I always admire well decorate cakes and I always wanted to know how to make those nice roses. And since there are several birthdays coming up this spring I thought I better get some more cake decorating skills. I am not very artistic. I can't draw a nice picture or paint, or sing, or do anything else that is considered an art. Still, I was determined to make some nice cakes this spring. Not that I have never decorated cakes before. I always bake my families birthday cakes and on a few occasions I have baked a cake for friends.
What makes it somewhat challenging though is the fact, that I only use all-natural ingredients and never use artificial food coloring. I have tried the SEELECT brand of natural food coloring before but did not like the fact that it was too liquid. For example, the color blue is blueberry juice concentrate. It made the icing too thin and runny. So I searched the Internet for a better solution and I think I found one. The India Tree brand worked just fine for me although you can only mix pastel colors which I like better than the strong colors you find on decorated cakes in the grocery store. India Tree's Natural Decorating Colors come in a set of three colors: yellow (turmeric), red (beet juice) and blue (red cabbage). If you want any other colors you will have to mix them yourself, and there is were the fun part starts.
I had trouble getting a nice green color. I just could not get a nice green and so my husband suggested that I use some wheat juice powder instead of the India Tree colors and I tried this on my next cake and it worked a lot better. I suppose one could also use spinach powder.
Now my next challenge was the icing. I knew that I probably could not make the roses without using shortening and shortening I did not want to use. I never bake with it. In fact, I never buy it. So one day I was walking the isles at Mother Earth Market and I saw a container of shortening. I was curious about it because I did not think shortening would be sold in a health food store, after all, it is not a healthy food. But is said "organic" on it. So it could not be so bad after all. And what really caught my eye was the word "non-hydrogenated" on the container. Wow, I did not know that such a thing existed. It is made from palm oil, has 0 grams trans fat and less saturated fat than butter. Not that I am going to use it instead of butter from now on, but to use it every now and than for those lovely roses on a cake should be okay.
The above cake was my first experiment. I was not totally satisfied with it. I thought the roses came out good considering it was my very first attempt making them. I did not like the grainy-ness of the icing though. I made powdered-sugar-half-butter-half-shortening icing for the entire cake and it was way too sweet for my taste.
Here is a slice of the cake. The filling was some strawberry jam and whipping cream. The cake layer was okay but I was going to try another one next time. Marisha loved the roses. She did not want to eat them because they looked too good according to her. Only after I promised to make some more did she eat her roses. Well, and since I had to keep my promise I made some more a few days later...