Saturday, October 22, 2016

Gold Engagement Cake with Peonies – Edible Gold Paint, Gunging and Easy Ruffled Cake Drum


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I’m just a hobby baker, so this 3-tiered cake was one of my most adventurous so far. It doesn’t look very complicated, but I had a few miss-steps and learned some interesting new techniques along the way.



First off the painting of the tiers…

At first I was going to use gold leaf, but after being told that gold leaf wasn't edible I decided to paint on the gold color.  Next obstacle was deciding on what type of color to use. Who knew there were so many options: pearl, luster and disco dust, gels, and airbrush paint. Then the whole edible vs non-toxic issue came up yet again. I didn’t realize that a lot of the accent stuff that is sold for cake decorating is actually not edible. Some dusts are labeled as non-toxic which essentially means it won’t kill you if you eat it, but it is not designed to be consumed.

So after some searching I finally settled on Edible Hybrid Luster Dust by Chef Alan Tetreault. The Chef Tetreault line has lots of gold colors to choose from, and after much thought I finally settled on Soft Gold.  In the end it turned out a little lighter than I was wanted, but I think it still looked okay.

So  to paint on the gold color I mixed the luster dust with vodka to form a thick paste and just started brushing it on.


I wanted the cake to have broad, uneven brush-strokes (like the example the bride-to-be game me), but it didn’t quite come out that way. The paint ended up looking more uniform than I wanted, but it didn’t look too terrible. (Hey the “customer” was getting it for free so she couldn’t complain.) But it still vexes me why I couldn’t get the look I wanted…maybe my paint wasn’t thick enough??? I may try it again on a dummy cake just to see where I went wrong.  I also used this nifty little measuring tool by Wilton to make sure my painted area stayed the same thickness as I went around the cake.  And my Cake Boss Cake Stand/Turntable is so wide and spacious thanks to a gadget by Innovative Sugarworks that expands my turntable to 20".  Don't you just love cake decorating gadgets??!!


The next next new thing I tried was the gumpaste peonies. This was the first time I tried to make realistic looking gumpaste peonies, and they were actually pretty easy to construct. I used a center Styrofoam ball and just glued a bunch of individual peony petals to it. Not hard, but very time consuming. Sorry, I forgot to take pictures as I was making the flowers, but this is the end product.  I also dusted a little of the dry gold luster on the petals to give them some shine.


Next issue was this horrible, yawning gap that showed up after I stacked the cakes.  The example design the  didn’t have a border to hide this kind of flaw, so I was freaking out.  How was I going to hide the huge gap???!!!



But then I remembered a video I saw on the “gunging” technique. In this technique you beat your fondant with milk and vodka until it forms a paste that has the consistency of beaten egg whites. It takes a lot of beating (10-15 minutes), but in the end you get a soft, putty-like mixture that acts like that silicone filler the construction guys use.


You can pipe the gunge into to gaps and then scrape the access off with a straight edge tool. You can also use the gunge to fix nicks and gouges in your fondant. The gunge saved the cake!!


Before:
 And after:

My next dilemma was the unattractive drum at the base of the cake.  My bottom tier was 12 inches and I planned on using a 12 inch drum that would blend into the bottom tier and make it look taller.  Sadly it didn't turn out that way.  In hindsight I realize that I didn't take into account the added thickness from the ganache on the cake, so the cake drum ended up being a 1/2 inch smaller than the tier above it.  Stupid, stupid, me.

You can also see a bit of a bulge on the bottom tier,  Sigh... Nothing I could do about that at this point. The bulge showed up even before I stacked the cakes, so I guess the white cake recipe I used was too fluffy and delicate to handle the weight of three layers plus all the buttercream, ganache, and fondant.


But back to the ugly cake drum problem.  I couldn't fix the bulge, but I could try and fix the base.  I tried a few things: painting it gold, wrapping a gold ribbon around it, adding a ribbon of white fondant, but nothing looked good.  Then I cut out some 1x1 inch squares of fondant and started filling the gap.  I just keep overlapping the squares and working my way around the cake.  And surprise, surprise, it really looked good. They kind-of resembled fancy pleats!  In fact it looked like I had actually planed it!!  I guess necessity really is the mother of invention.



So in the end it, even with my missteps, the cake didn't turn out too bad.   But I really do apologize for the ugly wooden board under the cake.  It was all I had the the house that was large enough to hold the cake.  I was hoping they would have some decorations at the party that I could use to hide the board, but no such luck.  My cake decorating attempts are always filled with misadventures.



Happy Decorating,

Carol




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