Cheese Cake, Pt. 2: Embellishments

I had looked online for decorating ideas while brainstorming the cheese cake. Most of them used grape bunches, which makes sense. I didn’t know how well a bunch of grapes would sit on the marzipan covered in icing sugar, it seemed a bit risky. I saw several, though, with frosted grapes. I thought that might be a better option. I also thought the candied appearance of the grapes would make it more obvious that it was a cake as opposed to real cheese. I looked up the instructions and made a test batch. Each grape had to be brushed with egg white, but for food safety purposes I opted to mix up some meringue powder instead, then sprinkled with superfine sugar and left to dry. They came out very nice, a juicy grape with a crisp sweet coating on it. They couldn’t be refrigerated, because when you take them out of the fridge the condensation would dissolve the meringue and sugar and leave the grapes soggy. For the final cake I made them the night before the wedding, and had each grape on a toothpick. This made it easier for them to dry without touching each other, and then I could just stick the toothpicks into the cake to keep them in place.

I had some marzipan leftover from various test cakes, so I used the odds and ends to make some ‘crackers.’ I rolled out the marzipan and used a rectangle cookie cutter to cut some of them. In order to get the rounded sides of the crackers I placed a piece of plastic bag over the marzipan and cut them through the plastic. This rounds down the edges. Then I used a toothpick to poke little holes, again through the plastic, and finally used a fork to go around the outside edges. For the round crackers I just used a fluted round cookie cutter, and again used plastic to cut it and poke the holes. As they dried I sprinkled some sugar on to look like they had salted tops. I made the crackers about a week in advance so they would have time to harden and hopefully not bend over each other in the final presentation.

I wanted a cake topper and thought that a couple wine glasses with wine would be appropriate. Full sized wine glasses would be too big, so I looked for a couple mini wine glasses, which were easily found at Value Village. I didn’t want to put actual wine in, just in case anything spilled, but I wanted something in the glasses. My friend, Ms. Adventures in Baking, suggested colouring some clear piping gel, so that’s what I did. It was tricky to keep small bubbles from getting in as I mixed, but it came out fairly well.

And lastly, instead of using a regular cake board I asked my Father-in-law if he could make a large round cutting board at his pattern making business on which the cake could sit. It was absolutely beautiful, the perfect base for the cheese. The final embellishment was a cheese knife that could be used to cut the cake; decorative and functional, just the right touch.

Baking - Desserts, Decorating

Cheese Wedding Cake

Okay, so it’s been another long stretch since my last post, but today’s post is so exciting that I’m hoping I’ll be forgiven for slacking off on the blog front.

A while back some good friends asked me if I would make their wedding cake. I was very excited, and somewhat intimidated, by the idea. I never really wanted to get into wedding cakes, too much pressure. But for friends I’m always willing to make exceptions, especially when they give me free reign on the design!

I brainstormed several possibilities, and in consultation with them finally settled on a cheese cake. Not a cheesecake with cream cheese; and not a stack of actual cheese, tiered up like a cake; but a stack of cakes that would look like wheels of cheese. They love cheese (who doesn’t?!), so I thought it would be very fitting for their celebration.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to do several posts about this cake. Since this was my first wedding cake, which is a big project, I tried to document each step and test along the way, and I thought it would be fun to post about it so you can see what all goes into designing and making the perfect cake.

I feel incredibly lucky to have such supportive friends, and I am grateful that they gave me the chance to test and expand my baking experience!

Baking - Desserts, Decorating

Rocky Mountain Cake

My brother lives on the west coast and got married there in the fall; but he and my new sister-in-law decided to have a reception out here in the east this spring so that those who couldn’t make the trek would still be able to celebrate with them. As soon as plans were in the works I offered to make a cake. They gave me free reign on the design, so I set to brainstorming and thought that a mountain would be a good representation for them.

At first I wanted to make a cake that was solely a mountain. When I started to think about the logistics of different cake pan sizes and stacking them all up, and then how to cut a cake that high, I decided to brainstorm a bit more. I settled on a slab cake that I could build a small mountain upon at one corner.

I used one of my favourite cake recipes, a chocolate stout cake. I made three small oval cakes to stack for the mountains, then a regular rectangle pan for the slab. I frosted between the mountain layers, and then used a small knife to sculpt the shape of the mountains. And once it was set up on the corner of the cake the rest of the icing was pretty straightforward: grey mountains with white snowy peaks (coarse sugar to make the snow sparkle), a small river flowing down from the mountains, and green grass perfect for a picnic.

Then came the more tedious part. I had a bit of sugar paste left from a previous project, so I used that for the blanket because I wanted a classic red and white checkered picnic blanket. I wove the red and white strips together and flattened it with a rolling pin to get it nice and even. The rest of the decorations were molded out of marzipan. I tried a new technique for the trees, by shaping a cone, then using scissors to gradually snip down the entire shape. I was very happy with how they turned out.

The cake was a big hit at the reception, and I am so glad I had the opportunity to add to the celebration in that way! If you’re interested in the cake recipe you can find it by clicking here. (I used a standard butter cream for the frosting, not the one listed with the cake recipe.)