Meet #smartgirl Johanna. Affectionately known around the OFS Smart Repair office as the ‘Queen of the Jacket’, she is one chic and stylish lady. A proper perfectionist, Johanna has been a true stalwart in our creditors department for many years. But as of 2010 she has garnered another formidable reputation – that of a master artisan cake baker. A woman of many talents and the creator of the custom OFS Smart Repair Birthday Cake featured earlier this year on Hello Smart Blog, Johanna is The Fondant Artisan.
Tell us your story…how did your fondant journey start?
When we moved from Port Elizabeth to Bloemfontein in 1991, I did not know a soul in town. Being a bit of an introvert I knew I was going to make a real effort to meet new people. I volunteered at our church and spent many afternoons reading to the elderly at our local old age home.
One day one of my favourite Grannies at the old age home was planning a birthday party. Joining in the celebrations, I decided to bake her a beautiful Birthday cake topped with fondant pearls and flowers – it certainly wasn’t a master piece, but it sure got a lot of attention! Upon seeing her auntie’s birthday cake, her niece ordered a birthday cake for her own daughter.
For the first couple of years I used to bake the cakes as favours to friends and family, but in 2010 the orders absolutely boomed and I realised to keep up with demand (and costs!) I had to start charging for the cakes. The rest, as they say, is history.
What is fondant?
Fondant is an edible icing used to decorate or sculpt cakes and pastries. It’s texture is unique and feels like stiff clay.Why do you love working with fondant?
Baking with fondant has a real element of precision and perfection to it. Think elegance, elaborate details, and upscale glamour. Fondant can be used and manipulated in variety of ways. It allows for the creation of smooth, elegant surfaces and bright custom-matched colors that buttercream does not. It also allows for exquisite décor such as draping, intricate designs, ribbon work, and designer petals. Most importantly, fondant allows me to transform a cake from typical to a work of art.
What are your must-have fondant tools?
My must have tools for baking with fondant is:
- A silicon fondant roller – a non-stick rolling pin specifically designed for fondant.
- A very good quality plastic cake board – I prefer beautiful cleanliness of a white cake board
- Fondant Smoother – These paddle-like tools make can be a lifesaver when it comes to smoothing out rough edges (literally!) They are used to smooth the fondant once it has been draped over the cake for a professional, finished look free of air bubbles or bumps
- Modelling Tool Set – a kit of several sculpting tools are fantastic to have for modeling and shaping and adding detail to fondant. A basic modeling set will include a variety of tools which upon first glance may resemble dentists’ tools, but really, each has valuable uses for the artisan cake decorator. Examples include the flat-on-one-side Bone tool, which is ideal for smoothing curves, the Ball tool, which resembles a tiny ball bearing and is very helpful in making rounded indentations and lines–think veins on leaves and flowers, and the Blade tool, which is something like a scalpel and perfect for cutting out small shapes
Where do you shop for fondant tools?
My personal favourite place to shop is Chefs & Icers in Sandton, but locally, in Bloemfontein, you can find a fantastic variety of tools at I-party.
Where do you find the time to bake and how many cakes do you bake a week?
I bake about 3-4 cakes a week and I bake after hours and on weekends.
That’s roughly 150 cakes a year! That is A LOT of cake Johanna..
(Laughs) I know. But I’m very careful not to overbook myself as baking is my hobby and I don’t want the process to become tedious and taxing. I still want to enjoy every cake I bake. I love it. It’s a real passion for me.
We see your gorgeous stainless steel baking bowls and powder blue utensils is all style and chic – how so?
My kitchen is my happy place. For me baking cakes is about relaxing and being whisked away in a charming environment with beautiful utensils where my imagination can take flight. My kitchen is my pride and I take care to keep it neat and stylish.
What has been some of the most memorable cakes you have baked?
Oh there have been so many…
- The most memorable and certainly difficult cake I’ve baked was a custom Harley logo cake for the Harley Davidson club in Bloem. The detail was a great challenge – I had so much fun!
- I baked a special edition rugby jersey cake for the Cheetah Rugby Union which was featured on television on their show Cheetah Case.
- I baked a Mafia cake which was a tailored jacket with a mafia boss on top – very Godfather.
- But I especially love baking birthday cakes for kids – I’m a real girly girl so the Cinderella castles, little handbags, ragdoll and teddy bear cakes have been some of my favourites I’ve baked thus far.
What is your favourite part of baking artisan fondant cakes?
My favourite part is when someone collects their cake – that honest reaction when they see their cake for the first time. I once baked a Hello Kitty cake for a little girl. When she saw the cake she was so excited she literally jumped onto the table. Squealing with laughter she almost smashed the cake, but it was the cutest thing to see and in my opinion the best compliment I’ve ever received!
Any Top Tips for aspiring fondant bakers?
- Always use a good quality fondant – I prefer fondant by Pettinice. The distributor in Bloemfontein is South Bakels in East End or I-party
- Be sure to knead your fondant properly for 15 minutes to ensure better elasticity.
- For the best variety of vibrant colors, invest in powder fondant coloring. Powder coloring is more concentrated and will allow you to better customize your colours.
- The type of Madera cake used as the base should not be too moist as fondant does not work well with a moist cake. Be sure to bake your Madera cake on a low heat for 75min to ensure the perfect consistency.
- Colour: Pink and pastels
- Signature bake: Artisan fondant cakes
- Food Icon or persona: Nigella and Jamie Oliver
- Band or artist: The boss, Bruce Springsteen – I listen to him when I bake;)
- Quote: Live is shot life it to the fullest.
- Book or Magazine: Huisgenoot always has excellent recipies – Wenrespte
- Online inspiration: Pinterest is excellent
- Cannot bake without? My trusty Kenwood mixer and Defy oven
*Have a look at Johanna’s fabulous cakes on her Facebook page Cakefantasy
- We went to: The Smartgirl Kitchen
- We ate: Delicious Artisan Cake by Johanna for Cakefantasy
- We drank: Cafe Latte
- Photography: The talented FJ Potgieter from Eye Poetry Photography