Fondant Festivities

The title might be a little misleading.  The only fondant on this cake is the 4 candles and their "flames."  But I couldn't really come up with a better title since I used "Happy Liturgical New Year" for last year's Advent cake.
And, if you're a long-time blog reader, you might remember something else from that cake which I made one year ago:  I had some crazy cake ideas.
A year ago, I didn't really think what I would be doing in 2008.  I was a bit too preoccupied with 2007, although the promise of my last year in high school did excite me.  But I'm talking about cake.  Last year, when I said that I wanted poinsettias and fondant candles, I didn't think that a year later, I would make the perfect cake.  I just thought, oh well, this cake is nice.  And if you're not a long time blog reader, then I'll show you what I mean:

Yeah, I know.  It's a far cry from what I made this year.  Wow, when you look back like that, you discover how much of an amazing difference a year really makes.  Okay, I'm done reminicing.  It's time to talk about the Cake of the Moment...

This cake has got to be the best one I've made.  (I say that a lot don't I?  About the purple cake, and the Patrick cake, and the penguin castle cake...  But I mean it this time!)  First of all, the cake mix was great.  Such a deliciously moist chocolate cake!  And then, the oven cooperated.  It had some help, of course.  Halfway through the baking process, I turned the cake pans around so that it would cook evenly on both sides.  And it helps that I have the nifty new cake pans, too.
The icing was very nice to me.  I actually posted a recipe over here, if you want it.  The green wasn't quite as friendly as the white, but much less of a grouch than the red.  I need to get some dark green icing paste (kelly green? moss green?).  The red, I have to admit, came from a Betty Crocker tube.  I was lazy, and I had a coupon, so I bought some red icing.  That came back to bite me, though.  The red icing bled some because of the cake's high moisture content.  I suppose I should have let the icing crust over a bit before putting the cover over it.

The bleeding cake really would have been a problem, because I didn't take the final pictures until the day after I made the cake, when I finally added the candles.  Thankfully, the bleeding was only on that side of the cake, so I just turned the cake around for the photo shoot. :-)

Speaking of fondant, I have a word or two to say about that.  I don't know how Duff does it.  When I watch Ace of Cakes (I kind of had a tivo maraton of the show on Sunday, before eating the cake), I watch with amazement as the artists deftly put smooth fondant all over the cake.  My fondant is never that smooth, which I just can't understand.  Maybe it's because (this time at least) I used some old gumpaste mixed with the fondant in order for the candles to dry and stand up straight.  (I made the cake and the candles on Saturday and served the cake on Sunday.)  I'm really not sure what the problem is, but it's frusterating.

Finally, the cupcakes:
 Yes!  I finally got to make my poinsettias!  They were a little droopy, and before I added the leaves and center dots, my mom thought they were octopi, but for my first time, I think I did really well.  Some of the cupcakes are also holly leaves, because I was running out of red.  Actually, they aren't really holly, because they don't look like the traditional holly leaves.  I just took the leaf tip (I can't remember what it's called, but it looks like a bird's beak) and squeezed out a bunch.  That's basically how I did all the leaves on the cake/cupcakes.
Wow.  I was really talkative today.  Sorry about that, but I guess I was just excited about finally making this dream cake. :-)  I'll stop raving and tooting my own horn about how wonderful this cake was.  I'm looking forward to whatever is next in my baking future, though!