Wednesday, July 03, 2013

A basket (cake) of flowers!

Every August, my cousins and I would plan.. it was Aaji's (Grandmother) Birthday. 
I would go to my cousins home and my Grandmother lived just a few minutes walk from there.
We would buy a cake from Monginis and wait impatiently for midnight. 
10 minutes to midnight, we would start out and carefully carry the cake, gift and flowers and walk to her home, on the silent streets. 
As we entered the apartment owners community, we would start giggling and our eyes would twinkle with  anticipation at her surprise.  We would light the candle on the cake and stand outside the door.
At exactly midnight, we would ring the bell and wait breathlessly for her to open the door. And when she did, we would sing Happy Birthday To You.....  rather tunelessly as we were so high strung with excitement.
It was the happiest of times, we planned our midnight venture with great care and looked forward to it so much! Maybe Aaji knew or suspected our plan or later even waited for it, knowing that we would turn up, but the love and happiness in her eyes was a treat to behold. She always acted surprised and made her birthday memorable for us! 

We are all far apart now, my cousins and I and of course, these small surprises are history. 
But I am one lucky girl! I have friends ( and their parents) who are like minded! 

In April, K Auntie (whom I had not met before) and I put our heads together ( via telephone calls) and conspired to put together a surprise for her daughter and my friend Sonali's birthday. It was a hush hush plan and I got what Auntie wanted for Sonali, I had already planned on baking a cake. Though it was  rushed, the cake was delicious and we all enjoyed it.

Come June, Sonali and I put our heads together- this time to plan a surprise for Auntie (visiting Dallas), for her birthday. This time I  had ample notice and could plan carefully.

I made a 4 layer cake. I used box mix for the cake. The flavor was Orangesicle ( specially requested by Sonali). The frosting was my usual, heavy whipping cream and cream cheese
The flowers are all hand made-I made the flowers a day in advance so they would be dry and ready to place on the cake. I made them using Royal Icing (recipe follows)

I baked the cake as per the box instructions, in a 9 inch spring foam pan, which is very simple and fail proof.

Cool and level the cakes ( use a leveler or a sharp serrated knife)

Cut each cake in half, horizontally.

Brush the base cake top with a simple syrup of sugar and water.

Slather the top with a thick layer of frosting. you can also add some cut fruit, like strawberries, raspberries to the frosting ( I did not add fruit)

Carefully align and place the next layer on top, press down slightly.

Brush with sugar water syrup and top with a thick dollop of frosting.

Repeat with all 4 layers.

Spread a thin layer of the frosting all over and around the cake. This will seal in all the crumbs before you start decorating. Chill for 15-20 minutes before final decoration.

I used a Basket weave all around the cake

Here is a video demonstrating the weave. It needs a bit of practice. I used Wilton Star Tip (#21) for the weave)

4 Cups of  Powdered sugar / confectioners Sugar
3 Tbsp Meringue Powder
5-6 Tbsp Warm Water

Mix the confectioners sugar and Meringue powder.
Add water and beat all the ingredients together till the icing forms soft peaks ( about 6-8 minutes) in a stand mixer. It may take a bit longer with a hand held mixer.

I made apple blossoms (the tiny ones) and then went on to just using the 104 tip to make flowers that look like 'sadafuli' flowers  ( check the red flower on the extreme right) 
I used the round tip and the 104 tip to make Roses. 
The leaves are piped using the whipping and cream cheese frosting tinted with green and using the Wilton leaf tips.
The flowers are made using Wilton technique. 

Once the cake is assembled and you have done the basket weave, it it just a matter of placing the flowers artistically.

There is no end to the combinations that you can make with the flowers.

I chose to use the roses and the sadafuli type flowers on to and have the smaller blossoms cascading down the side of the cake.

I *must* mention one very important detail! My 5 year old was very keen to help me in making and decorating the cake. He stayed by my side all  the time and when I was weaving the basket around the cake he, very gently placed his small hand on my arm with a, "I want to help, Mumma"
At first, I admit, I was not very happy about this, specially as I was making this weave after ages and was unsure, but when I saw the expression of total sincerity on his little face and eyes aglow with excitement, I could not refuse and I am so glad I did not. 
The look of pure happiness on his face was so motivating, I would have willingly made another cake just to have him 'decorating' by my side, aching back be damned!
He also helped bring all the flowers (very carefully) from the table they were drying on, to help place on the cake. Take a look at the picture below, he has helped place a couple of roses, small and larger blossoms and not a flaw! I am so proud of my li'll man! 

The cake was a hit. The look on Auntie's face (as well as all the other guests) was my reward!

Without sounding a whiny wimp, I want to add, I wish my parents were here and I had made this cake for my Mom. She would have totally flipped! She always likes my decorations ( there is something to be said about a Mom's unconditional love, she flipped for all the initial cakes too, which as you can imagine were totally amateurish!)
My Dad has a very discerning eye and he too was all praise for my effort!  What more can a person want!
I wish.............

Wishing you all a Happy 4th. of July! Enjoy the long weekend with your loved ones and don't skip the sun block! 
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cookingwithsapana said...

Amazing , fabulous , awesome , wonderful ...list is endless to describe this cake.

Unknown said...

Your family and friends are blessed to have you plan and take efforts to execute the surprise birthday!!!! IT is a lot of work and hush hush is difficult for chatter boxes like me. The cake as usual is breathtaking and the weave has come out so well.
Love Ash.

Anonymous said...

Awww! That cake looks so beautiful!!! I can see the love and time you put into it, the flowers have come out so well. I loved the 'sadafuli', its one of the flowers we grew up seeing, so was really happy to see it on a cake! The basket weave has come out well, thanks to your little helper ;-) could'nt stop smiling imagining his little hands over yours. How cute!

And are you some mind reader? :-) I am going to try Royal icing for the first time this weekend and was so delighted to see this post. I have to make lots and lots of mini flowers. They should stay well at room temp for a week, right? Any tips, suggestions, advice, or even warnings? Please reply.

- Priti

Manasi said...

aaww! You say the nicest things, Sapana! Thank you :)

Manasi said...

Thanks, Ash! I love planning surprises like this. I kept telling s to hush up and not say a word to ANYONE, not even himself :))
It was hilarious, he kept asking me, in a loud voice, Mommy, when are we making the surprise cake for Deep's Aaji? hahaha!

Manasi said...

Thank you so much , Priti!
I'd love to see the flowers you are planning. I am assuming you have done the wilton course ...? or are u looking at videos and doing this?

The royal icing flowers will keep well in room temp and in the fridge too ( keep one small of of dried flowers in the fridge over night and see if they keep well, am pretty sure they will..)
What kinds of mini flowers will you make? Can u share? or is it a big secret/ surprise?

Warning: just this. Royal icing dries out super quick so keep the lid tight on the box at all times.
Please feel free to mail/ comment if you need any online help ( wish u were somewhere near, I'd have loved to sit down with u to make these flowers!)

Priya Suresh said...

Omg, you have magicial hands, wat a stunning and super cute cake, tremendous work.

Anonymous said...

Somehow couldn't reply back to your comment so posting another one.

I am making tini-tiny very simple flowers (extended dots meeting at center types) and havent done the course but I am (should probably say 'was') good at making mehendi designs so will use similar technique here (hope it works!). I am learning from blogs, discussions on forums and videos online and they seem really helpful for my simple requirement as of now. But after seeing your cakes I am so tempted to learn it from a professional source. I love what you have done!

- Priti

Manasi said...

I am sure you will do this really well.
I had originally planned to put henna motifs on this cake, I also traced the designs ( totally time consuming) but they are way too delicate and every one of them broke when I tried to lift them off the parchment paper :( I was so disappointed. I am not giving up, I will, one day, make that design too!
Good luck and do share some pictures when you can. I am looking forward to seeing your design.

Snehal said...

If you made that cake for me, I would just sit and admire it. How can someone eat something so pretty? Beautiful work!

Akila said...

omg... what a gorgeous cake.... no words to praise your effort for your aaji.... simply superb....

Manasi said...

Akila, this cake was for my friend's Mom, my Aaji passed away about 3 years ago. I only related how we used to celebrate her birthday long ago.

Manasi said...

Thank you, Priya!

Khushboo said...

It is so nice of you to make a cake from scratch for your friend's Mom. It is a delectable cake. Wish I could eat a piece :)

Sayantani Mahapatra Mudi said...

wow wow wow you did an exquisite job wih this cake. really lovely and neat flowers and perfect finishing. I could not have cut such a pretty cake though :-(

Unknown said...

awesome cake...wish i have that much of patience to deco like this

Hari Chandana said...

WOWWWW..... What a gorgeous cake.. you're amazing dear.. awesome job :)

Anonymous said...

Oooh I love the henna motifs! That's something I would love to try someday, maybe with chocolate. Somehow I find white chocolate henna motifs more edible, the dark chocolate ones look so real that I find it difficult to associate it with food. :-) I have heard that if you freeze it it's easier to peel but I havent tried it yet. I am going to email you the picture of the whole cake once it's done! :-) Sometime after mid July. It is a surprise!

- Priti

Mary Bergfeld said...

I would find it hard to cut into this beautiful cake, It is a work of art. I hope you have a great weekend. Blessings...Mary

Anonymous said...

Awesome cake, Mansi.. love it.. I also absolutely love the way you write.. it's almost like an Indian Enid Blyton :). I really mean it, you have a talent in soty telling and of course in making delicious cakes too..thanks for your lovely posts.


Vaishali said...

Oh my god, Manasi, that is one awesome cake! Just beautiful.

Linda said...

Manasi, hello! What a lovely story and lovely cake too!! I could not even dream of making something like that. You have a gift for decorating! And how wonderful to include your little boy... he will grow up to cook for himself thanks to mom :)

Manasi said...

Aaawww! thank you Snehal!

Manasi said...

Thank you, Khushboo! I am glad I got the opportunity to make it and everyone liked the cake too:)

Sona - quick picks/pick quicks said...

wow !! that is indeed a real gorgeous cake, Manasi. can see the efforts behind it in the making. the flowers are soo cute.

Unknown said...

Royal looking cake.I am a fan now.One more question,about the frosting,will it stay longer on the counter,as we have used whipping cream and cream cheese?

Anonymous said...

basket of flowers look perfectly iced on the cake, hats off to you...we really enjoyed the read,lovely memories :-)

Light Food Desire said...

I plan to bake a similar cake for a surprise birthday party for an aunt, I have never done weaving, and flowers, so lets see how it goes! How long did it take for you to make flowers, and weaving basket.

Manasi said...

The flowers are royal icing, these wee made a day or 2 in advance as they need to be dry and hard.
The basket took me about 20 mins plus. But longer in case you are new to it, it also depends on the size of the cake.

Light Food Desire said...

thanks Manasi, I made the cake with homemade royal icing flowers, basket weave with butter cream frosting, After reading through your frosting recipe, I am keen to try whipped cream and cream cheese frosting. Concern is can i whip and refrigerate icing, and use later to frost the cake, will it pipe the designs well, or this needs to be made just before icing the cake. I usually use butter cream icing for decoration. is there an email address i can reach you, could not find, thanks!

Manasi said...

You can certainly make the whipped cream+cream cheese frosting ahead of time! just make sure you remove it from the fridge well in time to make it pliable to use.



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