For some reason, seeing Amanda's Bubbly Baby Cupcakes over at iambaker made me think not of babies, but of sheep. Maybe it's an untapped part of my subconscious that misses the countryside (definitely not a conscious part - I may have been brought up in the middle of nowhere but I'm a city girl at heart) and Dartmoor, or maybe it's just the uncanny resemblance of those buttercream bubbles to cartoonish sheep's wool. Whatever the reason, I've had a load of fondant left over ever since I made the Portal Companion Cube Cake back in May last year, so this was a perfect excuse to use it up.
Fondant icing is surprisingly easy to use - all you need to do is shape it as required and use water to glue any pieces together. If you don't believe me, the cake mentioned above was my first time using fondant icing, and the fondant flamingos on my Piña Colada Cupcakes were made the second time. White fondant icing also acts as a brilliant base for painting with gel food colouring or food colouring powder mixed with vodka, as perfected by my sister. The possibilities are endless! My only qualm with it is that I don't like it, so normally I try and incorporate the icing into a cake or add it to some buttercream, which I do like.
One thing to note is that fondant icing does not do well in airtight conditions, and appears to melt. If you leave it in a well ventilated area, however, your fondant icing can last for weeks (though I wouldn't recommend waiting that long to eat it!)
I put these sheep on top of chocolate cupcakes covered in green buttercream, so if you bite into the cake it's like taking a cross-section of the ground the sheep is walking on. For a more realistic effect, you could even put gummy worms in the 'soil', though I feel that might detract from the sheep slightly.
- 350g Butter
- 150g Plain Flour
- 200g Caster Sugar
- 2 Tsp Baking Powder
- 50g Cocoa Powder
- 3 Eggs
- 450g Icing Sugar
- 1.5kg White Fondant Icing
- Green Gel Food Colouring
- Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan and line cupcake tin with cases.
- Cream the sugar and 200g of the butter together until light and fluffy, then beat in the eggs one at a time to form a smooth batter.
- Sieve the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into the mixing bowl and fold it into the batter until well combined.
- Divide the batter between the cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 22 mins, or until a skewer comes out clean.
- Meanwhile, make the buttercream by beating the remaining butter into the icing sugar until soft. Mix in a few drops of the gel food colouring until you reach a satisfactory shade of 'grass green'.
- Pinch off chunks of the white fondant icing and roll it into twelve head shapes, then do the same to make 48 legs, 12 bodies and 24 ears.
- Dab the ears with a little water and stick them to the heads.
|Making The Sheep|
- Make lots of balls of icing, ranging from tiny to medium in size.
- Use small amounts of water to glue the heads to the bodies and prop them up so that they set in the correct position.
- Glue the legs and balls of icing onto the sheep using small dabs of the water, holding them in place for about 30 seconds each to ensure they stick well.
- Once the cupcakes have cooled, pipe or spread the buttercream on top and place the sheep on top of it. You may find it easier to finish assembling the sheep once they are on the cakes.
- If you want, you can use a toothpick to paint a small amount of black gel colouring onto the sheep faces to give them eyes.