Playing with your food: making a fondant cake with kids

by Carly We love winter and the Little Man is no exception.  He'd play outside all day everyday if we'd let him and I'm thrilled he enjoys the out-of-doors as much as we do.

But even us winter-lovers have days where the thought of getting dressed to roll around in the snow is just too much.  We were having one of those weekends and after exhausting every episode of Handy Manny and The Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Family on Demand, it was time for a new game plan for our Saturday.

Earlier in the week Jake was upset about being told that he couldn't help me with the snowflake-themed cake I was making for a bridal shower.  He loves playdough and when he saw me rolling out all that fondant he just really wanted in on the action.

We had a chocolate cake mix kicking around and some leftover fondant so while Jake was watching all those Handy Manny episodes, I made the cake and coloured the fondant.  Then we went to town.

Jake had a blast rolling, cutting and "painting" the fondant.  He was thrilled to invite Nana and Papa for supper and beamed when he passed around pieces of his cake for dessert that night.

Want to do it yourself?  Here's how . . .

Make some fondant from scratch or do what I did this time around and pick up a box of pre-made white fondant from Michael's, Bulk Barn or your favourite cake supply store.  I used a 24 oz. package for the cake you see here.

Make your favourite cake, cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove it and put in the fridge so it'll cool that much faster.

While it's baking and cooling, pull off small balls of fondant from the larger piece and tint it different colours.  I used paste colouring, but for small amounts like this, you can use liquid food colouring because you don't need a lot.  Each coloured ball that I made was about 1.5 inches in diameter.  If the balls get a bit sticky, add icing sugar (not flour!) to them as you knead in the colour.  Keep your fondant in plastic wrap or a sealed baggie so it doesn't dry out when you're not using it.

Because we made a chocolate cake, I tinted the rest of the fondant brown, but you can leave it white or make it any colour you want.

When the cake is cool ice it with your favourite kind.  Buttercream, cream cheese, canned . . . it all works.

Roll out the largest ball of fondant to about 1/8" thick.  Use icing sugar (not flour!) to keep it from sticking to the counter or your rolling pin.  If it gets a little dry, you can use vegetable oil or PAM to keep it from sticking or drying out.  Place it over your cake, smooth it out and trim the excess.

(You can completely skip the step above and just lay your cut out fondant directly on whatever icing you chose, if you'd rather!)

Get out everyone's  favourite cookie cutters, pull out the coloured balls and start playing.  The cut-out fondant will stick to the cake if you "paint" the back with water.  If there's too much icing sugar on the front of the pieces, "paint" the fronts too after you put them on the cake.  If you have clear vanilla, almond or lemon extract, you can paint the fronts with that instead for even yummier fondant.

I have letter-shaped cookie cutters, so I made our play time into a teachable moment by sounding out and spelling the names of our family members.

I just let Jake create whatever he wanted, regardless of how the cake looked.  In the end there so much fondant on the cake, we couldn't possibly eat it all.  I don't even like fondant that much.  But that's the beauty of fondant - you can just peel off what you don't want and eat the cake and icing underneath.  Mmm!

Carly has red hair and occasionally the temper to match.  She loves potatoes, rainy nights, photography, her husband and her 4 year old son, Jacob.  Probably in reverse order.   She also blogs.