So being on "vacation" is a relative term. While I didn't have to deliver any cakes this week it doesn't mean I didn't find myself in the kitchen or working on any projects. This week brought cupcakes for a Girls Night Out gathering as well as work on a sugar flower for an upcoming project.
The cupcakes were designed with the clients in mind who said that their favorite cake combination is the old fashioned yellow cake and chocolate icing. But just because the taste is old fashioned doesn't mean the presentation can't be a little edgy. Spun sugar is not a new medium for cakes but it is a new medium for me so playing around with it is fun and the learning curve is steep! I knew that one of the girls is a caramel fan so plain spun sugar wouldn't cut it for this project so I made it taste like caramel by adding in brown sugar with the white sugar to add that molasses taste to the candy. Worked like a dream. The spun sugar had that wonderful amber color and the hard candy had the strong caramel taste. Topping the milk chocolate buttercream off with the chocolate and toffee graham cracker pieces just gave another layer of flavor to this old fashioned treat.
Now your secret of the week has to do with the sugar flower I am working on. Most of the cake shows on TV will show the completed flower or will show the artist working on the flower...and usually thats the last step of coloring the flower, but they don't really show how much work goes into these wonderful creations. First you have to study the flower that you want to copy and figure out how to go about breaking down the pieces and how to make those look like the real flower. Then you make the sugarpaste or fondant. I acutally use a combination of the two most of the time because sugarpaste dries very quickly, sometimes too quickly to get the form or impressions you need for the particular flower. By adding in fondant at a 50/50 ratio you buy yourself a little more molding time. So there is the cutting out of the pieces, molding them as I go, the letting them dry and finally paint the pieces that need painting to look like the real flower.
The flower I'm working on now has 9 petals and a very interesting looking stamen in the center of the flower. Now often sugar flowers are assembled using something called gumglue. This is, simply, water and sugarpaste that has been blended to a glue consistancy. Because the 9 petals are at different layers I had to glue one layer together at a time, let it dry for a day before doing the next layer. So, doing that math you can figure out it takes 3 days to have a fully assembled and dry flower for the cake. When finished and completely dry the guest will have a very beautiful keepsake of their special day. Now you understand why sugar flowers add so much cost to a cake. I only need one for the 8 inch birthday cake I am making but a wedding cake could use up to 15 of these large flowers. At a cost of about $15 per flower you could easily add up to an extra $200 for a wedding cake.
Next week I hope to finish my display cake and be able to share it with all of you!.