Sweet Sixteen is a big birthday, but I was not buying a car. No way! My son did say he wanted a guitar, so I got him one - all covered in icing and - (egads!) - FONDANT!
I said I would never use fondant. It tastes HORRIBLE! But this is no ordinary fondant. It is marshmallow fondant make in my own kitchen and flavored with almond. I found the recipe online at What's Cooking America and tried a small batch. Then I tried another small batch. Then I said "the heck with it" and used the rest of the marshmallows up!
Now, there are some guidelines to using fondant. Let me tell you that you should follow those guidelines. I can't tell you how many times I had to peel (scrape) fondant off my rolling mat only to start over. I noticed that as long as I was working with the fondant and didn't let it sit, it stayed moist and did not dry out. I did not use as much Crisco as was suggested. Only when I was actually mixing the marshmallows and sugar together did I add some Crisco to my spatula and my hands. Once the fondant formed a ball, I coated my hands and my work surface with cornstarch (powdered sugar did NOT work) and kneaded the ball.
To make this cake, I first had to create the template. I traced a guitar. It took 4 sheets of 8x11 paper. I scanned the tracings, put them together and shrunk the base of the guitar to fit on one 8x11 sheet of paper. (There was no way I was going to make a life-sized guitar for only 15 people!) The template was in 3 parts - the body, the neck and the head (where the tuning keys are).
I baked and cooled a regular box cake as normal in a 9 x 13" pan (I use this Air Bake pan).
I placed my template pieces over the cake. I did have to put it together like a puzzle in some places (the cake wasn't wide enough to accommodate the guitar horns so I had to cut those out separately).
Once the cake pieces were together and arranged on my board, I used a piece of regular clean floss to cut the cake in half. It cuts much more cleanly than a serrated knife. I lifted the top layer off (carefully!) and iced the entire middle with store bought chocolate icing.
After replacing the top layers, I iced the top and sides with store bought vanilla icing to seal in the crumbs and level out the cake surface.
This is where the new stuff starts -- the marshmallow fondant. I had already made plenty of fondant. I flavored it with almond flavoring (use in place of the water in the marshmallow fondant recipe). I formed the knobs and tuning keys and other parts of the cake. Some of them were "painted" with Pearl Dust (edible metallic decorating powder) mixed with flavoring and set aside to dry.
I rolled out a large sheet of marshmallow fondant (and after several tries, actually got the sheet to come off the rolling mat without sticking) and placed it over the base of the cake.
The fondant started to mold itself to the cake. I smoothed down the top and gradually started to work my way down the sides doing small sections at a time. The only place that needed some difficult adjusting was the concave areas around the guitar horns. Once the fondant was pressed to the cake, I used my small spatula to trim off the excess fondant.
I repeated the steps for the second sheet of fondant that was used to cover the neck and head of the guitar cake then I tucked the bottom edge of the fondant underneath the cake to create a smooth bottom.
I chose not to color the fondant because after my experiences with red and black colored icing (ladybug cake and grill cake) and the steps I took to make sure the marshmallow fondant TASTED good, I didn't want to ruin it by mixing in a huge amount of horrible tasting food coloring. I decided I would "paint" the color onto the guitar. I had no idea how this would work or what my own results would be. I saw a picture of a guitar cake online where the creator had mixed food coloring and water and painted the guitar to have a wood grain look. I also watched Ace Of Cakes create a guitar cake and they airbrushed the black onto the cake. That was do-able since there are now spray cans of cake coloring on the market at craft stores, but I thought that might be too messy (and just one more thing I'd have to buy).
I mixed some red food coloring gel with some vanilla extract , grabbed a brush and started painting. Note: keep the strokes going in the same direction. I only brushed on the red the first night and let it dry overnight. I put a second coat of red on the next day and it really made the red a lot brighter! The black went on a bit thicker so it didn't need a second coat.
Once the cake was painted, I added the frets, rolled out a sheet of fondant and cut it out for the guitar face, and placed everything that belonged below the strings. The silver balls you see are silver dragees. They can be hard to find but many grocery stores and places that offer cake decorating supplies still carry them.
For the strings, I used silver embroidery floss (silver colored thread would work just as well). I had intended to use beading wire but that just was NOT going to work. I couldn't get it to straighten out and it moved around so much while I worked with it that I thought it may gouge out part of the cake.
I tied ends of the embroidery floss to toothpicks I had cut in half and pressed the toothpicks into the cake. I made the strings a bit longer than I needed so I was able to tighten them once they were in the cake by twisting the toothpicks. Once the strings were in place, I placed a dab of icing on the end of each to act as glue. I had fondant pieces that went over the ends of each string so the toothpicks were not showing.
The rest of the cake went together smoothly and quickly. I glued down the knobs and other pieces with icing and used toothpicks to insert tuning keys and such. It was a great looking cake!
Final Notes: Only one person did not like the fondant. Others kept pulling pieces off the cake to eat like candy. I iced the middle of the cake because I was worried the fondant wouldn't lend enough "moistness" to the cake like icing does (and my group is a bunch of icing fanatics).
I rolled the marshmallow fondant about 1/8 inch thick. It did really well and kept its shape. I think I used a bit too much cornstarch when I was rolling it out because you could see some "dry" areas of the fondant as I painted it. The color REALLY brought out the flaws. Maybe there was too much cornstarch because I had to keep re-rolling the fondant. Experts say to keep turning your fondant as you roll it so it won't stick. Listen to them. They are right.