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A Cake-Decorating Question for the Pros in the Crowd


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My stepdaughter is getting married on Saturday, and asked me to do the cake. It's not going to be anything that really challenges my (modest) cake-decorating capabilities...they spotted this cake on Pinterest and sent it to me as a model:

53456114_10157804050698797_745403531409752064_o.thumb.jpg.4d61485e2294ef0818d6bf0304db3cdb.jpg

 

There aren't any really difficult techniques at play here, and the flowers are Somebody Else's Problem, so my question mostly pertains to the coloring. I already have a pink and a crimson Wilton gel color, which accounts for two of the three.

 

There's a burgundy color available to me, if it's in stock at either of the local stores, but I don't know how close a match that will be. Can any of you tell me whether it's a reasonable approximation of this? If not, my elderly copy of Bo Friberg's Professional Pastry Chef has instructions for making magenta from beets (which I have in my garden) but I don't know how I'd go about incorporating that into my buttercream.

Also I'm curious how to get those relatively bold tints. I assume it comes from using a great gob of the gel in a relatively small quantity of icing?

“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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Basically yeah, a lot of color in a small amount of icing. The colors deepen as it sits, so I would do a trial run and mix them ahead of time to make sure it's the color you want. 

Burgundy from Americolor (not sure about Wilton) doesn't come out looking like what I think it should, so you might have to do some experiments on mixing your colors. 

I would make your darkest color, then take some of that and mix into small amounts of the regular icing to get a lighter tone that's in the same family, unless you want a variety of colors. 

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1 hour ago, RWood said:

Basically yeah, a lot of color in a small amount of icing. The colors deepen as it sits, so I would do a trial run and mix them ahead of time to make sure it's the color you want. 

Burgundy from Americolor (not sure about Wilton) doesn't come out looking like what I think it should, so you might have to do some experiments on mixing your colors. 

I would make your darkest color, then take some of that and mix into small amounts of the regular icing to get a lighter tone that's in the same family, unless you want a variety of colors. 

Yeah, that's pretty much how I saw it going. The smaller top portion (ie, the real cake) will be white blending to pale pink at the bottom; the larger bottom portion (the dummy) will have a pale pink base and I'll do a darker pink, a red and the burgundy. Each of those will have its own full-strength band, but also be mixed into some of the pale pink base coat so I can kind of ease into it.

“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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2 minutes ago, JeanneCake said:

You can add more of the pink to get a vibrant hue....what kind of buttercream are you using?

I was thinking French buttercream. The temperature on Saturday is forecast to be 15C/59F, so that shouldn't be a factor.

“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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53 minutes ago, chromedome said:

I was thinking French buttercream. The temperature on Saturday is forecast to be 15C/59F, so that shouldn't be a factor.

 

Keep in mind that French buttercream with yolks will have a more yellow hue. 

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4 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

I think the intensely colored band on the bottom might be a satin ribbon?


I'd say you're 100% correct. The colors above it disappear behind that hard edge cleanly and it looks like a reflection of a flower on it.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Thanks to all of you for your input. The question of color accuracy was me getting sidetracked on nonessentials, the original point of concern with me was just making the colors vivid.

I have purchased ribbon for the bottom of each layer, having caught that detail at about the 200th inspection of the photo ( :P ). I'm aware that the buttercream will have a yellow hue from the yolks; French is my go-to buttercream, and familiarity was part of the reason for doing it this way. As MokaPot suggested, getting the colors "accurate" is the last thing on my stepdaughter's mind right now (you schedule an outdoor wedding in Atlantic Canada in September at your peril...).

 

So at this point the cakes are all baked, the "dummy" layer is assembled, and I have my first gallon of buttercream in hand and at working temperature. I expect I'll be incommunicado for the next several hours.

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“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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It turned out that my pink gel had gotten a bit lumpy after sitting since last year, and gave streaks through my buttercream. Ordinarily that would have had me fuming, but in this case streaks were consistent with the theme we were looking for so all was well (and I knew enough to microwave my red with a few drops of water before using it).

Finished result:

20200919_154028.thumb.jpg.caeb286fb6523fe988372985e7ade1d6.jpg

 

The bride had already changed out of her dress (temperature was dropping quickly) before they cut into it.

20200919_172904.thumb.jpg.ab51af93cf3a6ed5d070132747ceaf32.jpg

 

The effect wasn't as neat as I'd hoped, but it looked okay. I even dressed up the complementary slab cakes in a similar color scheme.

20200919_000134.thumb.jpg.7e375c13bf44399c19b73cf3eb262486.jpg

 

If I'd thought to do those first, I'd have had a better handle on how to do the main cakes. Aye, well...for someone who does only a few cakes a decade, they came out reasonably well.

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“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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5 hours ago, MokaPot said:

@chromedome, what kind of cake was inside? How did it taste? I love buttercream frosting. Did you add any flavor to it (not that it needs anything)?

I went with (averts eyes) boxed mixes, just to eliminate a few variables that I really didn't want to deal with. The portion of the "show" cake that was actually cake was a DH lemon mix, tarted up (quite literally in this case) with lemon zest and fresh lemon juice, and with more in the buttercream between the layers. I also brushed lemon-scented simple syrup onto each layer before assembling it.

The buttercream was French buttercream, as mentioned upthread, from the Serious Eats recipe, with just a splash of vanilla. I made 4 slab cakes (only 3 fit onto my itty-bitty counter for the photo), just to be sure there'd be lots of cake to go around.

 

One was chocolate, brushed with simple syrup that had a bit of espresso powder in it, and filled in the middle with whipped ganache.
One was butter-pecan, with added pecans (in the cake) and caramel buttercream between the layers. The syrup had a bit of local maple in it as well.
One was carrot cake, with fresh-grated carrot and crushed pineapple added to the mix. No syrup on this one, it was super-moist already.

One was plain ol' white cake, with a layer of tart raspberry preserves in the middle. Plain simple syrup.

They all got milk and butter added, rather than water and vegetable oil, and a splash of decent vanilla extract. So...still box mixes, but with a few upgrades.

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“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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Nice job! I made my last wedding cake when I ended my catering side-hustle several years ago. Other than maybe for very close family or friends, I will never make another wedding cake again (I reserve the right for that to be a lie on the off chance somebody offered me a ridiculous amount of money to make their cake... which isn't gonna happen). :D 

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Image may contain: 2 peopleThe only other one I've made was for my daughter, in 2015 (I know I have photos around here somewhere). I'm a fair baker, but cake decorating requires a whole host of skills that haven't been much exercised since I left culinary school.

 

I have two more stepdaughters, and have already committed to do cakes for them should the day ever come. I also cherish the hope that my daughter will ditch the current husband at some point (long story, don't get me started) and I would be entirely delighted to do a "start fresh" cake for her as well.

ETA: Found a photo. Not a good one, but such is life.

12118598_10206724843613137_281230303676791621_n.jpg.491f67f55dbd8a097adf03a3cafd7eea.jpg

 

I piped over 300 practice roses to get a couple of dozen "keepers" to go in the cake.

12094813_10206678188966800_4356460432388993687_o.jpg.032eca841de8f78ce894f81435e45562.jpg

Edited by chromedome (log)
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“What is called sound economics is very often what mirrors the needs of the respectably affluent.” - John Kenneth Galbraith

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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4 hours ago, chromedome said:

I piped over 300 practice roses to get a couple of dozen "keepers" to go in the cake.

 

That's fatherly love!

 

 

 

4 hours ago, chromedome said:

I also cherish the hope that my daughter will ditch the current husband at some point

 

You could choose the Italian way. Well, one of the many.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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Teo

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