I won’t pretend to have an excuse for not posting anything to this blog for the last, ahem, 5 months. I have some excuses of course but they’re trivial (like being busy/ worn out from work and not having a photo studio at home… aka laziness). I wasn’t planning on blogging at all until I had a stockpile of posts to put up here as I hate blogging and then going awol for a long time, but I figured it was time to finally break the silence. And I have pictures of a cute cake to post.
I was co-hostess for a friend’s baby shower last weekend, and since I’m now a baker the cake fell onto my list of responsibilities. We decided to do a forest animal themed shower, and while perusing the internet for ideas I came across the tree stump cake and thought that was an excellent idea!!
The cake itself is based off the carrot cupcakes from VCTOTW, but I modified the flour and spices, ixnayed the raisins and added figs (wonderful texture contributor!). A word of caution, carrot cake is DENSE, and doesn’t rise very much in the oven. Originally I made a 3 times batch of cupcakes thinking that would be plenty for my 8 and 9 inch cake pans. WRONG! I had to go back to the drawing board and make another 2 times batch. So, that there cake you see above, it’s equivalent to 60 cupcakes. 60. Seriously. And damn, it was heavy. I had a wrist ache after putting the base coating of icing on.
All the animals and what not are made out of marzipan. And no, I don’t mean that small, overpriced box of preserved crap you find at the local Kroger. If people knew how easy this stuff is to make they would never buy it in ready to use form. Marzipan is simply almond paste, powdered sugar and corn syrup. I absolutely cringed when I bought the bottle of corn syrup (can you say GMO???) but I at least splurged and got the non-high fructose corn syrup stuff. I’m sure you could sub brown rice syrup or maybe even honey, but you’ll have to play with the amount as the consistency will be different.
As for the almond paste, you can also buy that in ready to use form at specialty baking stores. Or, you can save yourself $15 and make it yourself (of course). There are a bunch of variations of almond paste out there but I went with this one. And you can totally make this several days or even weeks in advance and store it, wrapped tightly, in the fridge.
Here’s the marzipan recipe:
- 8oz almond paste
- 8oz powdered sugar (10x)
- 2oz corn syrup
Use the paddle attachment and mix the almond paste and 10x in your stand mixer. Add just enough corn syrup to make the almond paste moldable, but it shouldn’t be sticky. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap.
So coloring the marzipan is where you end up breaking all your culinary ethics and buying a box of Wilton icing colors. I hate fake things. Especially fake things that have high fructose corn syrup in them, but there’s really no other way to get all these colors (which makes me think I need to develop some healthy coloring alternatives…). I rarely make cake or cupcakes with non-natural colors because I hate using that stuff, but this was a special occasion that I felt warranted me going against my food morals.
So, to color the marzipan, you take small blobs of it, grab a toothpick and dip it into the color you want and then stab the marzipan blob all over. Then knead it with your hands until the color is no longer tie-dye but uniform. You’ll most likely have to keep adding and adding color to achieve your desired results, especially if you’re wanting a deep red or black. Start small as you can always add more color.
As you can see, I did a lot of hand kneading of the marzipan. It was so much fun though. I had such a great time making all the little figures. I suggest latex gloves, or something similar. The colors will wash off but it can get messy. I need to work on not getting my fingerprints all over the figures, but I think these turned out just fine for my maiden voyage.
I made chocolate cupcakes too. Seems the daddy to be doesn’t really like cake but he likes cupcakes… (I don’t get it either). It’s ok though. I tried to make them look mossy. The green on top is just crumbled up vanilla cake, the same stuff I used for my “grass” around the tree stump.
I also made chocolates for the party (yes, I was a little worn out by the time everything was said and done). The ones in the back are meant to be like the Rocher truffles, there’s a hazelnut in the middle, chocolate ganache, vanilla wafer pieces, chocolate and then cocoa powder. The filled chocolates have either caramel or crisp rice in them, and the clusters in front are just chocolate and crisp rice (word to the wise, make sure you have enough chocolate before trying to make filled chocolates… or you’ll end up making clusters :)).
And, just in case you’re wondering, everything here is completely vegan.
Well, I hope to be frequenting my blog more often. I have tons of ideas but finding time (and money) to actualize them isn’t always so easy. What I REALLY need is a nice little SLR camera and a photo studio my cats won’t tear apart, but that’s not likely to happen anytime soon. I also find myself making more savory food at home these days rather than sweet, so there’s a high possibility this “baking” blog might yield slightly into a more general food blog, but that’s not necessarily the end of the world is it?
Anyway, until the next time, have a great day and happy baking!