Monday, January 19, 2015

Samantha and Bart's Wedding Cake

In October 2013 our dear friends here in the Netherlands were getting married and asked me to make their wedding cake.

The bride choose colors of white and gold and I began to research how to use edible gold. A place in the UK sells gold both in transfer sheet and loose leaf form, so I decided to try both in 23 and 24 carat. After making the floral design based on the wedding invitations, I attempted to apply gold directly to smoothed chilled buttercream icing- and as a bonus this test cake was made up of 8 versions for the bride and groom to have a cake tasting.
The easiest version to work for me with was the 23ct 80x80 transfer sheets. Since the gold is affixed to paper, it is simple to trace the pattern onto the paper (use your pattern correct side up- the other side will go directly onto the cake), cut with scissors, and apply, soaking the paper side with either water or vodka (dries quicker) using a brush.  Leaving a small piece of paper that is bigger than the pattern for you to hold onto helps with removal of the paper. Maybe you are wondering if you can 'taste' or notice texture of the gold- definitely not. It is thinner than paper and has no flavor or texture, and as it is actual real gold, which is fairly inert, it passes right through the body. It is an edible additive, listed in the EU as an ingredient: E175.

For the first time I was creating a four-tiered cake, and using a brand new (a gift from the bride & groom!) 12" cake pan for the bottom layer. Of course I had to make a test cake of the bottom tier - and luckily my friend Viktorija's birthday at the end of September was perfect timing.
Above you can see the wedding invitation next to the test cake. Because this process results in some cracking of the gold on the buttercream, I piped white outlines on top of the gold, both for three dimensional effect and to disguise the cracks. Using a floral design works well for this because nature has irregular aspects, allowing the imperfections to contribute to the naturalness. 

The bride and groom choose the flavor of strawberries and cream over the other filling options: lemon cream, chocolate ganache, and vanilla buttercream. I used my basic buttercream for the icing on the outside of the cake, ensuring a smooth finish and worry free sitting at room temperature for hours before being served. Below: the bride, her cake, and me (even the wallpaper matched the theme!) 
The experience of creating a wedding cake for dear friends was both stressful and wonderful, and made me so happy to see their joyful faces and hear the compliments from the guests on the taste. Doing two different test cakes and cutting all the flowers ahead of time made it possible for me to create the (unstacked) wedding cake in one day. Preparation and my fabulous mother babysitting my children was the reason this could happen.
Thanks, Mom! You are the best!
Thanks to my husband for his photographs. We enjoyed every minute of this amazing event and I felt both fortunate and blessed to be a part of it. Samantha and Bart, we wish you all the best in marriage and life!

For more pictures from the wedding, Click here for the photographer's photos (The second photo is me adding the final borders to the cake and further down you see Dina helping with the rings.) 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas tree mini cupcakes

For my daughter's Christmas dinner at school I wanted to bring cupcakes or cookies and since I could not decide, I did both. First I burned all my fingers making home-made ice cream cones using this recipe (but in miniature form- 1 tablespoon of batter per cookie, shaped around a HEMA toy ice cream cone covered in foil). Then, I baked vanilla mini cupcakes and made some green basic butter cream.

I used kitchen shears to trim the cones to the right height. To make the trees, I piped a bit of icing in a circle on the cupcake and pressed the cone into the circle of icing. Then I used a leaf tip- Wilton 366 (large one) and Wilton 352 (same thing but smaller) to pipe branches (leaves) on the trees, starting from the bottom and going up. The more random the placement the better, and I used the big tip on the bottom branches and the smaller tip on the top with a single leaf coming out of the very top to finish it.
Dina was on decorating duty and did not disappoint. She choose which sprinkles to use and in what quantity. We discovered that while stable, these don't stay together if you tilt them 90 degrees to apply the decoration. In the photo below, you see her tilting at the maximum allowable angle. However, since most of them fell over during the car transport to school, I will also say that they looked remarkably good after rolling around all together- I think the cookie underneath kept the shape nicely.
My husband called these unjustifiable cones because upon returning home I tried to pipe trees without using the cones (I did not have a single extra cone which was stressful.) and lo! The trees are pretty adorable without using cones, too.
And I made a wreath and a cute sprig of holly, too. And neither of those required finger-burning cones.

Did I mention how much the cones sucked? No. Well. They did. But the cone scraps were pretty tasty on their own.

Dina and I made a forest.
 Christmas dinner success!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cranberries- a recipe from my mom

Tis the season for Cranberries! My mom always makes a cranberry relish dish for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It takes a day or two for the flavors to come together, so do it today for Thanksgiving, which is in two days. It can sit for longer than that in the refrigerator- I actually prefer it after 4 or 5 days of the flavors melding. This recipe is super easy and flexible but you do need a food processor.

1 bag of cranberries (I used 340 grams but any size bag is fine, just adjust the rest of the ingredients)
1 orange
1 apple
1/2 cup to 1 cup of sugar (you decide! Taste it before serving and make sure it isn't too sour.)

Rinse and sort the cranberries. They should be red, firm and feel hard like an apple. You wouldn't eat a soft apple, would you? Ditch the bad ones and keep the best for the recipe. Place the sorted cranberries, zest of the orange(only the dark orange part, the white bit is bitter- don't use it!), the juice from half the orange, and the apple, peeled and cut into chunks in a food processor.

Process until you are satisfied with the size of the chunks. Here are two examples (I prefer the second one- it has been processed a bit longer and therefore is finer.)

Add 1/2 cup of sugar (or less) and stir to combine. Let sit in the refrigerator at least overnight and preferably for a few days. Taste. Add more sugar if it is too sour.

I hope everyone has a very happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sunflower Cake: Dina's 4th Birthday

When my daughter born in March explained that she wanted to have a sunflower theme for her 4th birthday I was a little bit worried. Sunflowers? In March? Is that even possible here in NL?

I immediately began planning the cake and even had her make a drawing of what she wanted her cake design to look like.
My drawing of the cake.
Dina's drawing of her cake.

My decision to paint the wall to match the theme was perhaps a bit over the top, since I was 9 months pregnant at the time.
The color yellow we choose made me so happy, however, and I have not regretted it.

The luckiest part of the preparations happened a week before the party. I was at local outdoor market, getting flowers for a friend when I saw SUNFLOWERS for sale, totally out of season. I asked the guy where they were from, "Israel," he said, and his next question was, "Will you buy them? Great deal!" I asked if they would last a week and he suggested I place them in a cold place, in water, then cut them as short as I could manage just before the party. It worked beautifully. I was thrilled to have real sunflowers in March!

Using a 9x13" pan for the base cake and a couple of 6" pans and cupcakes for the flowers, I made her sunflower cake happen.
 (Does it look a bit like Mickey Mouse here? I thought so.)

I made a chocolate cake with chocolate ganache filling, and basic butter cream frosting. The sunflowers were made with a leaf tip (#68) and a star tip for the top, using a cocoa frosting. The grass and the writing were made with a round tip (#10 and #7). I did not put a base coat on the sunflowers, so you see the chocolate cake through the yellow petals, which I felt made it look more true to life.
The favors were sunflowers, grown from seed in the months before her birthday. I had her take a similar favor to school to give out but in that case it was just seeds, dirt, and a tiny painted pot with a stick holding the center of the invitation design(thanks, Uncle Danny!) and "Dina is 4" on the back.

We also covered our normal framed photos with my photographer husband's best sunflower ones.
We played pin the bee on the sunflower. Thanks, Uncle Danny for the giant sunflower, and Thanks, Samantha for the bees!

Much of the food served looked like sunflowers:

For her school party I made cupcakes- using Oreos as the center of each sunflower and also using round chocolate crunchy sprinkle-type things as well.

 It was a great party and we enjoyed celebrating Dina's fourth birthday! I'm over a year delayed in posting about this- but it was a blast.