Raspberry cupcakes

Raspberry cupcakes

It has been way too long since I made cupcakes, so today I made some simple and tasty ones and delivered them to my sister’s work.  I had some left over raspberry filling from the cake I made a few days ago, so I used it both for filling the cupcakes and for mixing into the swiss meringue buttercream frosting.  Filling them was quite fun – I got to use the long skinny piping tip that came with my set for the first time!  Just fill it with raspberry filling, stick it in to the cupcake, and squeeze!  You can even see the cupcake expand a little.  I started to run out of filling near the end so the one in the picture below is a little skimpy, but you get the idea.
Raspberry cupcakes

The cupcake recipe itself is from Georgetown Cupcakes.  I left out the vanilla bean and added 1/4 tsp rosewater for a very subtle rose taste.  They were very light, fluffy, and tasty – I think I will use this as my default vanilla cupcake recipe from now on.  I overfilled the cupcake liners accidentally so a bunch of them overflowed, but I think if I had put the right amount in I would have gotten about 18 (not 24 like the recipe says).  I got the cupcake liners from Shop Sweet Lulu (although it looks like they no longer have them).

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Tea Party

Cardamom rose petits fours

My sister and I hosted a tea party last weekend.  We sent out invitations folded like tea bags, tea included, to a few friends (in the actual mail!).  We had a lot of fun planning the treats – I made cardamom rose petits fours and little chocolate mousse cups, and my sister made mini cream puff swans and cheese scones.  My sister’s collection of vintage Petalware dishes came in handy, and I picked up some flowers and arranged them for the table (this was actually surprisingly fun – who knew that picking out all your favourite flowers in a shop would make such a pretty bouquet!).

Petalware

It was my first time making petits fours, and I was very happy with how they turned out.  I made a single recipe of Alice Medrich’s hot milk sponge cake in a baking sheet (not sure what dimensions, but the kind that fits in a normal oven), adding freshly ground cardamom and orange zest.  I then made three egg whites worth of swiss meringue buttercream, adding rose water and a small amount of red food colouring.  Then I cut the cake into three rectangles and stacked them with the buttercream in between.  Following the advice of an online video, I put the cake into the fridge with a weight on top for a few hours to make it compact and chilled.  Then, I cut it into 21 squares and poured glaze over each one (just made of icing sugar, milk, and a little vanilla).  The glaze was the most annoying part – I had to keep scraping up the overflow glaze and pushing it through a sieve so I could reuse it.  I watched another video where they froze the cake squares first, and then just dipped them, but I didn’t have the patience to wait for it to freeze – maybe next time.

Cardamom rose petits fours

My original plan was to make candied rose petals, but I couldn’t find any organic roses for this… I thought that non-organic roses might not be super safe since they’re not intended for eating.  So in the end, I found a gum paste recipe online just made of icing sugar, gelatin, and corn syrup.  I added a little red food colouring, rolled it out, cut out and formed the flowers, and let them dry.  This would have been much easier if I had a flower cutter (I was using the large end of a piping tip to cut circles and then forming petals), but you gotta do what you gotta do!  The next day I added pink “petal dust” in the center (edible dust for this exact purpose!), attached pink dragées in the centres and stuck them on the cakes using more glaze.

I made the mousse cups by painting multiple layers of chocolate on the inside of mini muffin cups, refrigerating them, and then peeling off the cups.

Chocolate mousse cups

My sister followed my mom’s recipes for the scones and the cream puff swans, filling the cream puffs with raspberries and whipped cream.  Tasty and super adorable.

Cream puff swans

Cheese and dill scones

The only sad part of the day was before the party, when we were loading the car to head over to my sister’s.  The weekend before, we had spent several hours decorating some pretty pastel cookies.  I had them in a tin and placed them on the car roof while I put everything else in.  I’m sure you can imagine what happened… there were a lot of happy seagulls on 4th avenue that day.  It was especially tragic because we didn’t get any pictures of them.  Oh well, I’ll make them again another time!

Photos taken by Katie Byatte.

The Wedding Cake

The wedding cake

A few weeks ago, my mom and I had the exciting job of making my sister’s wedding cake.  My mom was a chef/baker/caterer for her first career, so she has made many wedding cakes before.  I watched her make one a few months ago for a friend, and this time I decided to get more involved.

This is not the first wedding cake my sister has had.  As a toddler, when my mom made wedding cakes for customers, my sister would ask for a piece, but of course she couldn’t have one.  So for her third birthday, she requested a wedding cake.  My mom delivered:

My sister's third birthday

That’s my sister about to blow out the three candles on her “wedding cake”.  On the top are a pair of little wedding bears that my mom had found at a dollar store.  My sister has kept those bears ever since, and we decided to reuse them (this time with no candles).

Wedding bears

The cake is Alice Medrich’s Hot Milk Sponge.  Each tier has six layers of cake (three rounds each cut in half).  My mom did the actually baking of the cake while I was away for a few days during the critical wedding-preparation week.  I believe she did three batches of the sponge recipe (each batch making one large, one medium, and one small round).  We soaked each layer in a simple syrup with limoncello and lemon juice.  We then layered them alternately with the lemon mousse recipe from Maida Heatter’s Lemon Chiffon Icebox Cake and with white chocolate buttercream (loosely following Sweetapolita‘s swiss meringue buttercream recipe).  When adding the lemon mousse layers, I first piped a ring of buttercream around the edge to act as a dam.  All three of these recipes are delicious and versatile, and my mom and I have both used them for many different desserts.

I didn’t take any photos of the process, but each tier was assembled on a cardboard cake circle.  After doing a crumb coat and final coat of white chocolate buttercream on each tier, I set the bottom tier on a tinfoil-covered piece of plywood.  I then stacked each tier by inserting four dowel pieces into the layer below (there’s an illustration of this here).  My trusty assistant helped me cut the dowels to be exactly flush with the top of the cake tier once inserted (we stuck the dowel in first to mark the right length with a pencil).  I stuck a blob of icing in the center of the four dowels to help glue the next tier on.  Once we stacked all the tiers like this, I did the piping where they joined in order to cover up the crack (and because I thought it would look pretty).  We then carried it very very carefully into the fridge.

Between the reception and dinner, a couple of hours before the cake was going to be served, I added the flowers.  The day before, I had gone to pick them out from our friend who did the bouquets.  I was a bit torn between doing a small cluster of flowers and a big cascade, but as you can see I went big – the flowers were so bright and pretty that I couldn’t resist.  I added dahlias (from a local farm), roses, and little green berries.  I didn’t have much method – I basically started with the biggest blossoms and added them near the bottom, and went from there, filling in all the gaps and making sure the colours were distributed evenly.  I used a skewer to poke a hole in the cake before inserting the flowers.

We also made two sheet cakes (not shown), since there were 160 people and we were worried about the tiered cake being enough.  In the end, we had way too much, and the tiered cake didn’t even get touched – we were giving it away for the next couple of days.

The cake cut beautifully and the servers added a strawberry to each piece.  The lemon mousse is similar in colour to the sponge cake, but you can see it if you look closely.

The wedding cake

The first slice

Photos taken by the awesome Richard So (see his flickr page here).