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Friday, June 8, 2012

Four Generation Quilt Cake

Quilt and Quilt Cake

Quilts endure; cakes, not so much
It started with the quilt Great Grandma Marion made for Devon when she was born - triangles of lavenders and purples, interspersed with white, each square quilted with a heart.  Five years later, it was "Mimi's" (Devon's nickname for Great Grandma) 80th birthday, and there was a big family reunion weekend planned to celebrate the occasion.

Daughter Kate wanted to know who was making the birthday cake, and that if I wasn't making it, I should.  And, she added, it should be a quilt.

I just hadn't thought about it, but so instructed, I volunteered.  Upon inquiry, the "birthday girl" admitted her favorite was carrot cake.  When pressed for a choice of frosting to go with vanilla cake, Mimi ventured that she loved apricot anything.

So charged, I was pondering how to transport a tiered cake serving 30 people for three or four hours on the car drive up to Massachusetts, and thinking wouldn’t it be easier to bring cupcakes?  In that case, each person could choose whichever flavor they preferred, and I would get to socialize and not have to cut up and serve a layer cake.

Devon, future master baker

Having had so much fun making a fondant baby shower cake (see blogpost titled Adventures in Fondant), I enlisted granddaughter Devon to help me make a seven pounds of fondant, (see The Cake Bible, by Rose Levy Berenbaum) knowing that whatever cake I made, I definitely wanted to use fondant for the decorating.
Meanwhile, I was leafing through Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book, and Devon was tucking her Teddybear in on the couch with her lavender quilt and she said, "Grandma, why don't you make cupcakes and cover it with fondant like a quilt?"  Bingo!  Devon's a genius!

Fondant "quilt"

Using Devon's quilt as inspiration, I drew up a plan to make a quilt just like Devon's, only made of fondant.
The next day it was off to the kitchen with Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book in hand.  A few hours later, I had 60 cupcakes:  half of them carrot, and half vanilla.  And then, on to the frostings.

 Full disclosure:  there was leftover cream cheese frosting on hand from a batch of Red Velvet Cupcakes Kate had made for her friend's birthday two days before, so I just needed to make frosting for the vanilla ones. Following America's Test Kitchen's Family Baking Book's excellent recipe for Vanilla Frosting, and reasoning that orange and apricot are compatible flavors, I made the Orange Frosting variation and added glaceed apricots.  Perfect!  Recipe follows. 

Brought the cupcakes to Massachusetts, and rolled out the fondant at the camp cabin.  With help from cousin Tara, we made all different purple combinations of colors - some with a reddish tint, some with blue and rolled out "fabric" triangles to put on the quilt top.  Finally I used a template and a toothpick to add the heart quilting.  Voila - you could hardly tell the difference between the quilt and the cake.

"Marbled" fondant - see Carpenter's Cake Decorating for how-to

Mimi loved the cake and it was a true generational collaboration:  from the quilt that Great Grandma Marion originally made, to the idea for the cake from Granddaughter Kate, to the design from Great Granddaughter Devon, and finally the execution of it all by me (with thanks to Tara for color mixing and moral support).

Vanilla cupcake with Orange Apricot Frosting

Orange Apricot Frosting inspired by the America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book, enough for 24 cupcakes
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons orange juice
2 teaspoons fresh orange zest
1/3 cup finely chopped glaceed or dried apricots
1/8 teaspoon salt
16 ounces (1 lb.) confectioner’s sugar

In an electric mixer on medium speed, mix together the butter, cream, vanilla and salt.  Beat for 2 minutes until smooth.  Turn off the mixer and by hand carefully mix in the confectioner’s sugar.  Turn up the mixer to medium-low and beat until smooth again, about 4 – 6 minutes.  (If too dry, add 1 – 3 teaspoons of heavy cream.)  Finally, increase the mixer to medium-high and beat until very light and fluffy, 5 – 10 minutes.

Notes:  This recipe produces a very light, creamy and irresistibly buttery frosting that can only be achieved through the lengthy mixing time.  This rivals buttercreams made with eggs, but is much easier and you don’t have to worry about egg safety issues.

Carrot Cupcake - recipe from Stewart's Cupcakes

A new book in our Library is The Complete Photo Guide to Cake Decorating, by Autumn Carpenter:  what an encyclopedic reference!  I am really impressed.  Filled with both basic information and really useful tips (example:  grease your hands with shortening before mixing food color into fondant to keep your hands from getting stained) that I have never read before, this is a fun book to peruse for reference, instruction and inspiration.  Find it in our Library.  Right after I return it.

Diane Whitman
Reference Librarian
(Cake) Quilter


Anonymous said...

WOW! This is such a cool idea and really reflected something special about the connection between your grandma and the family - intergenerational! Thanks for sharing.

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