Alright. I'm finally getting around to the last post of projects from Maddie’s Princess Party; my latest adventure in cake decorating- a crown for a little princess!
I’m just gonna go ahead and get the apologizing out of the way.
I’m sorry that:
- I had to make the crown at night because I needed plenty of uninterrupted time. The lighting in the pictures is not so good. Okay, it’s bad.
-I had to use my sad little point and shoot, so there really was no hope for good quality images anyway.
-I slipped into “the zone” and totally forgot to take step by step pictures of covering the cake in fondant. Oops.
Okay, now that that’s done we can talk about my goals for sharing fondant and gumpaste projects.
Spoiler alert: It’s not that I think I am the best person to teach you how to decorate cakes. Far from it, friends. My cakes are a long way off from Pinterest-worthy status. I only hope to inspire you to attempt projects that maybe you previously thought were out of your scope. Consider me the poster chick for “If I can do it, so can you!”
Truthfully, I went back and forth about twenty times over whether or not to post this project. I am not happy with the end result. I rarely am when it comes to cake decorating. I always wish I could have done better. I can’t look at my cakes without picking them apart because they don’t look professional enough. And then my husband flatly reminds me that I am "not a professional cake decorator." Thanks, Hun.
While he is correct, I still struggle with feeling disappointed. Of all the craft mediums I work in, cake decorating is the one that actually feels like work. And the one I just can’t get right.
And yet, I keep going back for more. I guess I just want my family to have birthday cakes as unique as they are without spending a small fortune to make them happy. That, and I do not like to fail. (Yeah, it’s probably mostly the latter.)
Hopefully I haven't scared you off at this point. I don’t want you to think I don’t enjoy cake decorating. I do. I love, love, LOVE making a 3d scene out of something so delicious. I love challenging myself, and I love making something new and different every time I fill a piping bag. Who wants to look at the same cake every time they sing “Happy Birthday”?!
So let’s get to the good stuff.
Here are the materials I used:
And here are the tools I used:
I drew this crown template that you are welcome to download if you don’t feel like re-inventing the wheel.
I wanted to try a fondant technique I had never done before, so I decided on quilting (minus the jewels) for the top tier and flowing ruffles (like those on a dress) for the bottom tier.And I knew I wanted a simple crown because even the simplest gumpaste project is still time consuming.
Because I didn’t get pictures of the fondant making and placing, I’ll save those details for another tutorial.
Below, under The Short and Sweet are the condensed instructions. Father down, under All the Details are all the specifics and a sprinkling of tips to make your crown turn out better than mine.
Ready to put your cake decorator hat on? Might not hurt to grab a beverage, too. Just sayin’.
The Short and Sweet:
1. Mix a little bit of fondant into some gumpaste to avoid cracking.
2. Color the gumpaste a lemon yellow color with food coloring.
3. Roll out the gumpaste to about 3/8” thick.
4. Trace a crown shape and cut out with a gumpaste cutter.
5. Give it legs by pressing toothpicks under or on the bottom of it. (These will go into the cake.)
6. Color another bit of gumpaste (with a little bit of fondant) for jewels or other accents.
7. Attach to crown with a brush and a little water.
8. Let it dry (harden). Flip over and let the back do the same.
9. Go have a nice drink, you’ve earned it.
All the Details:
1. Prep the gumpaste.
This is pretty important because this is where color and texture are decided. And if either of those is off, it’s a real bummer.
Way back when I was taking a Wilton cake decorating class at my local craft store, the instructor told us to mix our gumpaste and fondant at a ratio of about 50-50 to keep the gumpaste from drying out. I have found that takes way too long for most toppers to harden, though. I like to use about 75% gumpaste and 25% fondant.
*Note: I use a homemade marshmallow fondant because it is cheaper and better tasting than store bought and I knew I was going to cover my cake with that. I have been told that store bought is a lot easier to work with, though. I would guess that you may need even less of the fondant if you are using store bought.
Coat your hands with shortening and mix the gumpaste and fondant together. (Periodically, you will need to reapply to keep the gumpaste from sticking so keep it handy.)
Now for the color!
Let’s start with the color of the crown. I used a ratio of about 3:1 Lemon Yellow to Peach. *Note: Keep in mind as the gumpaste sets in the bag the color will darken about a shade or two and as it dries (when you are finished sculpting) it will lighten again.
Mix until color is completely even and store in a Ziploc baggie.
*Tip: Be sure to get the air out of the bag or the gumpaste will start to dry out.
Now for the pink lettering. I used a bit of Deep Pink coloring.
And sealed it up.
Lastly I opted to mix Deep Pink and Sky Blue to get the shade of purple I wanted. Honestly, I am just not a fan of any premade Violet coloring. They are all dull and too blue. This combo comes out much more vibrant.
Done! All sealed up!
2. Make the crown.
Grab a small fondant roller, the crown template, and some of the yellow gumpaste. Prep your surface with shortening. Roll that that gumpaste into a nice, smooth ball.
Roll it out to around 1/8’’ thick. Lay the crown template on top. Trace with the small gumpaste rolling cutter tool.
Lift the template off.
Now we need to do a better job of cutting through the gumpaste. Prep your regular size gumpaste rolling cutter by dipping it in cornstarch.
Go around again making sure that you cut completely through the gumpaste. Try not to smoosh or slide the crown around because it will distort the shape and detract from the overall look.
Lift away the outer scrap pieces and clean up the lines with the small cutter tool again.
Gently lay hour hand over the crown as you flip the silicone mat over and gently peel back the mat. Again, try not to pull on the crown too much or it will distort the shape of the crown. If it is sticking try using the flat tool to separate it from the mat.
Gently pick up the crown and place it on the silicone mat. Grab the pointed tool and clean up the edges some more.
*Tip: The edges might start to dry out a little. Rub a little shortening on them if they do.
Time to make legs for the crown. (They go into the cake to keep the topper standing.) Dip a toothpick in water…
and place underneath the crown, close to the side.
Repeat for the other side and gently press down to secure.
Let’s make the crown sparkle! Dip a decorating brush into gold shimmer dust…
And stipple it onto the top and sides of the crown.
*Tip: In the pictures you can see that I added the gold shimmer dust while it was on the same piece of parchment paper it would later dry on, but that ended up making the edges of the crown look a little clumpy. I would recommend either:
a. Switching to a clean piece of parchment paper to dry, or
b. Leaving the crown on the silicone mat during the application of the shimmer dust and transferring it later to a piece of parchment paper to dry. If you go this route you'll just need to make sure to clean the mat before rolling out another color of gumpaste.
Ta-da! A gold crown, fit for a princess.
3. Make the lettering and jewels for the crown.
We’re in the home stretch.
Grab some of the pink gumpaste, the roller, and the stencil. Dust the silicone mat with cornstarch.
Sprinkle a liberal amount of cornstarch on top of the gumpaste.
Roll it out. The thickness here depends on the stencil. Ideally, you want it exactly the height of your stencil. Too thick and it squishes it, too thin and it rips when you have to pry it out. You may have to re-roll a couple of time until you get it right. That’s okay.
*Tip: Let the gumpaste sit for 5-10 minutes or so. If the gumpaste is too moist it's a PAIN to remove it from the stencil.
Place the stencil over the gumpaste and press down evenly and firmly.
Sometimes the gumpaste still won’t want to come out of the stencil on its own. Grab the small pointed tool and help it along if you need to. Just work slowly and carefully.
Clean up the edges if you need to. You may even need to rub a little shortening on the letter to condition it.
Lettering can become distorted easily so I like to let it sit a couple of minutes before moving and applying it to the crown.
While that’s setting up let’s roll out the jewels. Prep the silicone mat with cornstarch, grab a little purple gumpaste, the stencil, and roller.
I used the dot from the lowercase letter I to make the jewels.
I brushed a little water on the backside and placed them on the tips of the crown.
Then I grabbed that “2,” brushed a little water on the back of it,
and placed it on the crown, slightly off center. Ugh. So annoying. Between the water and the shimmer dust it set right away.
Lastly, I used the letter stencils to spell out my birthday girl’s name and placed them on apiece of parchment paper to dry.
Make sure to condition the gumpaste letters with a little shortening, especially on the sides. Cornstarch really dries out the gumpaste and it might look like elephant skin if you skip this step.
When the letters had fully dried I brushed a little water on them and applied them to the base of the crown.
I left the crown and letters out on the counter to dry overnight and added them to the cake right before the party.
This allowed the crown to fully harden and for the cake to be of a height that I could keep it (almost) fully covered to protect the fondant from drying out too much.
Well there ya have it. Everything you need to know to make yourself a simple princess crown cake topper.
If you make a crown of your own, or any other cake topper for that matter, please be a good food crafting buddy and post it to the Flickr group for inspiration!
Happy cake decorating, friends. And whatever you make, make it yours!
Want to see more cake decorating projects? Have a look at these: