This weekend I made a violet velvet cake for a friend of a friend’s bridal shower. What is a violet velvet cake, you ask? Well, it’s just like red velvet, only it’s purple.
I wish I had a picture of the cake when it was cut, because it was this deep dark purple color alternating with stripes of cream cheese frosting. Alas. I DO have pictures of the outside to show you, though, full of violetty things, like flowers.
Close-up of the baby flowers along the bottom border:
And on top of the cake:
I thought it would be fun to do a little tutorial on how to make these flowers. It’s not rocket science but sometimes step-by-step photos make things a bit easier. Here we go!
Optimally, you will need:
*fondant (not pictured, because I forgot. Eh. Gumpaste also works)
*veining tool (teal)
*bone tool (purple)
*teensy, tiny paint brush
*lots of time on your hands
Start by rolling your fondant out very thin, about 1/8 inch, and cut out your flowers. Don’t do all the fondant at once, because in the time it’ll take you to shape the flowers the fondant will be drying out, and the ones that you get to last might be too brittle. So do a handful at a time.
A word about fondant flowers: they’re definitely more delicate than gumpaste. But seriously, gumpaste tastes terrible, and it’s rock-hard. At least with fondant, if people want to eat it they can without losing a tooth or wanting to sandpaper their tongue. So for this cake, where I didn’t need the decorations to have any sort of long-term staying power, I went with fondant. But just be aware that they drying flowers will be more brittle and prone to breakage. Moving on!
Place the flower on the thin sheet of foam and press the veining tool in the center of the petal–this gives it a neat 3-D effect. The foam, quite honestly, is totally replaceable–you could use a soft cloth napkin of piece of felt. And I think the veining tool could be replaced by the thin edge of this handy orange peeler I have–seriously, the shape is very similar.
If you want to make curved flowers, move the flower to the thicker foam and press the bone tool in the middle, to create a cupped shape. Again, you can make substitutions: maybe a clean, soft sponge for the foam, and a pencil (eraser side) for the bone tool.
Now what you SHOULD do is transfer the curved flower to a curved flower mold to dry. But I don’t have one of those, so I’m going to make a substitution of my own: empty egg cartons! Works like a charm. You can even layer multiple flowers on top of each other so you can do much more than just 12 flowers at a time.
Once the flowers are dry (anywhere from several hours-overnight, depending on the moisture in the fondant, the thickness, the humidity level, etc) you can add some decorations. I took the world’s weensiest paintbrush (purchased from a craft store in the painting section) and dipped it in food coloring and painted some contrasting strokes inside the petals: purple on the white flowers, and white on the purple.
Did you know they make white food coloring? The world is an amazing place.
Finally, pipe a dot in the center of your flowers. Royal icing is a great idea here, I just used buttercream because it’s what I had on hand and I knew the cake would be eaten and the flowers disposed of in a short amount of time.
Voila! Do this about a million more times and you’ll have a nice collection of flowers! It is a bit time consuming, but it’s fairly mindless work, and I got all caught up on my Top Chef and Project Runway viewing when doing it. (Speaking of: how is it possible that Gretchen is going to the finals? Aaaaaahhhhh!)
The final step is to stick them on your cake. I usually like to pipe a few vines on before I stick my flowers down, just because they always look naked to me otherwise. Fondant tends to sweat when placed in the fridge–especially when placed on a soft, sticky, non-crusting frosting like cream cheese–so I wouldn’t chance putting a fully decorated cake in the fridge overnight. Too risky! I did almost everything the night before, and then just added the flowers in the morning before the party.