Yeah, I’m doing something a little different for Picture Saturday, mainly because I have no artwork to show. #Fail. Or at least, no pencil-and-paintbrush artwork. For many years, I’ve decorated cakes semi-professionally, and have made custom-themed cakes for my family’s birthdays. Which is a form of artwork.
And because my birthday was recently, I indulged in this confectionery art. Unfortunately, my family has developed several food sensitivities in the last two years. A boxed-mix cake is now out of the question. We’ve found a nice coconut flour cake recipe as substitute, and we’ve made cupcakes, half of which are covered with my regular cake icing, and the other half of which are covered with melted chocolate. Which caters to the various sensitivities, but also lets us enjoy something sweet for the party.
But cupcakes restrict the lavish designs I usually do. I like to decorate cakes this way:
My siblings definitely like this; they tell me what theme they want for their birthdays and what designs they have in mind, and I make their cakes accordingly. But that style of decorating does not translate well to cupcakes.
So the morning of my birthday, I frantically scanned Pinterest for ideas. I finally settled on a Phantom of the Opera theme and decided to put a different symbol on each cupcake–a mirror, for instance, could be on one, and a rose on another, and musical notes and piano keys on others. When I told Chris of my plan, he exclaimed, “Dude, that is awesome!” Gingersnap gave the same reaction. 🙂
Here are my tools: decorator’s bags, food coloring (black, maroon, green, brown, gold), couplers (to hold the decorators’ tips in the bags), and decorators’ tips to pipe the icing in different shapes.
I work with buttercream icing instead of fondant. Fondant has always looked like creamy play-dough to me, and who wants to eat dessert like that looks like play-dough? Buttercream icing, however, is soft and less easy to mold than fondant, but I’ve found a way around this problem.
I smooth swatches of icing on a flat, wax-paper covered surface and pop the tray in the freezer. After a few minutes, the icing gets hard enough to cut with a knife and to pick up without leaving fingerprints. So I’m able to cut and mold shapes with frozen buttercream icing.
Here, I’ve started to cut out the shapes. The white swatch is for piano keys and the iconic mask; gold is for the mirror frames; and red is for theatre curtains. And for the roses, which I’ve already piped.
The swatches soften quickly, though, so I would make a few cuts, and then put the tray back in the freezer. Rinse and repeat. 🙂
I used a special icing tip to pipe the roses. And I played the 25th Anniversary Concert soundtrack in the background as I worked. 🙂
Here, I’ve cut out the piano keys and the mirror frames and have sliced the roses in half. I intended to pipe a few more petals over the bottom of the roses once I put the flowers on the cupcakes. I also piped small patterns onto the mirror frames. However, after snapping this picture, I worked so busily that I neglected to take more. So I don’t have any in-progress shots of cutting out the mirror glass or the black piano keys.
Also, the theatre curtains idea fell through (not enough maroon icing), and so I used a different symbol…
…the red scarf. I actually like this better; it’s kinda a forgotten symbol in the Phantom musical.
Christine & Raoul–had to be done, although I have terrible icing-penmanship. 🙂
Musical notes, which I piped directly on the cupcake.
The assembled piano keys. (Gingersnap claimed this cupcake.)
The roses turned out really well, which relieved me because I thought they might look stiff and scrawny.
And then my favorite cupcake of all…
This was the hardest symbol to mold, but boy, it was worth it! I claimed this cupcake posthaste. Also one of the rose cupcakes.
The finished product!