Last year, when it came time to celebrate our Childs first full trip around the sun, my wife and I decided to start a new tradition in our home. Each year whenever our children’s birthdays come around (one day we’ll have more than just the one) we would make their birthday cake ourselves. As they grow older we hope to include our children in this tradition, helping make the day special for those who aren’t celebrating as they help to create a beautiful memory for their sibling. In the long term, the goal will be for one parent to distract the birthday child, while the other parent helps create a special birthday cake with their siblings. For the moment we just make the cake while our kid sleeps, but it’s nice to know we have a plan.
I’m sure one day we’ll buy a cake for someones birthday, but I absolutely love baking at home and so does my wife. What we really want to instill in our kids is the joy that comes from making something by hand and being given something hand made. That sometimes rough edges make a better story, and there is real value in knowing how to make something delicious for yourself and others.
For last year’s cake, my wife created an absolutely beautiful homage to Cookie Monster, with bright blue butter cream, goggly eyes, and mini cookies for decoration. This year, for their second birthday, I wanted to try my hand at something new and adventurous, marshmallow fondant.
The Great British Baking Show has been a mainstay in our home for quite some time, and even though I’ve always admired fondant work I’ve never gotten up the courage to attempt it myself. As a young cook I was blessed to learn from one of the best pastry chefs on the East Coast. I was employed as a line-cook in a high end restaurant in DC and the Husband and Wife Chef team handled both the savory and pastry sides of business. During my time their, I would often spend extra minutes trying to glean as much info as I could from the pastry sous chefs and assistants. As time went on, the pastry chef would show me things and eventually let me work occasionally as a pastry assistant in the commissary kitchen that created desserts for the entire restaurant group. So while I’m not a newb at baking/pastry, I had never heard of marshmallow fondant until watching The Great British Baking Show.
Once I understood the process however, I was struck by how simple and utilitarian a marshmallow fondant could be. First of all it is incredibly inexpensive to make, and furthermore, it actually tastes better IMO than traditional store bought fondant. While cake decorating never really interested me as a younger cook, my desire to create an amazing birthday cake for my kid had me ready to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
Even though it was my first attempt at fondant work, and it was filled with missteps and valuable learning moments, it was still a lot of fun. I would recommend this process to anyone who is interested in expanding their cake skills, and is willing to waste a bag of marshmallows to see what fondant is actually like.
One important note before diving into this recipe. This method calls for the use of a counter top stand mixer to help create the fondant. If you don’t have one available to you, make sure to google “marshmallow fondant by hand” before attempting this recipe. Making fondant by hand can be frustrating and it is best to give the process an overview before diving in and making a gigantic mess.