Always trying to be classy, I designed a high-tea-like feast centred around sugar! I wanted to use my recently-aquired fondant skills and buttercream designs to get more practice and please a crowd, so I planned three cakey items: a buttercream rosette-decorated chocolate cake, a simple white choc-iced carrot cake, and rhubarb cupcakes with floral fondant decorations. For the 'extras', I had a failed attempt at macaroons (however, you may have noticed that I do not equate 'fail' to 'inedible' so I served them up as meringue bites anyway!) and made a successful batch of fig and ginger slice.
I orientated the rosettes in each row in the opposite direction to the ones below them (i.e. I piped in the opposite direction) because I think that it emphasises the slight colour intensity change - and I like to add interest :-) To get the 'ombre' colour change, you start with a small portion of buttercream coloured as dark as you want to go, use it for the bottom row of rosettes, and with (hopefully!) the last bit of that icing, add a whole blob of uncoloured icing and mix to get your next shade lighter.
You'd be amazed at how little coloured icing you start with for each consecutive row - colouring goes a long way! I used Wilton's gel colouring in 'creamy peach'. The lighter shades look more orange-y due to the natural yellow of NZ butter! This can be fixed a bit by using a shortening (Crisco, Kremelta, Chefade, etc) to replace some of the butter in the icing.
I wish I'd been able to take some shots of the inside of these cakes, but I was pretty busy being farewelled and all...
The macaroons, well, I'm probably not the expert on those. I had two goes, being careful with everything from ingredients to macaroonage (the technique for folding all the ingredients together), so I have no choice but to blame my tools and say that my very basic oven could not hack it. The one other time I have made macaroons they were perfect, and I wasn't nearly as careful but I DID have a fan bake oven to use at the time. Meh. People still ate them, and they were gluten-free. I used Christine's recipe from her inspiring blog, 1001 Makron - yes, that is my question in the comments for her base recipe post; it's really nice to have some interaction in the cold, hard world of blogging (hint hint!!! ;-)
These cupcakes were a bit too numerous for all the other baked goods on offer, but they were eaten up as leftovers (who knew that rhubarb was a favourite of architects!). I adapted Julie Le Clerc's vanilla cupcakes recipe by adding some rhubarb - a couple of cups, chopped and 'marinated' in castor sugar in the fridge. The icing is the simple buttercream recipe used here and the fondant flowers I covered in this post.
I think that's all - oh wait! The ginger fig slice! I LOVE ginger slice, with a love that probably (just) tops my love of brownie. All I did was use the Edmonds Ginger Crunch recipe (which Chelsea Sugar appear to have permission to publish in that link!) and added a cup of chopped dried figs. Crystallized ginger would also go nicely in the topping. When I make ginger crunch, I at least double the topping ingredient quantities and use a good quality butter (so that it sets well), and sometimes halve the base quantities using a margarine instead (so that it doesn't set so well!). Goes nicely in a high tea set-up :-)
Mmmm... my mouth waters at the memory! When you have to say goodbye, sometimes cake is the only way to say it ;-)
By the way... you may have noticed that I've started to watermark some of my images with the blog's URL. I'm doing this in particular for the one-of-a-kind, special items that I make (not many at present, but hopefully a growing number) after reading this interesting post about copyright for images. Since my blog is being accessed around the world (hi overseas friends!) I'd love to have people come back to the source to check out where the random images spinning around the web come from. And if one day I ever want to make a dollar out of this, that's the way to play the game.
Happy baking, irrepressible ones! xo