Lemon-blueberry cake and brush embroidery cookies for Catherine

Lemon-blueberry wedding cake

This post is coming all the way from France!   I am on vacation with my mom, and we are on the train travelling from Paris to a little town called Labrugiuere.  Once I have internet access I’ll put this up but I figured since I have the time now, I might as well write it.  Our few days in Paris were full of pastry and excellent bread, as well as important landmarks of course.  I think I won’t be posting anything else for quite a while, since we’re just doing a lot of eating and no baking!

The cake and cookies in this post were made for my sister’s friend Catherine, who got married a couple of weeks ago.  She had seen some of my other baking and requested some for her wedding.  She was the easiest person to bake for – she basically told me to make whatever I wanted!  The wedding had a dessert buffet so I decided to make a cake and some fancy sugar cookies to add to the table.  Catherine really liked the brush embroidery cookies I made previously, so I made more of those, but in three shades of blue/green for the background.  It’s a bit hard to tell from the photo, but if you look closely you’ll see mossy green, baby blue, and teal.  I chose them to roughly match the colours in the rest of the wedding.

Brush embroidery cookies

The cake was a lot of fun to plan and bake.  I wanted to make something with summery flavours, so I chose lemon and blueberry, with hints of lavender, mascarpone, and honey.  The cake layers were once again Alice Medrich’s hot milk sponge cake.  I made a double batch, also adding about two tablespoons of lemon zest, and divided it between three nine-inch cake pans.  After they were baked, I split each in half to make two layers (six in total).

I consulted one of my favourite food blogs, Annie’s Eats, for the filling components.  Inspired by her blueberry-lavender-honey jam, I made a blueberry lavender filling using this recipe and replacing some of the sugar with honey (I wrote down the exact recipe I used if anyone is interested).  It was super delicious, I think my favourite part of the cake.  The lavender was noticeable and went very well with the blueberry, but it wasn’t overpowering or perfume-y.  Some other time I think I’ll have to make some actually blueberry-lavender jam just to spread on toast.  This filling wasn’t quite jam – it was fairly thick but used cornstarch to set, which might be a little odd in jam.

For the other filling, I started to use the lemon-mascarpone filling recipe from Annie’s Eats, but then pretty much stopped following it.  I made some lemon curd, since I had some extra yolks in the fridge.  Then I creamed together mascarpone and butter, and added in icing sugar, lemon curd, honey, and possibly some other things that I don’t remember.  I then folded in whipped cream.  I originally steeped lavender in cream, strained it out, and then tried to whip that, but for some reason it just didn’t whip.  So I just used regular cream.

I then made some swiss meringue buttercream for the frosting, using a little less sugar than usual, and adding honey and vanilla at the end (I also wrote down this recipe if anyone is interested).  This was very tasty, although the honey flavour was quite subtle.

While assembling the cake, I piped rings of buttercream around the perimeter of the cake layers to act as a dam before adding the fillings.  I did cake, lemon, cake, blueberry, cake, lemon, cake, blueberry, cake, lemon, cake (if that makes any sense).  Then I coated the whole thing in the honey buttercream.

I had been really keen to decorate the cake with fresh flowers, but I didn’t manage to get my hands on any organic ones.  Everything I read online says to only use organic flowers for cake decorating if they will be in contact with the cake, since non-organic  ones are not intended for consumption and often sprayed with chemicals.  The farmer’s markets seem to have a few organic flowers at the vegetable stands, but the timing just didn’t work out (I wanted to buy them at most one day in advance so they would last until the wedding).  Anyway, in the end I used wafer paper to make some flowers.  This is a very thin, edible paper made of potato starch that is pretty trendy for making cake decorations.  I didn’t have any of the special tools, but managed to imitate an “open peony” I saw online.  I brushed green and pink petal dust on (my sister helped with that) and then stuck some coloured dragées in the middle using royal icing.

My sister made the cake topper out of wood using the laser cutter at her work.  Catherine and her husband are avid swing dancers, so it seemed like the perfect addition.  We hot-glued toothpicks to the bottom and it stuck in easily.

My sister’s reports indicate that the cake was tasty!  So I call that a success.

Wafer paper flowers

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Pastel sugar cookies

Pastel sugar cookies

These cookies were based on some I found on Pinterest, from a wedding magazine called Utterly Engaged.  My sister and I made cookies like this before, the ones that came to a tragic end as I described before.  Anyway, here are the pastel cookies, Mk. 2!  I mixed the icing to between piping consistency and flood consistency (maybe shampoo-like consistency).  This allowed me to just mix one consistency of icing for each colour, and use it for both flooding and adding on details.  Flooding the cookies like this without outlining first doesn’t look quite as tidy, but sometimes you just don’t want to mix any more icing!  I loaded it into piping bags with all the round tips I could find, and just went at it.  After flooding the cookies, I added dots of other colours, dragging a toothpick through some to marble them.  I especially like the big blue cookie that’s sitting on top in the above photo.  I made the flower in the center by piping big white dots, then adding smaller pink dots over top.  Then I dragged a toothpick through, starting in the white dot and moving through the pink one.
Pastel sugar cookies

Golden bee cookies

Golden bee cookies

Here are some bee-themed cookies that I made yesterday.  I had been planning to make these for a while… I had an image of the circular ones in my head.  I used my bee cookie cutter for some of them as a bit of an after thought, but I actually like those ones just as much.

I made the little golden bees by piping them with royal icing on parchment paper.  I did this in stages so there would be some definition between the different parts; I did the head and abdomen first, then filled in the middle bit (the thorax), and then added the top wings, and then the  bottom wings.  In between I let them partially dry so that the different parts wouldn’t run together.  Once they were completely dry, I mixed some edible gold glitter with vodka and painted that over top in two coats, then peeled them off the parchment and stuck them to the cookies with a little more icing.

I used yellow icing to pipe the little bees, which gave them a pretty intense gold colour.  In retrospect, maybe I should have just used white icing, so they would match the gold details on the rest of the cookie.  I think they’re pretty cute though!  Especially posed on this saucer.

Golden bee cookies

Hummingbird cookies

Hummingbird and flower cookiesWith all my new free time, I’ve been doing a lot more baking!  I made these hummingbird cookies just because I had a hummingbird cookie cutter.  I decided to do a stained glass style, by piping black outlines and then filling in the gaps with coloured icing.  I did a few flowers as well.  I had some problems with “cratering”, where the icing collapses as it dries in small areas.  Although I’m not sure why it happens, I followed the advice online and started drying them in front of a fan, which seemed to solve the problem (see the top right hummingbird, which dried in front of the fan, versus the one below it, which didn’t).

Anyway, I’m quite happy with them!  Expect more posts in the near future since I’m on a four-month vacation!

Hummingbird and flower cookies

Colourful dot cookies

Cookie gift

Friday was a big milestone for me – the last class of my degree!  I still have final exams and a project to finish, but I’m getting closer!  I decided to bake cookies this weekend and give them to one of my professors as a thank-you for his help.  I was inspired by these colourful cookies but had a frustrating time trying to reproduce them.  I don’t have a cookie stencil, so I was trying to get the same effect with piping, but the geometric designs just looked kind of messy free-hand.  I decided to go with simpler designs mostly made up of dots.

I got the cute cookie box and ribbon from a neat craft supply store called Urban Source.  They have tons of cute boxes and bags like this that are perfect for giving away baking, and I had a lot of fun picking them out!  The box fits two cookies stacked, so I included the two below.

Decorated sugar cookies

Winter Tree Cookies and Chocolate Snowflakes

Winter forest cookies

I had a lot of ideas for Christmas cookies this year since it’s the first year I’ve gotten really into decorating cookies.  I decided that all my ideas would go nicely as a group, since they were all forest-themed.  The design for the trees and birds are from this post on sweetsugarbelle’s blog, and I had seen the pine cones here.  I also made some snowflakes as part of a present for my dad (see below).  I wanted the background colour of the snowflakes to be dark to contrast with the icing, but I’m not particularly into gingerbread cookies.  Then I remembered saving sweetapolita’s chocolate sugar cookie recipe, and it seemed like the perfect solution.  I’m not sure how I feel about the recipe – the re-rolled cookies seemed a little tough, and I’m not sure if I got the baking time quite right since it was hard to tell from the appearance whether they were done.  I might experiment with it a bit more or try a new recipe.
Winter forest cookiesChocolate snowflakes

Dragon Cookies

Dragon Cookies

For my birthday this year, my awesome mother got me a ton of new baking supplies, including a box full of cookie cutters.  One of those was a dragon shape, so this weekend I decided to take a break from studying and school projects and make some dragons.

Dragon Cookies

Dragon CookiesYou can see there’s a little bit of “cratering” on the limbs of the red dragons.  According to sweetsugarbelle’s blog this might be due to the icing being too thin.  I don’t know exactly why that happened with the red icing and not the green, but oh well!  I think they look pretty cool anyway.