May 8th, 2011
Alice in Wonderland Cake Project – cake and cupcakes featuring Alice in Wonderland characters. Price available upon request.
into the rabbit hole
Persistence is a quality that my good friend M._ knows too well. And it was that trait of hers that pushed me to try new things while working on this project.
Her adorable daughter A._ was turning seven and the theme she chose for her party was Alice in Wonderland. M._ emailed me some photos of sample cakes. They were pretty. They were tiered. They were made with fondant. I can do pretty, I can do tiered but I cannot do fondant. It’s not that I don’t know how to work with it; I just am not a fan of that medium.
When it seemed that M._ was leaning towards those types of cake, I told her that she might have to look for another baker as I’m really not fond of fondant. For a moment there, I thought I had been a fool for saying that. M._ certainly thought so. Miss Persistent wants my cakes and she will have them. Sir, yes sir! Into the rabbit hole I go!
I suggested to M._ my go-to celebration cake: devil’s food chocolate cake filled with bittersweet chocolate ganache and covered in chocolate glaze. I had planned on making chocolate images from the Disney movie. She also sent me photos of cupcakes with characters from the movie as toppers such as the Mad Hatter’s hat, the White Rabbit’s pocket watch, teapots, flowers and crown. And then it hit me—I can use marzipan to mold these toppers!
Marzipan is a mixture of almond meal and sugar. It is delicious to eat on its own and is also classified as a confection item. It is pliable, can be colored, rolled, cut and molded into different shapes and can be used to cover cakes just like fondant. You can make your own or buy it ready to use. I get mine at Santi’s Deli. When I took a short cake decorating course under Leni Reynoso, we were taught how to make marzipan using ground pili nuts. It was delicious—I love pili nuts!—but the nuts were not finely ground. So if you are planning to make your own, make sure that the nuts are ground to a very fine consistency. Learn how to make homemde marzipan here.
I decided to make the hat, pocket watch, mushroom, teapot and teacup and roses. Taking a cue from the cardmen’s song (“we’re painting the roses red”), I made half of one rose red and the other half, white. With toppers such as these, I don’t think I’ll hear any “off with her head!” screams.
After several studies (whew!), I picked the red queen, white rabbit, mad hatter, chesire cat and of course Alice as the chocolate cake decorations.
Usually, I just lay on chocolate images on top of a cake but I thought of making them stand this time. I had been slaving away with this project anyway so why not try something new. I attached a stick each on the backs of Alice and the name plaque with white chocolate. Fortunately, they stayed upright throughout the celebration.
I left the party early because I had another project due the following day. But according to my friends who were there, the cupcakes were a hit. Thanks M._ for your faith in me and for letting me be a part of your special celebration.