I thought individual firecracker cakes would make the perfect subject for a patriotic holiday dessert. The reason I did not post this project before the 4th of July is because instead of using my usual stand-in prop(s), a Styrofoam dummy, I opted for the real deal and baked mini cakes which I decorated with fondant, gumpaste and icing. I thought my family would find them a bit moister and tastier than the dummy cakes I usually make (wink-wink). Also, I wanted my cakes to be fresh, so I chose not to make them ahead of time. So, I hope you keep these little cuties in mind for next year and that they go over with a bang when you serve them to your friends and loved ones on the Fourth.
Mini Firecracker Cake Tips
The hardest thing for me though was coming up with a way to create little cylinder-shaped cakes. I looked everywhere for some guidance on how to make individual cylinder cakes but to no avail. I then decided to just do a trial run and I am glad I did. I first tried using a sheet cake and then cut out small 2” circles with a cutter and stacked them. Not being a skilled cake froster (I’m not sure if this is the official term) though, I could not master applying a crumbcoat on such tiny, uncrusted (naked edges created left by the cutter) pieces. So, that was not going to work! I then found the solution to the problem when I finally ran across a tall cylinder silicone mold made by Silikomart. It can make as many as twelve small cakes that are 1.9” in diameter by 2” tall (which is the height after cutting them flush with the mold, which I recommend). Two inches alone was not proportionally tall enough for the firecracker, but by cutting one in half and stacking it on another full-size cake, it would now be 3” tall (without icing). So, by cutting four of the twelve mini cakes in half, I had eight pieces to cap the remaining eight cakes. The result is each 12-cake batch you make in the mold will ultimately yield you eight perfect firecrackers. Not to mention that thankfully, because they came out of a mold, I now had a crust to work with, which made decorating the cakes that much easier.
When using the silicone mold make sure you grease each cylinder well with Pam (or another cooking spray) and do not fill it past (about) 2/3 full or it will overflow. I know this because I filled it to ¾ full the first time and my firecrackers exploded prematurely (well not exactly exploded, just flowed over the edges like lava from a volcano). The good news is if this happens just carefully use a serrated knife to remove the excess cake (once cooled). Always allow them to cool completely in the pan before trying to remove them as well. Make sure to make level cuts when dividing the cylinders or the firecrackers will be off kilter and who wants a Leaning Tower of Pisa shaped firecracker?
My family is a huge fan of frosting, but like I said I am not a trained cake froster, so I ended up using a combination of frosting and then covering the cake with fondant. I have never been a fan of the taste of most commercial fondants, but I really needed a true red and navy blue colored fondant to decorate with. So, I opted to try Renshaw (which I have read nothing but rave reviews about) for my stars and stripes. I loved its taste and the vibrant coloring was so beautiful, but it has a rather soft texture, so it was a tad difficult to work with. That being said, I still determined it was well worth forgoing the potential attractiveness of my cakes for a superior tasting fondant.
Depending on the way you plan to decorate be sure to have a nice assortment of star cutters on hand ahead of time. I hope you agree that all of these different-sized stars really added to the festive look.
To create my nosecones I used a mixture of gumpaste and fondant.