I wanted to have a go at using dark chocolate ganache to crumb coat the cake instead of buttercream, so this seemed like the perfect excuse to have a go! The ganache was easy to make (2 parts dark chocolate, 1 part heavy double cream) and has the benefit of firming up at room temperature so you don’t have to refrigerate it like you do with buttercream. It is also really stable so makes a great base to apply the fondant to.
Smoothing the ganache on the bottom tier was much more straightforward. I used an upside down technique (learnt from Jessica Harris’s Craftsy class) and it turned out great! The sphere was more complicated though… I didn’t really know what to use to smooth the ganache as you kind of need something curved or flexible, and I didn’t have either! So as you can see from the photo it was definitely NOT a perfect job, but as I was covering it with two layers of fondant and Christmas puddings are not perfectly smooth, I thought I could probably get away with it!!
I also wanted to try making my own marshmallow fondant using the recipe from Jessicakes Blog. I was sooo pleased with how it turned out! SO much better than trying to use shop bought fondant like I did for my first cake. It was much more elastic and easier to work with, and tastes 100 times better than shop bought stuff! I will definitely keep using this recipe (it’s on the Jessicakes Blog website).
Another first was trying modelling chocolate for the holly leaves and berries. I used Wilton Candy melts mixed with light corn syrup. It was a little bit crumbly and fragile, so I had problems when I was trying to add a slight bend to the holly leaves and ended up having to remake a lot of them. I’m not really sure what went wrong, but think I’ll need to tweak the recipe to correct that in future.
I ran out of dark brown fondant so I left the bottom tier with ganache on it as it was the right colour already! Being in two tiers it meant we could start the bottom tear with my family on Christmas day and take the top tier to my husband’s family for Boxing Day which in its own right was a completed cake – very handy! 🙂