you needed to rest.)

    I made Dan come over and read this post, it was too good not to share.

    Robena, I’m even worse. Box mixes are beyond me.

    • Thank you!!! 😀 You have other talents, ones that I most surely don’t have!

  3. See this is one fun thing about reading. It was really good to hear about your experience cause I’m never gonna do this but by reading it I can live vicariously through you.
    It looks pretty and yummy.

    • Vicarious living is a good thing! Many, many things I have done vicariously that I would never or will never do in RL.

  4. Holy cannoli! I’m a good baker but I wouldn’t even attempt to make fondants or spun sugar. I’m impressed. Your cake is adorable!

  5. THe carrots are VERY CUTE! Meanwhile that blob of fondant with two drops of green? Looks like a maimed bunny. Disturbing. Not as disturbing as you having to squish it..but still. 🙂

    • What does that say about you that you are the only one to have seen a maimed bunny in there? I think that class you have is warping your mind!! 🙂

  6. Wow! I’m beyond impressed! I bake, but I don’t decorate beyond simple icing. It’s beeyootiful!!

  7. It’s lovely. I usually icing my cakes still in the pan and we scoop out chunks with a spatula. We’re classy in my house.

    • I left out all the parts about eating batter and frosting. Because I’m trying to maintain that illusion of classy.

  8. Wowwwee! You are far more ambitious than I am. Beautiful job!

  9. “he said after trying it about 20 or 30 times it gets so you can do it” lol 🙂 cracked me up. I love to bake, but neither MadMax nor Dean will eat it (unless it’s pie), so I rarely do it anymore because I can’t afford the calories. But I’ve never had the patience for decorating. that is AMAZING, and it looks AWESOME. I’ve seen carrot cakes at the bakers that had uglier carrots than that.

  10. It looks delightful! And your church has a great idea there. 😀

  11. […] in which fondant and spun sugar are attempted ( […]

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