Having spent so much of the last few weeks in front of a computer, I am just itching to get back to the kitchen. What odd is, where I formerly would focus mainly on cooking, I recently have had a pull towards baking. I think I have this blog to thank for that. My sweet tooth is a little under-active, so I've never really had too much cause to bake before (unless it's savory). Being able to share baking on Peas Love Carrots changes everything, however. I always had an interest in cake decorating, and now I'm free to play with it!
I've been wanting to do something with flower waters, where you know what flavors you have by the type of flower on the top. I modeled the flowers after the beautiful carvings I've seen all around Mexico, so often featuring the vibrant blues and folks-y shapes. I love them!
Finding myself with an actual free day yesterday, I decided to dive right in... and make fondant! Fondant is really one of the coolest, most versatile cake "frosting" out there, but it's usually not terribly tasty. Pre-made brands, like Wilton, give you convenience, but it tastes a little... off. Marshmallow fondant is easy to make, and tastes pretty good, too.
For a large batch (you can refrigerate unused portions for months) you'll need...
1 16 ounce bag on mini marshmallows
2-4 tablespoons of water
2 pounds (one standard bag) of powdered sugar
Vegetable shortening to coat hands and finished fondant
Cornstarch for rolling
Place marshmallows in largest bowl that fits in your microwave and toss along with 2 tablespoons water. Microwave on high for 30 seconds, remove and stir. Repeat until marshmallows are completely melted and almost soupy (about 2.5 minutes).
With a wooden spoon (it's very hot, don't touch it with bare hands yet), begin folding in powdered sugar at about 1 cup at a time. You may not use all the of sugar. You can add a flavor oil now if you like, such as orange or almond. Use the spoon as much as possible to incorporate the mixture, then grease hand liberally with shortening. Test to make sure the mixture is cool enough to handle, then begin kneading. I suggest doing this right in the bowl, but you can also turn the dough out onto a surface, just grease it first! Knead until smooth and pulls into elastic ribbons (about 8 minutes). If it tears easily, it's too dry. Add a teaspoon of water at a time, kneading in between, until desired elasticity is achieved.
Divide out the portion of fondant you need, and coat the remain amount with a thin layer of shortening. Double-wrap in plastic and keep in a zip top bag with as little air in it as possible. It can be stored in the refrigerator for several months. If it becomes to dry, microwave for 5 - 10 seconds. Be careful, it may be hot after this.
Doesn't it sort of look like a little baby bird waiting to be fed? Didn't notice it until the picture...
To roll fondant: Sprinkle a small amount of cornstarch as you would flour and roll out to desired thinness.
To color fondant: I find it easiest to color it after making it, as there's often several colors you want one batch to be. Also, over time colors can change/darken so coloring when needed is best. Add a couple of drops of good gel food coloring to the dough at a time, kneading and assessing the color. Note: I suggest wearing food-grade gloves while doing this, as good food colors can stain your hands. If you don't use them, scrubbing hands with exfoliating products should remove dye color with a little patience.
To make light blue green: use a 2-1 ratio of blue to green food color
To make orange: 2-1 ratio of red to yellow food color
To make green: 4-1 ratio of green to brown food color(this makes a more olive green - you can just use green color, too)
To make the cupcakes (recipe adapted from King Arthur Flour basic golden vanilla)...
24 medium cupcakes
What you need...
2 cups sugar
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter (softened)
4 large eggs
To make it orange blossom-flavored
Add 1 tablespoon orange blossom water
Zest of one orange
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
To make it rosewater-flavored
Add 1 tablespoons rosewater
1 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons cinnamon
(to make half and half, just divide the batter and halve the flavoring)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cupcake tins with paper.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.
Add buter and beat with hand or stand mixer on low until it resembles sand.
Combine milk and desired flower flavorings. Beat on low for 30 seconds then on medium for 30 seconds, scraping the sides.
With mixer still on low, add eggs, one at a time. Scrape bowl again and beat another 30 seconds on medium high.
Transfer batter to cupcake tins - a little more than 1/4 cupfuls each (you want them to have big tops). To just a little under the cupcake tin rims
Bake for 23 - 25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove and allow to cool before removing from pans.
To decorate your cupcakes you'll need...
Buttercream frosting to coat cupcake tops before fondant, and to secure flowers (I use premade with a little honey beat in for better flavor)
Light blue fondant for tops
White fondant to make orange blossoms
Golden dragees for the orange blossom centers
Edible markers (optional) to add detail to leaves and roses
Various colored fondants for roses
Tips for making blue tops...
Divide your dough into the number of cupcakes you have, and roll those sections into balls to easily make rounds
Coat the tops with a small amount of buttercream to act as glue, and to fill in or balance out the top (add more to one side if it's lopsided)
After adding the rolled fondant top, trim the edges of the round so that it just wraps under the lip of the cupcake top - tuck under and smooth as you go
Cut a conical hole in the center to attach roses - add a small amount of buttercream to the "stem", then fit it into the hole
Secure all leaves and flowers with a tiny amount of buttercream and a toothpick or knife
Tips for making roses...
Start with a small strip and roll a rosebud, then hand form individual petals to attach at the "stem"
Round and smooth the edges as you go
Use a little yellow and red food safe marker to add detail to roses - then blot with damp paper towel to blend
Tips for making the orange blossoms...
Find a picuture of blossoms to work off of, and roll out your white fondant and cut free-hand to size
Alternately, use a mini cookie cutter that is star or starfish-shaped like this one
Attach dragees to centers with a tiny amount of buttercream on a toothpick
Tips for making leaves
Roll out green fondant and find pictures of leaves you'd like to make, or use various cutters
Use green edible marker to make leaf veins - blot with damp paper towel to blend