Our naked mini Christmas Cake gifts have finally been dressed. No longer are they hiding away in the cupboard covered only with greaseproof paper and tin foil, they now sit proudly waiting to be shared with friends and family with their layers of marzipan and fondant icing and topped with a homemade fondant Christmas Cake decoration.
I would love to be able to shout out that these fondant Christmas characters are my own idea, but alas not. In fact this is the first time that I've attempted any sort of shapes without the use of a cutter or mould after watching a number of YouTube tutorials. Those who follow me on Instagram may have seen the snowmen which Mum and I made for the very first time a couple of weeks ago. We had such a laugh making these little sugary shapes! We all love Mum's pipe smoking snowman so much that he now has pride of place on the shelf in their front room!
There are some very talented people out there who share their hints, tips and knowledge on YouTube to help others gain an insight into how these shapes are created. In this post I shall share the link to the tutorial I used for each of the fondant Christmas Cake toppers I made, along with notes on where I may have modified the original design. But firstly, it may be useful to know the materials and equipment I used.
The materials and equipment.
Being new to using fondant for creating shapes and characters, the Only Crumbs Remain kitchen has very little in the way of tools and equipment for such activities. Happily though, there is very little which is needed to create fun and interesting characters. There are no doubt a host of other equipment and food stuffs which you
could use when modelling fondant icing, though these are the items
which I needed and found useful.
- White fondant.
- Coloured fondant. Dr Oekters coloured fondant, which we purchased from our local supermarket comes in a pack of 5 colours: red, black, yellow, blue and green. It negated the need to buy a host of different coloured gels which may prove expensive and not be used again. These coloured fondants are vegetarian and weighs a total of 500g which was more than enough to fashion our 6 chosen Christmas cake toppers (though of course if you chose to make numerous Father Christmas or penguins then it may be wise to buy a larger pack of red or black.) The fondants can be combined together to create additional colours, for instance yellow with a little red to create an orange for the snowman's nose, white with a little red to create a pink for the face and hands of Santa and the choir boy.
- Icing sugar.
- Sharp knife, non serrated.
- Cocktail Sticks. You'll be surprised how useful cocktail sticks are when creating characters from fondant icing. They're great for creating mouths, holes for small eyes, texturising hair and even picking up tiny pieces of fondant which may be being used for eyes.
- Fondant Modelling Tools. I purchased a set of plastic modelling tools cheaply, just a pound or two, from our local supermarket, though of course you could spend an awful lot more if you want. I used just one or two of the tools. They helped to prevent finger prints from spoiling the character when repositioning something or ensuring a shape had adhered properly.
- Rolling pin. Either use a specific fondant rolling pin which is super smooth to prevent marks being left on the fondant or a regular baking rolling pin.
- Small fluted biscuit cutter to create the ruffs on the choir boy's tunic.
- Small brush. Used specifically for food preparation.
- Boiled water. For 'gluing' parts. Clear alcohol can also be used if you prefer.
- Edible glitter. The professional modellers didn't use this in their tutorials though I found it nice to add a little shimmer to the finished characters and shapes.
The 6 Christmas Fondant Character Ideas:
As the following 6 Christmas fondant characters have been made without the use of wires or cocktail sticks to support the shape, they can be given as gifts without needing to remember to tell the recipient about the scaffolding beneath!
Meet Frosty the Snowman! Frosty was created after following the tutorial by Zoe's Fancy Cakes. The tutorial was easy to follow and helped those new to creating fondant characters, such as Mum and myself, feel confident in making an effective Christmas character. Zoe is a very talented lady, check out her fondant Gru character from Despicable Me, he's amazing!
Both Zoe's Fancy Cakes and myself dressed our respective snowmen in a matching green hat and scarf combo, though clearly you can use which ever colour you prefer or have available. If you're feeling a little more adventurous the scarf could be customised with a pattern, think stripey, polka dot or even tartan!
Our fondant snowman was fashioned with a scarf wrapped around the neck which provided a little more detail than the two pieces Zoe used. Frosty was then finished with a few fondant snowballs at his 'feet' and a sprinkling of edible glitter in a colour aptly called 'snowflake'.
There are many tutorials on YouTube showing how
to fashion a penguin from icing. Some are singular, like our penguin,
and others can be found in groups shaped to look as though they are
having fun and up to mischief!
Wanting to take things
slowly and be realistic at what I may be able to achieve as a newcomer
to fondant cake decorating I chose to follow this tutorial by The Cake Makery.
I found that I needed to re-ball the initial black 'skittle' shape a
few times until I was happy with the general shape and the position of
the penguin's wings. The Cake Makery cuts the wings with scissors but I
eventually found it easier to use a small sharp knife for this step.
After that slight stumble, the fondant penguin was easy to create and
looks fun with a snowball under his flipper whilst stood next to some
more. Mischief in action!
With his red coat and long beard, Father Christmas is recognisable the world over. Even Mr E recognised my fondant Father Christmas, even though he, Father Christmas not Mr E, had clearly been at the mince pies since September!
Our Father Christmas was created after watching the YouTube video by The Cake Makery. Again it was straightforward to follow and replicate, though my red fondant proved to be a lot softer than the modelling paste used in this tutorial, and resulted in a slightly stubby character - though he's still good fun and recognisable.
The Choir Boy.
You can really imagine him singing "Away in a Manager", or something similar, with his mouth open and holding a hymn book! The original tutorial, from The Cake Baker, created a group of three fondant choir boy characters but a single one was sufficient for our small cakes. The tutorial was relatively easy to follow and certainly helped those new to fondant shaping to recreate another traditional Christmas fondant character.
I needed to modify our fondant Choir Boy's hair. The tutorial painted the hair onto the shaped head but not having anything in a suitable colour I blended together some red, a little black and white fondant to create a brown which was then shaped and affixed to the head. A cocktail stick was used to texturise the fondant to resemble hair, a technique I picked up after making Santa!
The Holly & Berries.
Holly and its vibrant red berries
are often seen adorning Christmas bakes, whether it's made from pastry
and decorating mince pies or, as in this case, from fondant to finish off
a Christmas cake. These hand made fondant holly shapes are only
marginally more difficult to make than those shaped with a cutter or
plunger. Sadly I've been unable to relocate the actual tutorial, though if you should want to try this simply take a small piece of green fondant and shape it into a flat oval. With the fondant resting on your work station use the end of a fairly small plain round piping nozzle to remove semi circles of the fondant. Use the back of a knife or a fondant tool to provide a little detail to the leaf, and voila, with two or three small balls of red fondant you have some pretty fondant holly leaves!
This idea also came from Zoe's Fancy Cakes, and proved to be really effective and devilishly simple to make. It really is amazing what can be made from some plain white fondant icing shaped into small tear-drop shapes!
After dusting it in edible 'snowflake' glitter, the fondant snowflake cake decoration was really enhanced. I can imagine this idea looking great around the walls of a large Christmas Cake.
How are you planning to decorate your Christmas cakes this year?