This is my first attempt at making a gum paste peony. Not too bad, eh? I finally got dying gum paste down, as you can see in this pretty peachy pink shade. Constructing peonies is definitely much more time consuming than roses or any other flowers, in my opinion. The process took about two nights since there is a lot of drying time required to get the shape of each petal down.
Why make one big cake when you can make several miniature cakes in different ways…
These aren’t perfect, but they’re a good start. I used varying sizes of cookie cutters to cut the cake and layered each piece with buttercream frosting. A good tip I learned that was very helpful is to bake the actual cake the night before and refrigerate. This helps prevent crumbs. I can’t even imagine the mess I would’ve caused if I didn’t start the night before.
My rose formation progress is coming along slowly. I finally got around to trying pre-made gum paste, which is typically recommended for flowers, but I actually prefer working with rolled fondant. Fondant stays moist way longer than gum paste, which means I can take my time and not rush. That was until I made my own gum paste mix. Gum paste, whether you mix it yourself or not, still dries out pretty fast. What helps is if you lay each petal (as soon as it’s cut with a cutter) on plate covered in plastic wrap.
I purchased pink pearl dust at the arts & crafts store, and I love it! I realized after the first few minutes to use very little dust as a little goes a long way. It really reminds me of eyeshadow. I can’t wait to get other colors.
After the flower pictured above, I made a two-layer vanilla “petal cake” with buttercream frosting. I made most of the petals the night before, so that they could dry and be painted the morning after. And yes, it is as time consuming as it looks, but the outcome is so pretty! Each petal is different from the shape to the colors. As you can see, I went a little heavy on yellow luster dust on some of the petals.
What have I been doing?
I attempted to make a four-layer, ombre cake one night last week. I’ve baked simple cakes and cupcakes, but nothing prepared me for what I got myself into. Baking in itself is a science. If you haven’t tried baking something specific without reading instructions, do not even bother trying to WING IT. Educate yourself. I failed to do this, thinking I knew what I was doing.
I don’t have a picture of that cake, but I do have a picture of a sugar/fondant rose I made the day after. I’ve been following several Pinterest and YouTube tutorials. There isn’t just one that works. You really just have to try them all and see what works for you.
Making gum paste or fondant flowers is very time consuming, but you can’t help but get lost in it. There is a lot of work that goes into each individual petal: the rolling, cutting, thinning, shaping, layering, and so on. This isn’t perfect, because I’m just starting, however, I notice myself improving each time.
I haven’t touch this blog in nearly 4 years. I made the decision to stop blogging then due to personal reasons, but I feel like bringing it back from the dead. My camera and writing skills are non-existent right now, and to be honest, I haven’t used my dslr in years either. Ever since I got an iPhone and Instagram came out, I used those two for everything including food, personal pictures, and vacations. Having an iPhone made things and LIFE easier. But, it also made me lazy.
I cook a lot more than I used to. Just never anything different and exciting. About 2-3 years ago, I joined a gym and became addicted to a healthy lifestyle, which included clean eating. I started cooking simple and less appealing dishes that were made out of only less than five ingredients. I watched everything I ate and got really skinny. I was never overweight, but I wasn’t happy with my body. Today, I’m still concerned with eating well and exercising consistently, but I’ve learned to balance being disciplined and treating myself.
I want to improve my culinary skills, learn different techniques, and try cooking things I’ve never tried before. I want to make a seven layer rainbow cake from scratch. An authentic Sichuan dish. Bolognese sauce. Different hors d’oeuvres for parties. Paleo dishes that aren’t boring and typical. And so on.
The other day I made corn chowder with scallops and bacon using a recipe I found from Food & Wine. Cooking scallops is something I’ve always wanted to do, but I put it off for so long because 1) scallops are expensive and 2) I was scared I was going to wreck them and waste all that money I spent. I went to three grocery stores to find scallops that were a reasonable size. Whole Foods has U/15 scallops for $22.99 a pound. Fun fact: the number means how many units of scallops it would take to reach a pound. A U/10 scallop is much larger than a U/20 scallop. Typical grocery stores like Farm Fresh and Harris Teeter carry U/20 or U/30 scallops for about $13 a pound. These are tiny bay scallops and are not like the scallops that you would get at a restaurant.
I learned that prepping scallops is soooo much like making the perfect pan fried steak. Both have to be very dry before you season them with freshly grind sea salt and black peppercorns. Do NOT use table salt and pepper. So, so wrong. After your pan is super hot with olive oil and melted butter, sear each size for about a minute or a minute and a half until it’s golden brown.
See recipe here.
And here’s the final product!