As I sit here writing this, I’m watching the snow fall outside and hoping it’ll be enough for me to stay home tomorrow. Yes, I’m an adult, and no, I don’t have a terrible job, but I still feel that little thrill of excitement every time I get a Snow Day. Who doesn’t love getting a free day off? That wonderful feeling when you think you have to get up and go to work and then someone tells you, forget it, you’re staying home in your pj’s and eating snacks instead. I always have my fingers crossed for at least one per year. This year I haven’t had any. And it’s already March!
So I thought this pretty little snowstorm was the perfect time to finally sit down and write about my Snow Day cake. Probably one of the reasons my fondness for snow days hasn’t been slowly killed by the onset of adulthood is that I don’t usually have to shovel. Our driveway is very small, and whenever it is necessary to shovel, either my boyfriend takes care of it, or, if we wait long enough, the company that plows our street and clears the sidewalks will also snow blow the driveways (I know, I’m lucky). So how did I end up making a snow shovel cake? Well, when I mentioned to my boyfriend that I wanted to make a winter themed cake, he said it should have a snow day theme. Not opposed to the idea, I asked what that would include, and he said, “shoveling.” At first I just laughed, and kept trying to come up with ideas, but this image kept popping into my head of a shovel sticking out of a snow bank, on top of a cake. And thus an idea was born.
I started with the blade of the shovel (And yes, I just googled terminology for the parts of a shovel). First, I took a handful of fondant and colored it a bright red, which took forever, and also stained my hands pink because I didn’t have any latex gloves. Then I flattened the fondant out into a rectangle, about as long as I wanted the blade to be, and twice as wide. I knew I would be sculpting it, so I didn’t bother to roll it out flat, I just used my fingers to flatten it down as much as I could.
Next, I got myself a wooden skewer like you would use for making kabobs. I placed the skewer in the middle of one half of the rectangle of fondant, then folded the fondant over the skewer, keeping the skewer in the center, leaving a few inches of the pointed end of the skewer sticking out the bottom, so I would be able to stick it into the cake later. Using my fingers, I pushed down on the fondant to get it to stick together, then pushed the fondant in towards the skewer. I really had to work with the fondant here because it does not want to stick to the wood. I read something online about wetting the skewer slightly to get the fondant to stick. I didn’t find that I needed to go that far, but if you are having trouble, that is an option you can try. All this squeezing and pushing is going to misshape your shovel blade, so once you feel like your fondant is secure enough on the skewer, you’ll need to start reshaping your blade. I have a set of Wilton fondant tools and I mostly used the one with a ball at each end. Not sure if there’s a name for it or not, but I used the to create the grooves that you find in a shovel, and to smooth out other parts of the blade. I made the bottom edge of thinner than the top edge, then cut off any excess and used that to shape and build up the top edge and the section around the skewer, which would act as the shaft of the shovel. When I was finally happy with the shape of the blade, I bent it slightly up at the bottom edge, and left it to dry on a piece of foam with some rolls of paper towel under the bottom edge to keep it curved while it dried. I left it that way overnight. You might want to leave it longer than that, so the fondant will harden more, but as usual, I left everything to the last minute, so I was rushing.
The next morning, I started adding brown candy clay to the skewer to create the shaft of the shovel. I found the candy clay to be even trickier to attach to the wood of the skewer, but with time and a little patience, I was able to get it on there pretty well. I covered all the way from where the shaft meets the blade, up and over the top end of the skewer. Now, when it came to smoothing out the candy clay, I had to be very careful not to pull it back off the skewer. I tried rolling it between my palms, but that didn’t really work, so I used the fondant tool with the two balls again and ran it gently along the candy clay until it was as smooth as I could make it.
The last piece of the shovel is the handle. I rolled a piece of the red fondant between my palms to create a snake shape that was skinnier at the ends than it was in the middle, then I pulled the ends of the snake shape around and stuck them together, creating a handle shape. I left the handle off of the shovel until after it was on the cake, because I knew it would be a bit fragile where it attached to the shaft.
Now, on to the cake itself. I used a white mocha cake recipe from Cake Paper Party. And, you guys, this is the most deliciously flavored cake ever, hands down. So good. I baked it in three 6 inch tins. Then I filled and frosted it with a vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream, also from Cake Paper Party. And I sprinkled some of the cinnamon streusel from Liv for Cake’s Spice Cake recipe in between each layer for a little added texture.
Once my cake was assembled and I had frosted it smoothly, I took my trusty ice cream scoop and scooped some more of the buttercream on top. I did one scoop on one side and two scoops on the other, and used a small offset spatula to smooth the scoops out into two piles of “snow,” one bigger than the other, with a sort of valley down the middle. After shaping them, I took my bench scraper around the outside of the cake again, to smooth out any lumps I had inadvertently added to the top edge of the cake. At this point, I noticed that the two lumps looked a bit like uneven boobs, but I trusted in my vision, and kept working.
To create an even smoother surface, and a more snowy texture, I took a sieve and some powdered sugar and liberally sprinkled the surface of the cake, then used my fingers to pat the sugar down into the frosting a bit. I waited for about ten or fifteen minutes to see if the powdered sugar would be absorbed by the frosting at all (it wasn’t), then sprinkled another layer of powdered sugar, and left that layer untouched.
After I had my snow in place, I pushed the point of the skewer into the cake, positioning the shovel in between the two snow banks. I went in at a slight angle with the front of the shovel facing the smaller of the two banks. I very gently and carefully coaxed the shovel further down until the edge of the blade was buried a tiny bit in the frosting. I had to fix the candy clay at the top of the shaft a little, but I was then able to stick my shovel handle on to the candy clay to finish off my Snow Day cake.
This has got to be one of my favorite cakes so far, and the idea came about in such an odd way. I don’t know what occasion it would be perfect for, but who needs an occasion? I say just make this the next time you’re expecting snow.