Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Black and White and Red All Over

  In my line of work I meet all kinds of couples who are about to embark on a new life together, and believe me, I’ve seen some diverse and unlikely pairs- matches that my great-grandmother would never have conceived of, including my own.  Background, mother tongue, age, nationality- here in the East Village, it’s been the rare wedding cake I’ve made for a couple that shares even one of these characteristics among them, and it thrills me to see what new cultural mixes are being whipped up right before my very eyes. 
  So what brings two people together?  There are the obvious answers: attraction, similar interests, shared experiences… sheer proximity.  We all know that life can be tough, so there’s a measure of comfort in the idea that someone out there is contractually bound to help you out for better or worse so long as you both shall live.  And what keeps two people together?  That is a question I can only begin to answer, but it seems to boil down to this: mutual willingness.  Every day I meet more fresh couples who are about declare their love and commitment in front of everyone, who are ready to say out loud: I do if you do.  Getting to know these couples in love is one of my favorite things about my job- it’s exciting and inspiring to witness the birth of a union.
  Last weekend’s adorable couple was as visually diverse as they come- the bride was an Irish lass from Galway and the groom a dashing young man who hailed from Peru.  They choose to celebrate their wedding day at the New Leaf Café in Fort Tryon Park with possibly the most American of flavor combinations- Red Velvet cupcakes filled with cream cheese frosting and topped with whipped vanilla buttercream.  I baked them in black papers and finished each cupcake with a cupped black fondant blossom with little edible pearl centers.  Emma and Cesar also wanted a cake for slicing, so I did a small square covered with white fondant and decorated with the same black flower theme.

  Although I have developed a pretty delicious recipe for Red Velvet, it usually isn’t my favorite to make due to the copious amounts of food color I have to add.  (Yes, food color.  What did you think made it red?)  It ruins the flavor in my opinion, though people don’t seem to mind...  This time, I subbed a rehydrated beet powder for a good portion of the red gel paste and I was happy with the results.  The beet coloring deepened the redness and I was left with just a hint of that chemical taste.

  Meanwhile, I worked on the flowers.  Using a small metal cutter, I punched out a few flowers at a time and used my ball tool to thin the petals and cup each blossom.  

Then I placed the flowers in a drying tray to hold their shapes and let them harden overnight.

The next day, I glued edible pearls to the centers and dusted each blossom with iridescent dark blue shimmer to bring out the highlights.

I punched a hole in each cupcake, then filled them with a tangy sweet cream cheese frosting.  I topped each with a swirl of vanilla buttercream and one of the sugar blossoms.

  I baked a 7” square red velvet cake and I filled it and finished the sides with buttercream.  I rolled out a piece of white fondant and covered the cake, then decorated with the black flowers to match the cupcakes.

Satin Ice, my favorite brand of fondant.

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