Friday, May 21, 2010

The night of a thousand wedding cupcakes

I was (much to my delight) recently given the task of designing and making a friend's wedding cake. The bride and groom expressed a desire to have cupcakes. After I had congratulated them on their excellent taste in baked goods I set about trying to extract a theme from the happy couple,a black and white  minimalist floral theme was decided upon.

Making the flowers
 For piping simple flowers thick royal icing works really well however for hand crafted 'paste' flowers I have been fiddling with the recipe for quite a while. Traditionally pastilage or 'paste' has been used to make life like floral creations on cakes but I've never been happy with it. Firstly it dries out really quickly and usually ends  with me in a crumbly mess but more importantly it doesn't taste any good, the commercial bought flower modelling paste tastes just awful and is rubbery. Prepacked fondant icing is really convenient but it has glycerol added to it which is hygroscopic so a few hours in humid conditions and your flowers are floppy and flat and they never set hard. 
  Ms Cupcake's reliable flower modeling paste

1 500g packet premade rollable fondant icing
1 cup paste mix ( available from decorator shops)

combine water and paste powder as per packet directions, erring on it being a little drier than suggested. Chop the 500g of fondant into smallish chunks and work in the past. Knead on a clean surface lightly dusted with paste powder until all if well combined. Store this mix in cling film wrapped in alfoil in an air tight container for maximum lifespan.

Stickiness was still a problem though. I scoured the Internet and found that most decorators swear by something called 'petal paste' further investigation proved that this was simply a vanilla flavoured vegetable fat that was being sold for $12 for 50g, wowsers!  I simply bought a block of Copha (coconut fat) for $3, melted 1/4 it on the stove added a bit of vanilla essence and then poured it into little jars. it keep really well in the fridge and melts really well. I found it worked best if I massaged a little into the icing before working with it as well as covering my hands and tools with it. With this combination I was able to make hundreds of little flowers with relative ease and great success. Word of warning though flowers made like this are a lot more delicate than paste flowers...well worth it for their delicious taste I say!

 The cakes...
Pan to the final week before the wedding, I had made the bigger 'cutting' cake at the weekend made a few of the cupcakes.. That Monday, the  22nd March some of you may recall was some what  apocalyptic for little old Perth. The storm of the century bore down on us and destroyed any hope I had once had for staying on schedule. It took until Wednesday evening for power to return to my house and baking to begin...there's only so many little flowers you can make by candle light!

Thankfully I managed to recruit a super team of friends ( love love love) to my totalitarian cake empire... the whip cracked as the cake assembly began. Each cake (100 in total) needed to be dipped in warmed white fondant so a perfectly smooth top was achieved. It took us 5 hours to coat every cake...not before I had screamed at my cowering friends about minor dints in the perfection of our efforts (I'm sorry!)

The decorating part I had to do by myself. Thank fully I'd been making flowers for weeks so all I had to do was pipe some vines and stick the flowers the the cakes. The bigger cake had been covered in 3 layers of royal icing  and I made a number of bigger black and white flowers out of a paste/fondant combination. 2am on the Saturday morning of the wedding I was done and so very very pleased with myself! Thank you to Ali for all these wonderful pictures!