Fondant On, Fondant Off

I made a cake for a fundraiser for SunDragon Martial Arts studio where my daughter takes karate lessons. It’s a wonderful dojo in south Austin with a self-defense focus and a very female-positive attitude. I highly recommend it and was honoured to make them a cake!

I made six batches total of this Beat and Bake Orange Cake, but with an extra 1/4 cup of milk added to each. I still think it ended up a little too dry, but the flavour was good. I also added significantly more zest than called for, plus a few drops of orange oil. I also used my standard buttercream recipe (based on Carol Deacon’s recipe from her books) with zest added, since the recipe that comes with this cake is far too sweet for my tastes.

The fondant used was Satin Ice since I had some leftover from the kid’s table at the Austin cake show. Thank you to Satin Ice for donating it to the show: it went to yet another good non-profit cause!

The cake was designed in five layers because Seido karate has five belt colours and five words in their code of ethics. Of course I was halfway finished the cake when I realized it’s five colours plus beginner white! So I suddenly had to adapt my design and put the black belt on top. I mean…I meant to do that. Yes.

I covered the bottom in black (or rather purple with Americolor Super Black added since I didn’t have any black on hand), then the second up in red, then orange, and then the top two in yellow. I then airbrushed them all to give them a gradient look to match the dojo’s sun-style logos.

Full karate cake - facing belt knots

This is all Satin Ice except the red on the bottom, which is my homemade recipe, rolled with a texture pin and lightly airbrushed and then wiped for a recessive-wash effect.

Next I rolled out belts and wrapped them around, including faux knots. I deliberately made the white belt knot untidy because it seems that new students never can get their belts right. For the others, I tied my daughter’s belt around a chair properly so I could examine the knot. Always look to reality if you can when trying to replicate it!

Then I made the figure, building her directly onto the black belt on top, which is unusual for me. Usually I make them separately but I was worried about getting the legs and feet right if I did her on a hard surface. I rolled her legs separately and joined them at the hips rather than my usual method because I wanted them to look like loose, round pants more than usual, and I knew her jacket would cover any seam at the torso. I formed her chest using a foil ball and toothpicks going up for the head and down to anchor the body. I also used a body mold instead of my usual human figure printout because I wanted to match the size to the face on that mold. I’d only used the mold for gummy before (more on that coming soon) and wanted to try it with fondant. It stuck too much for actually molding the limbs, but it worked okay for the face. However, I used sculpting tools to soften the face and adjust the expression.

Partially made karate figure

I wasn’t worried about the figure being perfect at this layer other than the face and pants, because I knew I’d be putting a jacket over her. What was important was to ensure any curves I wanted to show through the jacket be pronounced at this point since a fondant overlay can mask subtle curves.

I rolled out very thin bits of fondant for the jacket in pieces more or less matching my daughter’s, based on where the seams were. Then I hid the torn part with a belt, used a pounce wheel to mark some seam lines, added arms, feet, hair, and painted-on details. The insignia are loosely based on my daughter’s jacket, but changed slightly for being teeny tiny. The hair was deliberately done in messy chunks with added tendrils to look like she’s just had a workout. I didn’t intend originally for her to come out with such a butt-kicking expression, but there you have it! The dojo’s motto is “I Fight Like a Girl” so it’s apropos.

Figure - front

Figure - front right

Figure - back right

Figure - back left

Figure - left

Figure - Front Left

Once the figure was done, I rolled out some yellow fondant, sprayed it quickly with my dwindling supply of Wilton Color Mist in red (I’m letting the stuff run out now that I have an airbrush which is far superior…I’ve been meaning to do a review of the Color Mist for some time which boils down to meh: it works in a pinch but smells awful and leaves a chemical taste on cookies), and then used the small Wilton alphabet cutters to cut out the letters for the five words in the Seido karate code of ethics. I would have preferred to arrange them with the smallest at the top going down to the largest on the bottom, but I let my daughter choose the order.

Full cake - words side

To center words, write it out on a piece of paper, find the center point, put the central letter(s) on your cake first and then work out to the sides. Just be sure to read it when you’re done to ensure you haven’t messed up the spelling. In fact, do that for everything written on a cake ever.

Lastly, I printed out two copies of the dojo’s logo to the size I wanted, cut out the red pieces from one copy and the yellow from another, and trace-cut those out of thinly rolled fondant. I had pre-determined where I wanted pieces to fit or to bend so it was easy-peasy to fashion them and fix them in place. Then I cut out the letters for the dojo’s name and voila, done!

Full cake - Sun Dragon logo

It helps when someone gives you a cool logo to work with in the first place!

The cake was served at a fundraiser party, and surrounded by small children the entire time who couldn’t keep their eyes off and some could barely keep their hands off as well. Once it was cut, I let some of them poke at the chunks of fondant that were no longer needed.

cake being served

Me and my daughter on the left, as I pretend to not notice that the boy in blue keeps sneaking pieces of the belts. I let unsupervised children eat fondant and might start handing out espressos and puppies one of these days…

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1 Response to Fondant On, Fondant Off

  1. Kathi Thomas says:

    This is incredible! I'm an event planner and see lots and lots of cakes- grooms' cakes are often theme cakes like this, but this is one of the finest I've ever seen.

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