September: UltraViolet!

September’s cake celebrated the first birthday of our awesome little girl, Violet. Obviously the cake was going to be purple, and I figured something flowery would be fun, maybe rosettes.

Other than that, I had basically no inspiration for the shape, design, or flavor of the cake. Her birthday was on a football Saturday and the party was Sunday, so I figured cupcakes for the tailgate Saturday would be appropriate, and a full cake on Sunday. That quantity made it easy to justify two flavors of cake. After much consideration for flavors and logistics, I went with carrot and red velvet. I had delicious recipes for both, and they both take cream cheese frosting, which would make the implementation a little easier.

Great. Now about the design…

The gum paste flowers went so well back in May, I thought maybe I could make a gum paste violet as a topper. But of course any cutters for violets would be real-life sized, which means I’d have to make three hundred of them to cover a 9-inch cake. I wondered if I could pull off a larger-than-life violet.

I had remembered back in the early summer to take a photo of the violets blooming in our back yard for reference.

Blue violets in bloom
Blue violets in bloom

And I have a 3-year-old, which also means I had some materials available for a proof-of-concept.

violetProofOfConcept

That would work.

I also had some royal icing left in the freezer from the wedding cookies. A little Wilton violet gel food coloring, some extra powdered sugar to stiffen it up, and a few minutes of watching youTube videos of people piping royal icing velvets, and I was good to go.

You can buy a template for these that would probably make them easier to create, but I am cheap and also figured that real flowers aren't perfect anyway, so I freehanded it.

You can buy a template for these that would probably make them easier to create, but I am cheap and also figured that real flowers aren’t perfect anyway, so I freehanded it. The flower is five petals, two larger (π/2 radians) and three smaller (π/3 radians). Some turned out better than others, but I quickly churned out enough of them that I had plenty.

Great. Plenty for… what?

Yeah, I still had no idea what shape to make the cake. A tiered cake seemed fun but would be too much cake (and not enough cupcakes). Finally I just made some cakes and figured it’d all work out.

violetVelvetBatter

Violet Velvet Cake

I remember being somewhat disappointed when I found out that red velvet cake was only red because of the large amount of food coloring that goes into the batter. Generally I omit it, because who cares, but it occurred to me while I was mixing up this batter that I did suddenly have a lot of violet food coloring…

Actually I second guessed myself and put red in, then added blue, then added violet. So it was purple-ish. Close enough.

The recipe itself is a mashup of several red velvet recipes I’ve tried before, so much so that it doesn’t actually resemble any of them. So here’s the debut of Violet Velvet Cake! The combination of buttermilk and yogurt make the cake super moist, but it is still light enough that it works with the heavy cream cheese frosting. It was a huge hit.

Assembly

By the time I got everything out of the oven, I had two 9-inch rounds, four 4-inch rounds, and a bunch of cupcakes. I decided not to tier them. Instead I made a basic layer cake with the 9-inch rounds and did an ombre rosette effect around the sides.

That required a little bit of practice with my new size 1M tip, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly.

cupcakeTechnique
I practiced these on parchment paper so I could just scrape the frosting back into the bag and reuse it once I mastered the technique.

I decided to do the sides but not the top of the cake. I was going to leave the top plain buttercream, but it looked incomplete, so as usual, I solved the problem with melted (white) chocolate. Rather than risk freehanding the text again, I traced it in royal icing onto parchment and transferred it. As a bonus, that let me use the same font as the invitation, a small detail that probably only I noticed (which is fine).

Of course it was pretty hot that day, so the frosting was soft, and of course when I went to put it in the fridge I smashed the cake cover into the side, smushing several rosettes.

smushedSwirls

So before the party I pulled the cake back out to room temperature and use the 1M tip and some toothpicks to try to retrace the texture back into the rosettes.

 

repairedSwirls

 

violetVelvetCupcakeI also dressed up the edges with some of those royal icing violets. I knew they’d come in handy!

Most of them had gone onto the cupcakes, which were also pretty cute. Note the useful to-go packaging I came up with: 9 oz. clear Solo cups with lids, upside down. (Though sadly you probably have to have access to a restaurant supply cash and carry place for the lids, which they do not sell retail.)

Now I still had the oversized gum paste violet and the smaller rounds. I stacked the two carrot cake rounds, added a bunch of way-too-soft-because-it-was-so-hot icing swirls, and topped it with the not-perfectly-painted violet. The single 4-inch violet velvet round also got melty swirls and the single candle, and that’s what went to the birthday girl.

 

threeCakesFinished

Even without a cohesive design, they turned out pretty cute.

 

violetCupcakeVictory

L1000567

 

 

 

 

 

And most importantly, we had one happy birthday girl.

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