Jun 16, 2014

Red, Gold and White Wedding Cake

After having made an Engagement cake a while ago I was yearning to do a Wedding cake someday. I did not have to wait long as our close friends announced they were getting married this year and that too in Minneapolis and yaaayyy, I just jumped at the occasion of making a pretty cake for them that matched with their wedding and theme. 

I'm so happy to say I was able to make a Three Tiered Wedding cake for them who got married this year in April and it was a beautiful ceremony and the first time I attended a North Indian Wedding. They decided to bring their immediate family over to MN to attend and bless them on this auspicious occasion. 

A lot of things had to be taken care of like food, photographer, venue, poojari, sangeeth and Mehendi night preps, decorating the venue etc etc . Trust me I never did nor think of anything of this sort for my own wedding other than getting dressed up, wearing makeup and sitting at the mandap ;-)

The bride and groom along with help from a bunch of us friends did all the preparations and organizing for the big day and it was a gorgeous event and one to remember and in the end a job well done ;-) 

They chose 'Love Marriage' as the theme for the wedding with decorations in colors of Red, White and Gold! So the colors for the cake was set. She also wanted some cookies to add to the favor bag for the guests as a Thank you for attending their auspicious event, so we decided to bake them at home itself and do some decorations with royal icing.

We first started with the cookies. My friend and her sis-in-law (who came from India) helped me with the cookie baking-decorating marathon ;-) 

We baked 85 Shortbread cookies in an aromatic Espresso flavor using fluted Heart shaped cookie cutters. We planned to incorporate the Love theme into the cookies so decided on doing a marbled heart effect using royal icing. I made two batches of red and white royal icing and we all had so much fun doing the icing decoration.  The whole cookie making marathon literally took us the whole day and here's how it looked :-)

The wedding was held at an elegant Indian restaurant here in Minneapolis and the entire decor was done such that it had everything to do with 'Love'. There were heart shaped red balloons, red and golden drapes all over the hall, beautiful fresh flower arrangements and elegant tea light candles floating in crystal vases filled with red rose petals at each table, golden chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and romantic indian music playing in the background....in all it was a glittery night and a beautiful wedding!

For the wedding cake after brainstorming quite a bit I decided on bottom and top tiers being Red and middle tier being White with the couple's Initials on it.
Thankfully the wedding was on a Monday, so I had the entire weekend to bake, frost and decorate the cake. We decided on these Cake flavors: 
Bottom Tier (10"d x 4"h) - Rich Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
Middle Tier (8"d x 6"h) - Red Velvet Cake with Vanilla Buttercream
Top Tier (6"d x 6"h) - White Cake with Mango Buttercream

Everything from Cake to frosting to fondant was all made at home from scratch with the freshest of ingredients and the decorations took me almost 14hrs flat on all three tiers. Here's a look at how these beauties looked before getting draped with fondant.

I wanted to do a Mehendi design on the bottom tier, but as I'm personally not very good with doing free hand mehendi, I decided to use a stencil. I used the left-over Red Royal Icing (that we made for the cookies) and used the stencil for the pattern on the cake and I painted over the stenciled royal icing with Antique gold edible dust. This was so time-consuming and I had no room for mistakes with even a bristle going out of line, so it was very intricate work. This was done three times all around the bottom tier.

For the middle tier, I decided on a pleated look. I had recently bought an embosser rolling pin on sale and wanted to use that to create an embossed look on the fondant pleats. It was very faint but hey! you can see it if you look closely. The pleats took me quite some time with measuring each individual pleat to be of same thickness and attaching them one by one. I did a free-hand heart cut-out on fondant and wrote the couple's initials and piped a beaded border with white Royal icing and painted over both with Antique Gold Edible dust. 

For the top tier I had initially planned on making several sugar roses and placing them on top, as my friend loved Red Roses, but that din't work out, so finally I used my silicon mold to  make a giant rose and painted it with Antique Gold Edible dust. 

To give the cake more height I included a divider in between the middle and top tier using a styrofoam block that was 4" in diameter and 3" in height, that I wrapped fully in cling wrap and added fondant beads accents which again was painted fully with Antique Gold Edible dust.  

The cake was supported with wooden dowels for stability and placed on a pretty silver cake stand surrounded by rose petals and pretty candles in wine glasses. The florist suggested keeping some fresh roses on top of the cake and she promised that the flowers were organic and pesticide free, so we placed few roses on the top. So finally I was able to keep few roses on top of the cake as planned before and there you go!!!

Here are some more precious moments :-)

Photography credits for the Cake: Kristin McCarthy Photography
Cake cutting and decoration pics : Kushal Paudyal Photography

Please do share all your valuable feedback on the cake which was my first three tiered cake as well. It still has plenty of room for improvement but I'm hoping to learn as I go. 
I want to thank the bride and groom who are our close friends from the bottom of my heart for letting me make the cake for their special day and I wish them a very happy married life.

Next on the blog, I will be sharing the recipe for the gorgeous Espresso Shortbread cookies and will also show how we did the marbled heart effect with Royal icing, so don't go anywhere ;-) 


Jun 10, 2014

Mango Falooda for a milestone of 5 Lakh+ hits!

Just after I had posted my Veggie Quesadilla I was checking some stats and realized, hey! we've crossed 5lakh+ views...and that is quite a feat. Considering how irregular my posts are here with past few months being crazy busy ;-P and plus I do hardly any social networking or engage with my readers other than the usual " {New Post} " updates on facebook. I occasionally add a pic or two to Instagram and Twitter and if I get time, try and pin my posts on my Pinterest boards...but I'm so lazy to do all this systematically and yet inspite of all this we've reached 5lakh page views....So big big thank you to you all!

I had made a superb mangolicious dessert for a casual dinner with my friends a weekend ago and thought it was perfect to share here with my joy of reaching a lovely milestone on the blog. 

I planned to make Chicken Biriyani with mixed veg Raita and papad for dinner. For appetizers we grilled some awesome tandoori chicken (marinated by my friend) and paneer-veggie tandoori kebabs (made by me). I can never let a dinner pass without dessert so I decided to make Mango Falooda that was flavored with cardamom and had some vibrant layers to it...

It had been a long time since I ate or made falooda and I just wanted to have something cool and refreshing and this was the perfect dessert. Trust me when I say it was enjoyed by all, b'coz from the kids to all the calorie conscious adults (my friends :-P ) ate up their whole glass full ;-)

(Pls pardon my out-of-focus pics, all my concentration was on how soon could I lick that glass clean ;-) )

A Falooda is a layered sweet drink or beverage. It uses ingredients like vermicelli, sago, jelly, basil seeds (sabja), fruits, nuts etc  that are layered together and finally served with chilled and flavored milk or icecream. I've seen it usually served with both a spoon and a straw where you eat the various layers with a spoon and drink up the sweet milk or melted icecream with the straw :-) I just love this almost 'trifle like' dessert and to give it a twist I made a smooth custard instead of flavored milk to blend with the layers.

Here are the simple set of ingredients that make up this pretty dessert. I layered each of these ingredients and then finally poured the mango custard on top with a scoop of vanilla icecream. It was the perfect combination of flavors.

I did not have nor could I find Basil (sabja) seeds at the store so I used Chia seeds instead. I'm not sure exactly how basil seeds would have tasted but chia seeds work just well and besides I've read of so many health benefits of chia seeds. I just added a tablespoon of the seeds and added enough water to immerse them. They bloomed beautifully and becomes almost jelly like and I must say was quite flavorless ;-)

You can make jelly from mango pulp as well for an all-mango dessert but i wanted some pop-of color and decided to use a strawberry instant jello mix. It worked well and the extra jelly we just ate it up later on.

I made two more glasses of Mango Falooda after dinner and refrigerated it for the next day (this was just for Manish & me :-P ) Oh! by the way, I ate up half that glass in between taking pics, the icecream had melted, the layers blended with each other and it was icy cold and totally yumm...I couldn't resist! :-P 

Mango Falooda
(makes 6-8 servings)

You'll Need
Strawberry Jelly (cut in cubes) - as needed
Fresh Mango (cut into cubes) - 1 Mango
Mango pulp - ½ cup
Chia seeds (soaked and bloomed in water) - 1 Tblsp
For vermicelli payasam/kheer
Falooda Sev or Roasted Vermicelli - 50 gms
Milk - 2 cups
Sugar - 3-4 tblsp (as preferred)
Cardamom powder - ½ tsp
For mango custard
Milk - 2 cups
Mango pulp - 1/2 cup
Custard powder - 1 tblsp
Sugar - 3-4 tblsp (as preferred)
Cardamom powder - ½ tsp
Vanilla Icecream - one scoop each

1. Soak the Chia seeds in water enough to immerse it and as it thickens slightly add more water to loosen it. Refrigerate until needed.
2. If making instant Strawberry jelly, follow the instructions from the pack and refrigerate to set for few hours. (I reduced the water by ½ cup to get a thicker jelly)
3. Make Falooda Sev/Vermicelli payasam
Heat a pan and add falooda sev/roasted vermicelli with 2 cups milk. When it starts to boil, add the cardamom powder and sugar and stir and continue to cook until the sev is soft and the payasam/kheer becomes thick. Add more sugar as desired. Refrigerate until chilled.
4. Make Mango Custard
Mix the custard powder with some milk without any lumps and keep aside. Start to boil 2 cups milk in a pan. When milk starts bubbling add the custard powder and sugar and mix well making sure no lumps form. Stir until it slightly thickens, turn off flame, add powdered cardamom powder. Once the custard cools, add the mango pulp and mix well. Refrigerate until needed.
Make sure the custard is of pourable consistency and not thick like pudding. Add more sugar as desired.

In a tall glass add 1 tsp each of vermicelli payasam, strawberry jelly, chia seeds and mango cubes. Add enough mango pulp to cover the fruit and then add a teaspoon of crushed almonds and  pour enough Mango custard to fill. Top with a scoop of vanilla icecream and serve immediately!

1. I used canned mango pulp, you can make it fresh mangoes as well.
2. I flavored the vermicelli payasam and mango custard with cardamom, you can skip it if you do not like the flavor, though I don't see any reason why you won't :-)

I tried a gif image just for fun to see the glass getting layered...next time i should remember to keep my camera still to get a better effect. What do you think? :-)

Do try it out, you'll love it. My calorie conscious friends will agree too :-P hehe...