Oh March, with your break from school, green beer and shamrocks, Spring, Passover and Easter to close things out. I had not noticed before what an eventful month you are. I blinked and found myself already halfway through your four weeks! Why must you move so quickly?
I can't seem to wrap my mind around being three months into the new year. More shocking... how little I have baked! This is only my third cake this year!! My first was this Orchid Flower Cake I made for the redesign of my blog and then this mouthwatering Butter Pecan Cake the mister and I whipped up for Valentine's Day. All my other posts, with the exception of these Elephant Cookies, have been of treats made last year.
But I have good reason. Life's been quite hectic behind the scene. 2013 has brought with it a number of challenges, some welcomed, others, not so much. I won't bore you with the details this time around. Let's talk peonies and princesses today.
Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Instagram may remember my teaser last weekend for the flower in this post. Well, it finally joined forces with this stenciled, teal number to help a blushing bride-to-be celebrate her final days of bachelorettehood.:)
I have been on a flower making frenzy of late. In the wee hours of the morning, when I should be resting for work, I've been cultivating my private sugar garden where cabbage roses, anemones, dahlias, tulips, carnations, roses, orchids and peonies are in bloom - all waiting their turn to adorn future cakes. The more I make them, the more patience and appreciation I acquire for the process, and pure admiration for those who have masteredthe art.
I think I appreciate the art of stenciling as much as I do sugar flowers. I've used a number of mediums to stencil on cakes - edible paint, lustre dusts, even cocoa - this was only my third time using royal icing. I somehow convinced myself otherwise, but a quick check of my photo archive confirmed that fact. I have actually stenciled more cookies than I have cakes.
My admiration for stenciled cakes has resulted in an impressive collection of stencils. I haven't had opportunity to use many, but perhaps I will get around to them this year. I used this Victorian Crochet lace stencil and royal icing tinted gray for this design. I then used pink edible luster dust mixed with a little vodka to add some pink accents to the design. My attempt at piping a pearl border did not end so well - I forgot to change the icing consistency, so it began to lose its shape when left to set. Unfortunately, I did not have time to correct it. :(
I used marshmallow fondant to cover both tiers. It tastes so much better than the store-bought stuff, but it is a messy, pain in the behind to make and can be quite sticky. Explains why I've only made it a couple times. I think I'll make more of an effort though, as it's more cost effective and as I mentioned above, tasty. If you have not tried it, you should - the recipe is below. The base tier is an 8" double barrel vanilla cake, filled with raspberry and white chocolate swiss meringue buttercream. The top tier is 6" of the same flavour. Both were covered in white chocolate ganache before the fondant was applied.
I call her Princess Peony! Her teal and pink girlish charm exterior conceals two tiers of a sweet, decadent, chocolatey inside. Much like the bride-to-be! ;) All the best to you, Mel, as you prepare to enter a new chapter of your life.
Ingredients 400g mini marshmallow 30ml water 1.5g salt 1ml pure lemon extract 30ml clear corn syrup 5ml pure vanilla extract 900g confectioners sugar, sifted 118ml vegetable shortening Gel colours of your choice (I used Americolor Teal)
Directions Grease microwave-safe dish and spatula with vegetable shortening. Place marshmallows and water into dish and microwave on high for one minute. Remove and stir well. Microwave on high for 30-second intervals until the marshmallows are completely melted.
Remove from microwave and add the gel colour(s) and the remaining ingredients, except the sugar. Stir with the spatula to combine. Add half the sugar and mix until fully incorporated. Pour the remaining sugar onto a clean counter and place the fondant on the sugar. Slowly knead the fondant, working from the outside in. Knead until most of the sugar is incorporate. Rub your hands with a generous amount of vegetable shortening and continue kneading the fondant until it becomes smooth and confectioners sugar is incorporated. Continue to add a little shortening until it’s pliable and smooth. Coat again with vegetable shortening and wrap in two layers of plastic wrap. Place in a zip-top plastic bag and allow to rest at room temperature overnight.