Baking - Desserts, Decorating

All Natural Garden Cake

Last week I was testing buttercreams, and this week I got to put them to use. The base was a chocolate beer cake, made with a local micro-brew porter, which gave the cake a subtle coffee flavour.

Finished cake from the top.

I was making a garden cake and wanted to use only natural colourings in the decoration. I needed green for the grass, so used spinach juice to colour the icing (using the Ermine frosting recipe). The recipe called for one cup of whole milk, so I used 3/4 cup of milk and 1/4 cup spinach juice. It was a fairly pale shade of green, but looked much better, in my mind, than most chemical colours.

I made little vegetables out of marzipan to plant on top of the cake, and for those I used blackberry and blueberry juice (beets), carrot juice (carrots), turmeric (yellow zucchini) and spinach juice (lettuce and leaves). I also added a sprig of fresh parsley to the top of the carrots and a sprig of fresh oregano to the beets for the greens of each.

Colouring the marzipan was a bit of a challenge, because you need a thick consistency in order to blend it in well, and juices are not thick! I added a bit of tapioca starch to each and heated them to thicken, and then was able to blend them in quite easily.

I did use a couple of candies (pumpkins and strawberries) which would not qualify as natural, but the majority of the cake was. It was a fun project to work on. I was glad to be able to experiment more with the natural colourings, and to have had such success with them.