Saturday, 14 February 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Cake decorating has never been my forte but I am starting to appreciate it as a form of art. Modelling with sugar paste (aka rolled fondant, pastillage, plastic icing) is like sculpting with clay - it requires getting proportions right and it helps if you have the ability to visualise form and structure without having to physically see it. Although not entirely necessary, it also helps if you have the steady hands of a watchmaker. Now, I like to consider that I have a good pair of hands but for the love of all things beautiful, when it comes to working with fine details, my fingers become clumsy sausages.

Then there is piping with icing. Where do I begin? My friend R whom I went to cooking school with used to encourage me endlessly to practice the skill of piping with icing and it will become as natural as writing with a pen. I avoided it like the plague. It never really interest me - I never thought of becoming a patissier - at least not in a patisserie. So now, when I see someone execute an arabesque or fleur de lis or even a simple rosette with such finesse and perfection, I turn green with envy.

So this morning, I decided to face my cake decorating demons and tackle them one at a time with these romantic themed cupcakes, since it is Valentine's Day. Here's a breakdown of what I did:

  • Baked 12 cupcakes - lemon flavoured, if you were wondering
  • While cupcakes were baking, I started: cutting out heart shape fondant motifs with cookie cutters and roses of various sizes, allowing them to dry and harden
  • Made a small batch of royal icing and practiced piping daisies and those little white flowers (I dont know what they are called but they are usually used as fillers to make a bouquet look less sparse)
  • Made vanilla flavoured Italian buttercream, tinting half of it dusty pink (for that romantic, antiquey look) and leaving the remainder white (ivory actually)
  • While cupcakes cooled on a wire rack, I made a quick sketch of how I wanted to decorate them - I find this step helps me greatly as I suffer from brain scatter from time to time. It also helps coordinate the design and colour of choice
  • Masked cakes with buttercream and decorated with sugar motifs.

From start to finish, these took me about 4 hours to complete but to be honest, I was actually enjoying myself so much I hadn't noticed. Now, I am staring at them sitting pretty on a cake stand and wondering who to give them to...


Sugar Chef said...

Beautiful cupcakes and decorating. I want one, too bad I live so far away. Glad to see your baking now that your home.

Li said...

Hi Sugar Chef,
Thanks :) Shame they wouldnt survive the post, I would love to send you some.
Yeah, just little baking projects. E doesnt want too many baked products hanging around.

Eunice said...

Li they are so beautiful! I haven't used Italian Buttercream or Swiss buttercream. Would you care to share your recipe with us? I'm always afraid of trying untested frosting recipes because of the sweetness! Your consistency looks wonderful!

By the way, which piping tip did you use for the rosettes? They are lovely!

Sophie said...

My goodness, they are truly gorgeous! The ones with the pink swirls/roses are especially cute :).