Shirlee Goodness Cakery

Making the world a sweeter place one cake at a time

Mom’s 80th Birthday Cake

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Yesterday was  my mom’s 80th birthday party.  Of course, I got to make her birthday cake.  The tables were to be decorated with cherry blossom branches, so I decided to go with a cherry blossom theme.  My friend Donna offered to teach me how to make cherry blossoms out of gum paste.  We started several weeks ago.  I estimated that I would need about 50 blossoms to decorate a 3 tiered cake.  Well, I went to her house and spent several hours each time, making the tiny cherry blossoms.    To make the cherry blossoms, you have to tint the gum paste, make little cones out of green or brown to support the petals, roll out the pink fondant, cut out the 5 petal flower, thin the edges and cup the petals with the ball tool, attach it to the base with a little egg white, and gently lay it in the cupped foil to dry in a rounded shape.   After a few days of drying, you take petal dust and brush the blossoms with the desired color in the centers.  I used a mix of cranberry luster dust and cotton candy sparkle dust.

They are exquisite, as you can see, but after about 7 hours, we only had 10 blossoms made!  By my calculations, I would need 7 x 5 = 35 hours to make the rest of the blossoms…and I still need to bake cakes and make buttercream!  So I decided to go with Plan B, to make the cherry blossoms out of royal icing instead.  These are piped with tip #104 on pieces of waxed paper and dry on flower formers to give them a little bit of shape.  I piped yellow stamens with tip #2.

In the end, I was happy with the results.  I thought it was a pretty, feminine and festive cake.  Someday I’ll make another attempt at gum paste flowers…but maybe for a smaller cake!

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Practice Cherry Blossom Cake

Cherry Blossom Practice Cake

This weekend I made a practice cake.  I am planning a cherry blossom birthday cake for 80 people for my mom’s birthday party and thought I’d try out a new recipe from the “Organic and Chic” cookbook by Sara  Magid.  I made the “Diablo Cake,” her version of a devil’s food cake and vanilla whipped buttercream.    The Diablo Cake is intensely chocolate.  I loved it!  It reminded me of a flourless chocolate cake…dense and not too sweet, with the taste of a dark chocolate bar.  I think the one cup of coffee in the batter really brings out the chocolate!

My vanilla whipped buttercream was a light brown color, partly because of the organic sugar and lots because of the dark Trader Joe’s pure vanilla flavor.  For the  real cake, I think that I will make a swiss meringue buttercream because it’s a smoother texture and I want a whiter background for the cherry blossoms.  The cherry blossoms for this practice cake were ones I made quickly out of royal icing.  My icing was a little too soft, so the petals aren’t very defined, but I think the overall effect came out nicely.  For the real cake, I am working on gum paste cherry blossoms with my friend, Donna.

I took the cake to my meeting on Monday night, and they all were duly impressed.  Here’s a picture of a slice of cake.  You can see how rich and dense the cake is!  I put a raspberry filling in between the layers because that’s what I happened to have around.  It made a nice compliment to the dark chocolate.  For the real cake, I’m going to use cherry filling to go with the cherry blossom theme.

Slice of cake

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Surprise in the mail!

This week, I came home one evening to find a package at the door.  I thought, “What could this be?  Did I order something?”  I opened it and what a surprise!  It was a signed copy of “Organic and Chic,” a book about organic baking and decorating.  My cousin Janet saw it, liked it, and got it for me!  Out of the blue.  No special occasion.  Just because she is a sweet and thoughtful gift giver.  The pictures in the book are gorgeous.  Lots of elegant cakes with gum paste flowers.  I read the introduction and was so happy to read another success story of someone who was working in another industry and started baking and changed careers.

This weekend, I’ll be out of town and not able to bake, so I’m taking the book with me to read and choose a recipe to try.  My next project will be my mom’s birthday cake for 70 people, so I’ll pick out a cake to bake next weekend that might be the one for her.  I’m really curious to see what difference the organic ingredients make in the taste and texture.

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