Making fringe seems to have become a weekly necessity in my house. Fringe can come in a lot of different forms, but this version of a colorful fondant fringe birthday cake may be my favorite form yet! It is festive, bright, and a great way to add celebratory whim – no matter the occasion.
To make this fringe birthday cake you will need the ingredients for your favorite cake recipe and buttercream frosting made with the following: 1 stick of butter at room temperature, 1/4 cup whole milk, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, and 3 cups powdered sugar.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (alternately, in a large bowl using a handheld mixer), cream the butter on medium speed; 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add 1-1/2 cups of powdered sugar, the milk, vanilla, and mix on low speed until smooth and creamy; 2 to 3 minutes. Gradually add the remaining 1-1/2 cups powdered sugar, mixing on low speed, until the frosting reaches the desired light and fluffy consistency; about 3 to 5 minutes.
Bake and frost the birthday cake: Bake 2 layers of cake following directions on a box mix, or use your own recipe. We baked two 6-inch diameter cakes with a stacked height of about 3 inches tall.
Level cakes by trimming off domes. Place one cake layer on a plate or stand and ice a thin layer of buttercream on top. Set the second cake layer on top of the first, with the bottom facing up (the smoothest side works best). Apply a crumb coat to the cake, then let chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
Cover the birthday cake with fondant: Cut about half of the fondant block. Place the rest of the fondant in a ziploc bag until ready to use again. Sprinkle powdered sugar on a flat surface or board. Begin kneading the fondant to a workable consistency. Roll out the piece of fondant with a rolling pin, to about 1/4″ thickness, lifting and turning as you go. Dust surface with more powdered sugar if necessary to prevent fondant from sticking.
Carefully lift the fondant with both hands and place it above the cake, eyeballing where it’ll be evenly positioned on the cake. Cover the cake with the fondant. With your hands, lightly smooth outward on the top and down the sides of the cake, shaping the fondant to the cake. Trim excess fondant from the base of the cake.
Make and assemble fringe: To make the fringe you will need, 1.5 lb package of pure white rolled fondant (Wilton), food coloring, various colors, powdered, or confectioner’s, sugar (for dusting), a rolling pin, ruler, pastry brush or paintbrush, sharp knife, toothpicks, and water.
Cut a small block from the leftover fondant; about a 2″ x 2″ block is enough for one colored strip. Tint the fondant the color you want the bottom fringe to be. Use a toothpick to apply the color. Mix the color in by kneading until the fondant is uniformly colored. Add more drops if you want to go darker.
Sprinkle powdered sugar on your rolling surface. Take your block and roll it into a cylinder, then flatten it out with your palm. Roll it out into a long piece, about 13 or 14″ long and ” across. Measure out your first strip. Take a ruler and place it on top of the fondant; using the ruler as a guide, cut a strip of fondant that is 12″ long and 1″ across (basically the shape of a standard 12-inch ruler). Take a knife and make half slices in evenly spaced intervals (or not!) down one side of the strip.
Lightly brush a tiny bit of water onto the back of the strip and place it around the cake, fringe side down. Smooth as you go and press lightly so that the strip adheres to the cake. Allow the bottom of the fringe to touch the plate or go slightly lower than the base of the cake. Cut another strip of the same color and attach one end to the end of the first strip you put on the cake. Dab a little water on your fingertip and seal the seam between the strips. Note: you won’t need the entire 2nd strip, just enough to completely encircle the cake. Remove excess fondant and toss.
Repeat these steps for making other colored strips of fringe. Again, cut about a 2×2 block of fondant for each color. Assemble the fringes: layer a strip so that it overlaps the one directly below it about halfway down. Work your way up until you reach the top of the cake. For a cake that is 6 in. wide and 3 in. tall, you can fit about 5 strips of fringe.
Adjust and straighten the fringe layers to your liking. Use your thumb and forefinger to gently curl the fringes for a more dynamic effect. It is important to work quickly with fondant as it dries out. Keep unused or leftover fondant in an air-tight container or Ziploc bag.