I went to Homesense in search of bar stools the other day but instead of coming home with seating, I returned with a few extra baking supplies. My favourite find is these FoodWriter edible food colour markers from Wilton ($10).
Green, blue, red, black and yellow food colouring markers. Photo by Jennifer Melo
My piping technique sucks but I have plenty of practise with markers after years of colouring pages with my nieces. So food colouring markers are genius inventions for novice cookie decorators like me.
Food colouring marker tip is fine at the end for details and thick on the sides for shading. Photo by Jennifer Melo
Although these markers are of the bold tip variety, the tip’s not so bold that you can’t use it to draw some detail work. Here’s a shot of the packaging in case you want to find it in stores.
FoodWriter edible colour markers packaging. Photo by Jennifer Melo
I couldn’t wait to try using these markers and I had just the baking project coming up to put these bad boys to use. I soon discovered that cute Easter bunny cookies are adorable when I can draw, rather than pipe, a face.
Baptism cake. Photo by Jennifer Melo
The evening before my niece Aliya’s baptism, I turned up at my sister Suzy’s house to help her decorate the cake.
Quilting tip: Do the sides only
This was my first attempt at a quilting technique. After we got the fondant on the cake, I used a diamond-shaped cookie cutter and lightly pressed it into the fondant.
All was going well and then I quickly learned that it’s best to only quilt the sides of the cake — and not the top. The quilting pattern never aligns properly at the corners when you try to carry the pattern onto the top of the cake.
When you need to start again
I knew I royally screwed up the first cake when the pattern went awry and I couldn’t really fix it. So the cake you see above is actually a replacement cake.
I didn’t feel too bad about ruining the original cake because it was sort of droopy and needed a couple of extra layers for height, and my sister wasn’t all that happy with it anyway.
I offered to make a whole new cake so Suzy could relax a bit and focus on the rest of the party-planning particulars.
Cakes need time to settle
We decided on cream fondant, a square vanilla cake with two tiers and a lemon marmalade filling. The rest was left up to me.
I kept things simple with an oval name plaque, and small fondant flowers to hide a multitude of sins. I anticipated this cake-decorating project wouldn’t go perfectly. I find it difficult to cover square cakes with fondant because the fondant tends to pleat at the corners. Somehow, expecting trouble made me feel more prepared to deal with it. I was pretty relaxed about all the boo-boos.
The multitude of sins
My replacement cake didn’t have enough time to settle so after I covered it in fondant, the sides bulged in places — you can really see it on the top tier.
I probably should’ve kneaded the fondant more thoroughly and rolled it more thickly because it cracked and ripped in sections when I draped it over the cake, especially at the corners. That’s when fondant flowers come to the rescue. I used them to disguise the biggest cracks.
Using a cookie cutter, I cut a fondant cross for the top, then I used the quilting tool on it for texture and added a single silver dragee (sugar pearl or ball) in the center. I outlined the cross with white piping gel and piped a bead of white in the center of each flower.
Cake-decorating tip: Decorations cover mistakes
Here’s a closer shot of the top tier. Lots of flowers = lot of cracks under there.
Top tier of the baptism cake. Photo by Jennifer Melo
I used white glaze piping gel for the letters, and that was risky on a hot summer day but I didn’t have enough time to make another batch of buttercream. The white gel was store-bought and ready to use. Thankfully, it didn’t run or melt under the blazing sun and stayed in place.
The baptism went off without a hitch and the cake was a hit.