Chevron Cake + Chevron & Stache Party!

Chevron & Stache Table via Sweetapolita

Something different today, friends! If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been recently, it’s been a whirlwind of chevron and staches in my kitchen for weeks. I’ve been preparing for Mary’s (my beloved sister-in-law) baby shower dessert table in honour of my soon-to-be-born nephew, and you know I loved every minute of this.

Chevron & Stache Dessert Table via Sweetapolita

image: Ted Sheppard

We celebrated this past Sunday at the lake, where the sun was shining and the house a buzz with Mary’s closest friends and family giddy with love and first-time-mom-to-be excitement. If ever there has been a woman meant to be a mom, it’s her, and we can’t wait to greet this cherished little man in May (and by greet I mean spoil beyond belief). And what better way to celebrate than with countless pounds of butter and sugar disguised as an array of little man mustaches and chevron cake?

Chevron & Stache Party via Sweetapolita

Mary loves blue of all shades, particularly turquoise, and she loves chevron. And her man loves all-things mustache, so it seemed like an obvious choice to embrace the recent trend of chevron and staches with a slight rustic twist, since the party was being held in cottage country. I did find some incredible inspiration (check out this unbelievable party) peppered all over Pinterest, so it wasn’t long before I found myself scribbling all sorts of dessert table details and sketches on paper.

I knew that a crisp graphic two-tier chevron cake was going to be part of the plan, so I spent a few weeks planning how I was going to execute that. I’ve never done a chevron cake, and I really wanted it to be super-clean and almost paper-like. Before we chat about chevron cake, I’d love to share a few photos from the rest of the dessert table:

Stache Cookies via Sweetapolita

I started with a big batch of mustache cookies using my favourite dark chocolate cookie recipe and my Fred and Friends Munchstaches Cookie Cutter/Stamps – I’ve been dying to use these! I also made a huge batch of salted chocolate chip cookies and saved a few scoops of the cookie dough to add to the cake filling. One of my new favourite buttercream variations, for certain.

Chevron & Stache Party via Sweetapolita

I made some lemon cupcakes filled with lemon curd and topped with lemon frosting, along with some funfetti cupcakes and fondant-covered little man cookies.

Mustache Lollies via Sweetapolita

I couldn’t resist making some chocolate mustache lollies (my favourite ones are the “blonde” staches, for some unknown reason). I used candy melts this time, just for pure convenience really. They do yield a super-glossy and resilient stache!

Chevron & Stache Party via Sweetapolita

Cousin Leah made these adorable mustache cake pops, which were a big hit — especially with cakelet Neve who said these were her “most favourite thing on the party table.”

Chevron & Stache Party via Sweetapolita

Chevron & Stache Party via Sweetapolita

image: Ted Sheppard

I made a batch of cheesecake pops and topped them with some little mustache flags (I’m in love with these little flags!). I love cheesecake pops for a dessert table because you can make and freeze them ahead of time, I discovered. Since I couldn’t possibly make all of these treats at the last minute, it was important that I could do as much as possible in the weeks leading up to the party. I froze them in large plastic freezer bags, opened just a bit. I took them from freezer to fridge the day before the party and they held up so well during the travel and, most importantly, tasted fabulous.

Chevron Cake via Sweetapolita

image: Ted Sheppard

So, now let’s talk Chevron Cake! The cake was a 5-inch round atop an 8-inch round dark chocolate cake filled with cookie dough Italian Meringue buttercream and covered in vanilla buttercream, marshmallow fondant and finally chevron “panels” made from white and turquoise candy clay. A week or so before I started making the cake, I started looking for a chevron pattern I liked online, to use as a template — who knew there were so many, but the size of the chevron really does change the whole look of the cake. I knew I wanted it to be on the larger size because I liked the visual, but also because I wanted to apply the chevron pattern in panels, and I knew that if the pattern itself was too small there’d be more chance for misalignment — eek!

First I should say that the Candy Clay recipe is from the Wilton website, and I highly recommend it. Candy clay is essentially like a yummy playdough that boasts an amazing sheen, softens with the warmth of your hand, doesn’t dry out when exposed to air and cuts into shapes beautifully. It’s so easy to make (like scary easy) — it’s literally just melted candy melts and corn syrup stirred together — the corn syrup seizes the candy melts and, once it’s dried out a bit, you simply knead it into a modeling clay of sorts. And while you can’t cover a cake in it (it has no real stretch component), it’s amazing for decorating fondant-covered cakes. It doesn’t bend or distort like fondant does when you try to pick up small pieces or strips, making it ideal for this kind of a graphic design.

So I went with this pattern template, printed it out at 100% and then cut a section from it that would become my panel template (you could use any printable chevron pattern online or even chevron scrapbook paper). My cakes were 4.5″ high, so I cut the template piece at that height, one chevron wide. I decided to cut the chevron straight down the middle, resulting in two pieces, so essentially each panel was half of a chevron wide (1.75-inches). The circumference of my 8-inch cake was 26-inches, so I knew I needed 14 panels (26 divided by 1.75 = 14).

Using an awesome technique created by Jessica Harris, I simply placed waxed paper squares over the template paper (just a bit bigger than the template), applied a thin layer of shortening to the wax paper and lined up the bottom edges. I then placed strips of the candy clay (turquoise and white) along the lines of the template until it was covered, then trimmed the edges with a small sharp knife. I gently rubbed some shortening to the area of the cake where each panel would be applied, using a paper towel, and then carefully pressed each panel onto the cake, making sure each one was straight. Technically you could just do the turquoise (or colour of your choice) portion of the template, leaving the white as negative space, but I really wanted to fill in the white areas with white candy clay.

To ensure your pieces are all the same thickness (and to save you a lot of time and rolling), use a Pasta Machine at a nice thin setting to feed your rolled candy clay pieces through (it also works well for fondant and gumpaste too). I cut one “stripe” from a leftover piece of the template paper and used it to cut all of my chevron stripes with before placing on the wax paper.

In a perfect world, if your math is right, your panels should all line up, but remember that if each one is off even a tiny bit, then in the end you might end up with too much space or not enough for that last panel. (Trust me.) But, you can always have a “back” to the cake if you end up with an oopy with the final panel.

I made the cake topper by simply cutting five 1-inch patterned paper circles and threading them together and securing them to two skewers. I was inspired by this amazing cake, and it’s one of my favourite details!

And just in case you’re feeling the need to nestle your chevron cake among an array of other desserts, here’s a recap of the Chevron & Stache treats that were part of the party:

Chevron & Stache Dessert Table Menu: 

Party Detail Sources:

Little Man graphics (cupcake wrappers, signage, large table banner and cupcake toppers): thatpartygirl

Wooden Chevron & Mustache party forks: Sucre Shop

Mustache Flags (on cheesecake pops): Postscripts

Mustache Cookie Cutters: Fred and Friends Munchstaches Cookie Cutter/Stamps

Brown Parchment Cupcake Liners: Regency Tulip Baking Cups

Mustache Lolli Mold: Mustache Fun Face Lollipop Molds

Mustache Mold for Fondant Cookie Toppers: Accoutrements Mustache Ice Cube Tray

And that was that! (Exhale.)

I’ll see you soon with a super sun-shiney cake post. ♥

Related posts:

How to Make a Fondant Asparagus Cake {a Tutorial}

Fondant Asparagus Cake via Sweetapolita

This post makes me giggle. Well, not the actual post, since I haven’t written it yet, but the fact that I am still inflicting innocent and unsuspecting passersby with what seems to be the endless life of the Asparagus Cake–the trompe l’oeil cake I made as, really, just a joke for Grant’s sister, Mary, or as we call her, Mar. When I initially shared this crazy cake idea back when I first started this blog just over a year ago, and then again when I recreated and revisited it (above) this past May, I never really expected that anyone else would want (or have a good reason) to make this cake themselves, which is why I didn’t include tutorials in either of those posts. Then, something unexpected happened: I began getting emails from readers asking me for a tutorial and explaining that they indeed have the perfect reason to make this cake. This makes me very happy! I love that some of you actually have reasons to make one, and that some of you simply want to. Yep, I kind of love that. Long live Asparagus Cakes!

Just to recap on why I made this cake the first time, Mar had been training for a fitness competition for many months prior to her show in November, and this poor foodie, fellow lover-of-sweet had been eating more asparagus than one could even fathom. She’s amazing, though, and stayed more focused and disciplined than most of us (and by most of us, I mean me) could even dream of, so the girl earned herself some serious post-show cake. So, for fun, during her training months we would chat about all of the delicious things she couldn’t wait to eat after the show, and more specifically at our house the next day for a celebratory lunch. When I asked her what she wanted for dessert, she said “I’d love something with chocolate cake and vanilla buttercream, but other than that, whatever you think!” So, my first thought was something pink and girly, you know, a real show-stopping dessert for a fitness queen, but then it dawned on me: Asparagus! It simply could be no other way and, if you know me, you know that nothing was going to stop me from making this happen. It just made too much sense, and I love a challenge. I was so excited with the way it turned out, and it was actually a little easier than I expected.

The real asparagus I referred to while making this cake–this photo is not fondant asparagus, and I promise I would not put this real asparagus, or any other real asparagus, onto a cake!

Referring to actual asparagus (above) was the most important step in the process of creating this cake. I learned a few things the first time around and made some notes on what I would do the next time to improve it. My main issue with the first one was that I felt the spears still looked a bit too green, even though I did add hints of red, because if you look, I mean really look, at real raw asparagus, they are filled with some neat red and many purple tones. Since I wanted them to look as realistic as possible, I knew that they had to look raw, because cooked asparagus takes on that bright green colour, and well, cooked asparagus wouldn’t be presented in a bunch–it was definitely about the details. Life is in the details!

I think the key to making this cake look hyper-realistic, aside from the rolling and snipping, is the shading, which I achieved by brushing on a few different petal dust colours (those typically used to create very realistic sugar flowers) once the “asparagus” were dry–that is when this cake came to life. If you look at the photo above, you’ll see that, when I took that photo, I’d shaded the full spears but not the tips yet–do you see the dimension that gives? I think had I gone with the straight green and undusted asparagus on the cake, it would have looked like a neat cake that looks like a bundle of asparagus. By shading it all, it took it to looking much like an actual bundle of asparagus, which is what you want if you’re looking to wow some folks. I’ll tell you a secret: I continue to get very passionate emails from people who believe this cake is a farce, and who swear I have manipulated it, or the photos, in some way. They can’t believe that it’s not real asparagus and are so angry with me for trying to get away with Asparagus Cake fraud (who knew that was a thing?) that they send me hate mail. Can you imagine? I swear this to be true. So, I suppose the moral of the story here is that, if you want to make people really angry and get Asparagus Cake fraud hate mail too, you really better shade those spears!

Fondant Asparagus Cake via Sweetapolita

So, believe it or not, this cake is not difficult to make, and it’s a very simple process, albeit time consuming. Essentially, your making fondant asparagus and attaching them to the outside of a green cake, followed by covering the top of the cake with small 2″ fondant asparagus tips that fill in every inch of exposed cake on top. Once all of the spears and tips are on the cake, you will see it magically transform into a life-like bundle of asparagus. The finishing touch, for both function and form, is the ribbon–it holds the asparagus in place while they are setting on the cake (and while displayed), and it also mimics the string or elastic that typically ties real life bunches together.

If time is on your side, I recommend making your fondant asparagus over the course of days or even weeks, to break it up. Once made, you can keep them in a dry open-air spot, out of the sun, indefinitely. If you are creating the entire cake all at once, you would let the asparagus dry overnight, if possible, and then you would dust to shade them, and assemble. I covered my buttercream covered cake with green fondant, but you can also skip this step by colouring your buttercream green and simply pressing the asparagus straight onto the cake–this may even be easier, but I have yet to do it this way. Since wet fondant becomes a glue of sorts, attaching the asparagus to your fondant-covered cake does work. One thing I would do differently next time would be taper the tops of the full stalks a little less, so that there is no under-cake showing through. I think the slightly tapered top is important, but just a bit less would have been perfect.

A note about your choice of fondant for this cake: When I made this the second time (above), I used my favourite brand of fondant, Satin Ice. One of the reasons I normally love Satin Ice brand the best is because it dries the most porcelain-like on my cakes, but in this instance, for the fondant asparagus, I would have preferred them to be a little less porcelain like, as they were the first time I made the cake. I found they were so firm with the Satin Ice that they didn’t adhere to the cake as well as the first time I made the cake. So, in this case, I would recommend using any other brand for this project, as every other brand I’ve tried is softer, even when dry. This also makes slicing the cake a bit easier–that coupled with the fact that Satin Ice is the most $$, it’s just a great idea to avoid it for this cake.

Fondant Asparagus Cake via Sweetapolita

What you do on the inside of the cake is totally up to you, of course, but I personally feel that a rich dark chocolate cake, paired with vanilla buttercream offers a pleasing contrast for all of that green. And, as always, splitting your layers to create a 6 or even 8-layer cake will add even more drama to an already dramatic cake. This cake is just too much fun to not make. If you have someone in your life, like Mar, who is an asparagus-eating king or queen, then it just makes good sense.

A few more reasons for when to make this cake and have it make even a little bit of sense (Sweetapolita *chanting* let’s make, let’s make, let’s make an asparagus cake!):

  • For someone who simply takes healthy eating very seriously
  • For someone who just happens to love asparagus
  • Fitness enthusiasts
  • For kids! This is a hilarious joke to play on a kid who isn’t quite as passionate about vegetables as they are about cake–birthday or not
  • A garden party
  • For anyone who works with veggies for a living: chef, farmer, grocer
  • For those who love to garden
  • For a quirky wedding, garden wedding or groom’s cake (I almost cried when I saw this wedding online–oh, how perfect this cake would have been for them and their perfectly quirky wedding)
  • Just because!

So, now that we have many reasons to run to the kitchen and whip up this asparagus confection, let me explain how we do it. This may look like a lot of steps, but honestly, this cake isn’t about complexity, it’s about time. Sweet, precious time. Simply put, it takes a lot of it (how much time depends on how fast you work, of course), but it is pretty straightforward, and it’s worth it.

Here we go (and wheee!):

How to Make an Asparagus Cake         {click to print}

You will need:

  • a round layer cake–~4-5″ high and diameter up to you (the one in photo was 8″ round) either covered in green fondant (~1 lb + 12 oz) or green buttercream
  • fondant for asparagus (this depends on the size of your cake, but ~1.5 lbs–I recommend having an extra lb or more, just in case)
  • gel colours: AmeriColor Leaf Green, Sugarflair Gooseberry
  • petal dust colours: Foliage Green or Moss Green Petal Dust, African Violet Petal Dust, Flame Red Petal Dust
  • fondant work mat (I use Ateco 24 x 36 Inch Fondant Work Mat for all of my fondant work and more), optional
  • a small sharp knife
  • 3 wire racks or cookie sheets lined with parchment paper
  • pair of small scissors (such as manicure scissors you designate for food)
  • 3 small-medium paint brushes for dusting colour, 1 medium-large brush for water
  • ribbon of choice
  • cornstarch or icing sugar for dusting work surface (if not using fondant work mat)

Method

Make your fondant asparagus (you can make these as far in advance as you wish):

  1. Colour your fondant 3 shades of green using the AmeriColor Leaf Green & Sugarflair Gooseberry. Make 1/3  of your fondant 50/50, then make two additional shades: 1 with the slightest bit more Leaf Green and the final with the slightest bit more Gooseberry. Keep all your 3 shades of green fondant well-sealed (I use medium plastic seal bags) while not in use, and only work with small amounts at once.
  2. Removing only a golf-ball-sized bit of fondant from the bag, soften it by working it in your hands for a moment, and then, on a fondant work mat or clean countertop, roll into a long, even rope, about 1/2″ thick or so, using your hands or a cookie sheet (this creates a very even rope) in a back-and-forth rolling motion. *If your fondant sticks to your countertop, use a light dusting of icing sugar or cornstarch. If you use a fondant mat, you won’t have this issue.
  3. Cut into 5″ long pieces (you should get 3 or so per rope) and cut remaining “rope” into 2″ pieces. Using the palm of your hand, roll “neck’ of each piece gently, so that it tapers a small bit and then do the same to the very tip, so it becomes slightly pointed. Don’t worry if they aren’t all the exact same length, as we’ll be trimming them a bit before putting them on the cake.
  4. Working quickly, and while keeping the pieces on the counter, make many tiny snips the tapered ends of each piece and sporadically along the stalks. *Be sure to not actually cut the flaps of fondant off when using the scissors, as you want the little “triangle” flaps to pull away from the spear, but not come off. So now you have your first spears and tips (woohoo!). Now, simply repeat a few hundred times. Kidding! Sort of. Set each one on a wire rack or parchment-lined cookie sheet (they simply dry faster on rack, but if you are doing ahead of time, use cookie sheets as they are easy to move around) to dry. The quantity needed depends on the diameter of you cake and how thick you rolled your asparagus stalks. I believe I used about 75 full spears (for the outside of the cake) and ~400 tips to fill the center. Let dry overnight (or up to weeks in advance) in a cool, dry place–exposed to air.
  5. Using small dry paintbrushes, generously dust each spear with green dust at the tip and randomly over stalk (where you snipped), then with hints of African Violet and Flame Red. *Refer to your real bunch of asparagus as much as possible. You will be adding a final round of dust after the cake has been assembled, so you don’t need to go overboard with the dusting.
  6. Pat yourself on the back and celebrate with a fancy beverage of some kind, because the worst, my friends, is over–you have just made hundreds of fondant asparagus + tips!

Assemble the Asparagus Cake:

  1. Cover your cake in either green vanilla buttercream or vanilla buttercream covered with green fondant. *I used green fondant that I coloured white fondant using leaf green to gooseberry green 50/50. Don’t stress too much about your fondant or buttercream job being perfect, because not one inch of this part of the cake will be visible, but do your best to start with a fairly smooth and even surface. Place cake on the plate or pedestal you plan to serve it on, and chill cake for 30 minutes, or so.
  2. If you finished your cake with green vanilla buttercream, that will essentially be your glue–you can go ahead and places your full spears, one by one, directly around the cake, as close together as possible. You may want to trim the bottom of certain spears before sticking them to the cake, to ensure they all sit at the same height–you want your spears to sit about 2″ above the top of your cake (see photo). If you finished your cake with green fondant, you will use a medium-large paint brush or pastry brush and wet sections of the cake before gently pressing the asparagus to the sides–the wet fondant is your glue. You may have to hold each one or few for a moment until it sticks, or tie a ribbon around the outside of the spears and cake to set (see photo).
  3. Once you have placed spears all the way around the perimeter of the cake, tie the ribbon firmly around the cake to help them set.
  4. You will now place the tips tightly together on the top of the cake, one by one. Remember that you don’t want any of the under-cake exposed, as this is what makes it look so real. Fill every inch you can with the tips, trimming the bottoms before placing on the cake, if necessary (you want them to be as close to the same height as possible).
  5. Add any last shading with your petal dusts to enhance the tips, bases and spots where you snipped.
  6. Voila! Now, please, have another fancy beverage and piece of cake to celebrate (Asparagus Cake, anyone?). You did it!

Sweetapolita’s Notes for a successful Asparagus Cake:

  • Use real asparagus as your guide–this was key for me. Had I gone by memory, I never would have thought to include red and purple shading, which I think makes it.
  • Make all of the spears fairly consistent (in terms of length and diameter), but each one should be slightly different (shading, snips, etc)–think organic shapes and colours–not overly engineered.
  • Sugarflair Gooseberry green gel is the best I’ve found for a realistic green shade of base fondant. If you can’t find this, try adding a tiny bit of black to your Leaf Green colour gel, or experiment with mixing different shades of green.
  • Shading, shading, shading–this gives the cake that real trompe l’oeil dimension that freaks people out (hehe).

Love Asparagus? Check out these lovely handmade asparagus finds:

Good luck, enjoy & Happy Asparagus Cake Day (not really, but imagine if I had the power to create such a thing?)!



Related posts:

Art is Joy: Painted Chocolate Peanut Butter & Jelly Cakes

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

Every child is an artist. –Pablo Picasso

Happy Friday to you! This is a bit of a long (but colourful) post, guys, so you may want to grab a bucket of Skittles and a big glass of milk and get comfy. Heck, make it strawberry milk. Simply put, this post makes me happy. Art is joy and, well, cake isn’t half bad either. So, when I can marry most of my favourite things in life into one post, there’s no getting around it making me so happy. Let’s see, we’ve got colour + art + my cakelets + chocolate + cake + peanut butter buttercream . . . yep, that’s pretty much happiness in a nutshell.

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

Art is just a way of life at our house. Aside from my own colourful chaos that has seemingly taken over our home, I have been blessed with two small girls who both embrace art everyday. Sometimes all day. So, even though it adds to that colourful chaos I mentioned, I have started to encourage this love of theirs by leaving appropriate art supplies on every table in the house. And, well, the floor (see below). So as a matter of natural course, I often try to find a way to incorporate baking and caking into their love for arts and crafts. You may remember the Artist Palette & Paintbrush Cookies I created or the Rainbow Doodle Cake that Reese created for her 4th birthday using these pens: Americolor Food Marker Writers- 10 Color Pack. That was the very first time Reese had ever been such a big part of creating her own birthday cake, and she thought that was pretty awesome (as she should have–she’s quite the artist, if you ask me!). Well, I thought it would be super fun for her to do the same type of thing again, but by painting onto a white fondant cake. Since she spends almost all of her waking hours drawing & painting, I knew she’d be pretty enthusiastic about this one.

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

That cake would make even the Tin Man smile, don’t you think?

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

For those who may not be familiar with it, the “paint” is something that is often used in cake decorating for many effects, and is made by mixing non-toxic luster dust or petal dust with either clear lemon extract or vodka (which evaporates quickly). Luster & petal dusts are dry chalky-looking dusts that are sold in wee jars (about 2-4 grams) and come in dozens of colours. They can be used dry by brushing onto fondant and gumpaste (any frosting that is dry to the touch) for touches of colour or shimmer, or as we did here, used wet as “paint.” Although there are many types of dusts with varying shimmer-factor, luster dust is typically the shimmery dust (such as Super Gold 43-1233 Luster Dust 2g) and petal dusts are matte (such as Fuchsia Petal Dust, 4 grams). We used some of each with this painted cake.

Here’s what I was referring to above–even the floor has become a great spot for my little artists. If you happen to follow my Instagram photos, you might recognize this image of my cakelets colouring all over a huge piece of white photographer backdrop paper that had seen better days and I needed to replace. Sending a recycling message feels good too. I was going to save this once they were done, which I still will (I’m a bit nutty about keeping everything they do–I can’t seem to throw any of it away), but I decided to then use it as the surface top for this post’s photoshoot, complete with toddler scribbles and pre-schooler drawings. I love when things work out that way!

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

Because this project is really ideal for preschoolers up to adult, I was going to try to keep little toddler-Neve occupied by having her colour or paint at her own little “station” beside Reese, but there was no way she was letting that go. She wouldn’t leave her older sister’s side (literally) while Reese brainstormed her design. I’m estimating that this had 49% to do with sisterly affection and 51% to do with cake.

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

The longer you let your cake chill before painting, the more firm the buttercream and fondant will be, which is ideal for painting, because the little hands will be pressing into the cake a bit while they work. On a sidenote, contrary to what many will say, you can, and I always do, put your fondant-covered cakes in the refrigator while working on them to firm them up. Otherwise, you will end up with fingerprints and dents in your cake, especially when little ones may not realize.

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

Perhaps this was creative moral support. Or maybe Neve was plotting her cake-tasting plan.

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

An artist at work. I love photographing the kids in more candid situations, as it’s always evident in the photos when they are relaxed and in their element and, most of all, don’t realize they’re being photographed. I think what made this project even more special for her was that it wasn’t her birthday. It wasn’t her sister’s birthday. It wasn’t any holiday at all, but just a regular day.

Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

 Painted Cakes via Sweetapolita

Because the alcohol in the vodka evaporates so quickly, it’s helpful to keep some nearby (and if you are hosting a birthday party and have a houseful of kids, you may or may not want to keep a martini glass nearby) to add a drop or so when needed. It’s best to keep the paint thin enough so that it glides on the cake but not too thin that the colours look diluted, because the best part about these dusts is that the colour is intense. The luster colours have such a lovely shimmer-quality to them, even once dry.

Painted PB&J Cakes via Sweetapolita

So what’s better than a hand-painted cake? A hand painted cake that is rich dark chocolate filled with the fluffiest and most satiny Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream. For the PB&J version, I spread a thin layer of Bonne Maman Wild Blueberry Jam onto the cake before the buttercream. The other cakes I left as simply chocolate & peanut butter.The reason I did Peanut Butter Swiss Buttercream, rather than the more common sugar peanut butter frosting is that I wanted to put a really thick layer of filling and because it’s not too sweet, it really brings out the peanut butter flavour. Peanut butter & meringue? That is so right. Even though it’s not cloying sweet, it’s still ideal for kids, especially with this cake because the fondant is very sweet. I heard Reese tell her dad that “Mommy made an excellent choice with the icing,” so it sounds like this one could be a winner. I think she was just relieved that it didn’t have key lime in it–long story.

Art = Joy!

For those of you who also love all-things-colour, I can’t get enough of Design Seeds. Endless colour inspiration!

I also found this kids’ painting party idea absolutely darling.

Here’s the recipe and info on making these painted cakes:

Paintable Chocolate PB&J Cakes         {click to print all instructions}

Use your favourite chocolate cake recipe baked in 3 separate cake pans. I used this recipe and baked using 3 Fat Daddio’s Anodized Aluminum Oval Cake Pan, 9 Inch x 2 Inch. I put 500 grams/~17 ounces of batter in each, and made some cupcakes with the extra batter. I then sliced each cake in two when frosting. So in this case, I use 3 pans to yield 3 finished cakes ready to paint.

Peanut Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Yield: ~10 cups of buttercream (enough to fill & frost 3 oval 9″ x 6″ cakes)

Ingredients

10 large egg whites (~300 grams/10 ounces)

2.5 cups (500 grams/17 ounces) light brown sugar

3 cups (1.5 lbs/680 grams) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes

2 teaspoons (10 mL) pure vanilla extract (I use Nielsen-Massey Vanillas 8-oz. Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Extract)

3/4 cup (190 mL) Kraft (or other quality brand) smooth peanut butter, or to taste

Method

1. Wipe the bowl and whisk attachment of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and brown sugar and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 140°F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot, about 8 minutes if you used room temperature egg whites. About 12 if they were cold. Just be sure you can’t feel any sugar crystals when you rub a small bit between your fingers.

2. Place the bowl back into the mixer, and with whisk attachment attached, begin to whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10+ minutes or so). *Make sure your meringue is completely cool before adding butter–this may take much longer than you expect, but if the meringue is very stiff and still warm, just turn off mixer and wait until it has cooled. Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing on medium-low and it will come back to smooth).

3. Add vanilla and peanut butter, and continue to beat on low speed until well combined. *It’s also pretty delightful to leave unblended swirls of peanut butter.

Notes:

1. You can easily cut this recipe in half, and essentially it is Brown Sugar Swiss Buttercream with peanut butter whipped in at the end, so you also make it minus the peanut butter, freeze it, and then whip in peanut butter when you’re ready to use. That way you have the option of 2 flavours in your freezer. It keeps frozen for ~2 months.

2. You can make buttercream ahead and keep in an airtight container in refrigerator for up to one week, leaving out at room temperature when needed, re-whipping in mixer for 5 minutes.

3. You can freeze for up to 6-8 weeks. To thaw, place on counter overnight, and rewhip for 5 minutes with paddle attachment in an electric mixer.

4. If not satiny enough upon rewhip, take 1/3 of buttercream and microwave in a microwave-safe container for ~8 seconds, then add back to mixing bowl and remix with remaining buttercream.

5. For more detail about making Swiss Meringue Buttercream, you can find FAQ here and photo tutorial here.

Assembly of the Paintable Chocolate PB&J Cakes (or Chocolate PB Cakes)

1. Wrap & chill cake layers in refrigerator for ~30 minutes.

2. Carefully slice each of the 3 cakes into 2, horizontally, using a very sharp, serrated knife. If your cake has domed, don’t worry about trimming it, as you can put the dome side face-down. Since it’s a 2 layer cake, you don’t want to waste any cake by trimming it away.

3. Place first cake layer on a plate or cake board face up, and spread a thin layer of blueberry (or other desired flavour) jam onto the cake. Then spread a 1″ thick layer of Peanut Butter Swiss Buttercream on top, smoothing with an offset spatula. You can omit the jam, if desired, or do some with and some without.

4. Place top layer cut side down (or up if your cake is domed). Cover with a thin layer of the buttercream using an offset spatula and chill until set, about 30 minutes. You can also place in freezer for about 15 minutes. This seals in all of the crumbs. *You must chill the cake at this point to allow for a smooth, crumb-free top layer of frosting.

5. Once chilled and set, add a thick layer of buttercream, trying to get it as smooth as possible using your offset palette knife.

6. Roll out 1 lb 2oz (~525 grams) of white fondant (I love Satin Ice Rolled Fondant – White – Vanilla – 2.5 kg) on a smooth surface dusted with icing sugar or cornstarch, or you can use a fondant mat (I always use Ateco 24 x 36 Inch Fondant Work Mat) until it’s about 1/8″ thick or a little thicker. If your buttercream isn’t completely smooth, you will want to make the fondant on the slighlty thicker side to mask those imperfections (definitely no thicker than 1/4″). Transfer the rolled fondant onto the cake using a rolling pin and gently lay over the cake. Working quickly, smooth the fondant all over the cake using your hands and/or fondant smoothers (I use Wilton Easy Glide Fondant Smoother), working from the top down. Trim the excess fondant from the bottom of the cake using a small sharp knife. Smooth rough edges with a small palette knife. Chill for at least 1 hour.

7. Take selected lustre dust powders and tap small amount into a paint palette or small ramekins. Add a few drops of clear lemon or vanilla extract and blend with small paintbrush. *You can not use water. You can use clear alcohol, such as vodka, as it evaporates when dry. Once your liquid is added, you now have…edible paint! You will need a paintbrush designated for each colour.

8. Remove cake from refrigerator. The fondant may “sweat” a little, which causes it to be a bit tacky at first, but as long as your home isn’t extremely humid, this will evaporate fairly quickly and be ready for painting.

9. Let the child (0r, ahem, yourself) paint until their heart’s content.

10. Wash brushes, blot with paper towel, and let air dry. Wash paint bowls or palette.

Other colourful ideas:

1. Make mini cakes, say 4″ rounds, and let each child at a birthday party paint their own, then pack it up for them to take home as their “loot bag,” to show their parents.

2. Create an entire party around the painting theme. Art parties are so popular right now, and for good reason. They are awesome!

3. You could make these cookies as party favours.

4. You could create this rainbow cake for the inside of the painted cakes, for a real hit of colour.

5. You could create a mix of colouring and painting sweets for a party using the Americolor Food Marker Writers- 10 Color Pack + edible paints.

Whoa…that was a lot of info in one hit. Feel free to leave any questions below, and, as always, I’d love to hear your comments and/or experiences with this cake.

What would you paint on a pure white porcelain-finish cake?

Good luck & enjoy!



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Glitter Cakes for Wedding Bells Magazine

For my American friends and family, Happy Fourth of July! With all of the buzz surrounding today’s American holiday, and a weekend of celebrating Canada Day in cottage country, I am definitely in celebration mode. What better way to keep the celebration going, than by sharing a preview of my first wedding magazine feature with you — Wedding Bells Fall/Winter 2011 (the issue is not on stands quite yet, but will be on July 11th!). And nothing says wintery celebration better than an abundance of glitter and confetti. When Rosie (yep, that’s her name!) from Wedding Bells asked me to create two jewel-toned, confetti-inspired, glitter-themed cakes, I was so excited (needless to say). I really connected with the theme, and I knew, as I’m sure you would imagine, it would be a truly fun and festive project to be part of.  The key with the cake design was keeping them clean and classic enough to ensure that the glitter was the star of the show, but, of course, super luxe and flirty.

Fun! I kept the large cake pure white with a mosaic of paper-thin sugar discs coated in 6 different jewel-toned shades of glitter (including my beloved 24 karat gold!) on the bottom tier, some simple swags on the middle tier, and a super-glittery sugar ribbon and bow in a custom red-raspberry glitter to finish the top tier. I coated the smaller cake completely using a custom-colour glitter that I created using 8 shades in total to compliment the larger cake, and topped it with 3 sugar cherries coated in the red-raspberry glitter and emerald glitter stems. Simple, but super sparkly!

My cakes were just one part of an entire glitterati story, and I love how it all came together: glittery stationery, centrepieces, favours, and, of course, absolutely stunning and vibrant glitter cupcakes and cookies by the talented Cat from Sugar Baking. Love it all!

Thanks for letting  me share my exciting news with you! I hope you’re having a great week so far, and I’ll be back in just a few days with another recipe to share!

Love, Rosie xo  

*glitterati photos by Jim Norton Photography

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For the Love of Fondant Asparagus (and 8-Layer Cakes)

Fondant Asparagus Cake via Sweetapolita

Well, hello! Please forgive the fact that it’s been 10 days since my last post–I would have shared one sooner, but I swear I’ve been dyeing, rolling, snipping, and dusting fondant asparagus since the last post. If you’ve never seen the earlier version of this cake, then I’m excited to share it’s craziness (and deliciousness) with you for the first time; if you have and you’re wondering why in the world I’ve made it again, well, I couldn’t resist.

The thing is, I’m usually partial to much traditionally prettier, and much less hyper-realistic novelty cakes, but under the circumstances of the first Asparagus Cake, it just made perfect sense to attempt a fondant asparagus wrapped layer cake. After the first time, I somehow fell in love with it’s quirky beauty and unexpected appearance. You can read all about the creation of my first version here (which happened to be one of my very first blog posts!), but I’ll quickly explain that I first made it back in October, for Grant’s gorgeous sister, Mary. She had eaten heaps of asparagus for months, while rigorously training for a fitness competition. I recall a text she sent me a few days before her show, expressing her disgust with eating even one more asparagus, and when I had asked her what she wanted for her first post-show meal,  she said “anything but asparagus!” She also requested that we have any kind of chocolate cake with Swiss meringue buttercream for dessert. At first I started planning a pink, ruffly cake, and then with no warning, it came to me in the middle of the night: whatever it took, I had to conceal her rich chocolate cake and buttercream with a bunch of asparagus made from fondant.

I began working on it the very next morning, and didn’t stop until it looked as realistic as possible. She loved it and the proverbial “icing on the cake” was that she came in first place! Ever since that time, I’ve been eager to create and photograph this cake again, and I thought it would be fun to kick it up a notch this time by building an 8-layer chocolate cake inside, as opposed to the traditional 3-layer version I did originally. Asparagus or not, slicing and serving an 8-layer cake just feels right.

Asparagus via Sweetapolita

Just as I did the first time, I referred to a real bunch (above) of asparagus for inspiration, but, it’s funny — even though they’re green and, well, all vegetable-ish, I see such beauty in them, particularly raw and full of purple highlights. Creating them out of fondant and petal dust is actually very similar to creating hundreds of sugar flowers — each one unique and full of organic details and personality.

Sweetapolita

Little Neve was a trooper through this project, and I’m pretty sure she spent the duration of the week trying to figure out what I was doing. She sat with me in the daytime while I made hundreds of fondant asparagus tips and stalks . . .

Sweetapolita

I’ll give her another year of freedom, but then she’ll be ready for some official fondant-asparagus-training.

Sweetapolita

For now,  just being adorable, making me laugh, and keeping me sane while I dye, roll, cut, snip, and dust for days, will do perfectly fine.

In the works . . . can you believe I actually find building this cake therapeutic?

Fondant Asparagus Cake via Sweetapolita

Fondant Asparagus Cake via Sweetapolita

After a few days, it’s done! I was dying to slice into this because I knew the 8-layer chocolate cake factor was going to make it even crazier looking . . .

Fondant Asparagus Cake via Sweetapolita

And I’m always up for some crazy! Ooh, dramatic desserts will always have my heart. Always. Most of the time when I make chocolate layer cakes, I use my standby Rich Chocolate Cake recipe, which is a one-bowl, moist, dark cake. A few weeks ago for the Inside-Out Neapolitan Cake, I did a southern version of Devil’s Food Cake including butter, mayonnaise, and buttermilk; it was unbelievable! This week, I thought it would be fun to try another Devil’s Food Cake recipe (typically richer than the one-bowl cake and made butter-cake style by creaming sugar, adding wet and dry ingredients separately, etc), so I played around with a more traditional version that didn’t include mayonnaise.

I baked three 8-inch round pans and then sliced each one into 2 for this cake. You may be asking yourself how I get an 8-layer cake with a total of 6 layers, but the truth is I had a layer of chocolate cake I needed to use up, and so I sliced it in two and popped it on top to create 8-layers sandwiched between vanilla swiss meringue buttercream (I should add that I added about 20% less butter this batch, and it was gorgeous; don’t be afraid to play around with your ratios.). I can’t stress enough how quickly you can create a wow-factor by slicing a regular 3-layer cake into a total of 6 layers — it only takes a few extra moments, and it changes the complete dynamic of the cake! It could even be a classic vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream or filling, and once you start stacking layer upon layer, it offers a touch of drama.

Fondant Asparagus Cake via Sweetapolita

Well, the good news for you is that I’ll spare you the step-by-step tutorial on how to make an Asparagus Cake, because I have a feeling that I’m the only one silly enough to spend days making a layer cake so unusual, but I’d love to share this variation of the Devil’s Food Cake I baked for this cake. Its texture is a bit lighter than the southern Devil’s Food Layer Cake, but it’s a gorgeous classic version and divine in its own right.

NEW! How to Make a Fondant Asparagus Cake {a Tutorial}

Happy Mother’s Day!

Dark Devil’s Food Cake            {click here for printable recipe}

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for pans

3/4 cup Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Dark

1/2 cup boiling water

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

4 large eggs, lightly beaten

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

Method

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Butter three 8″ x 2″ round cake pans, line with parchment rounds, and dust with flour, tapping out the excess. Add boiling water to sifted cocoa powder in medium bowl and whisk; set aside to cool.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until lighter in color and slightly increased in volume, 3 to 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add the eggs, one at a time, mixing until each is fully incorporated before adding the next.

Sift the flour and baking soda into a medium bowl. Add the salt to the dry ingredients after sifting and whisk together. Whisk buttermilk into cocoa mixture. Alternate dry ingredients and buttermilk into butter mixture, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated, or finish by hand gently.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. If possible, weigh the batter in each cake pan to ensure even layers.  Smooth with small offset palette knife, and bake for about 35 minutes, rotating once after 20 minutes. Cake is done when toothpick or skewer comes barely clean. Try not to over-bake. I tend to under-bake a few moments, so the skewer is a little bit gummy. This works well for a moist chocolate cake (not vanilla). Let pans cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert cakes onto racks, gently, peeling away parchment rounds. Let cool completely.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Moist Devil’s Food Cake

For Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe, visit the previous post Swiss Meringue Buttercream Demystified

You may also find this previous post helpful 50 Tips for Baking Better Cakes

The Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder (my all-time favourite) is what makes this chocolate cake taste so incredible. You can find it by clicking here: Cacao Barry Cocoa Powder – Extra Dark

Good luck & enjoy!

Love, Rosie xo

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