Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Eco-Baby Birthday: Edible Flowers

Here's a birthday cake fit for our five year old Girliest of Girls: purple frosting with pink dragee lettering and edible flowers! I broke my April Buy Nothing Challenge when I got some viola seedlings at the farmer's market. But the results were spectacular, our plants are blooming again so I can make more...and I'll teach you how to make candied flowers, too, as penance.

EGirl wanted a chocolate cake with purple frosting. This was easily accomplished with items we had in the house. And by that I mean I scavenged around for what we had, trying not to buy anything, aside from indulging my flower obsession. (I decided that using up what we had trumped fair-trade chocolate issues or the strange verbiage on the India Tree sprinkles website indicating that they were for decoration only despite being glittery and made of 90% sugar, and that the colors I have in my possession are not available for purchase in the health-conscious state of California - WTF?!). We had both cocoa powder and purple frosting tint, the faaancy kind with the most artificial of dyes, in the house from failed prior frosting rose creation efforts. La-la-la-la...that is me blocking out all but making my kid a birthday cake and trying not to waste too many resources.

The coolest part was, of course, the edible flowers! They were super easy. (And no, I don't recommend dropping $40 for 25 flowers.) First, choose a flower to grow (or buy some seedlings like me, just make doubly sure they are organic). Then, whip up some meringue powder (again, you can find this at a highbrow baking store) unless you have your own chickens and have no fear of salmonella. If you are trying to steer clear of raw egg whites then meringue powder or milk are the way to go. Follow the meringue instruction and use it or some milk to moisten your flower. Dip the flower in some superfine sugar. If you are lazy frugal like me, you can just send your sugar through the food processor for a bit. I might recommend using parchment paper instead of foil; ours stuck to the foil which made for difficult flower removal. Anyhoo, put your oven on the lowest heat you can and let the flowers dry for about 20 minutes. They should keep for a bit (tightly covered during this, ant invasion season) in a cool, dark place. Some recipes say they'll keep for up to a year! We candied mostly violas, and a couple chive flowers that had just come out in our window herb boxes (onion cake, anyone?).

Here's a couple recipes for candied flowers and lists of edible flowers for your reference. Maybe for Mother's Day?!

15 comments:

Jessica said...

Wow. And I thought making from scratch w/out Betty or Pillsbury boxes was praise-worthy. Total awe and admiration!

MamaBird said...

Hey, you're local, I'm happy to barter!

Green Me said...

Yay! I've been anticipating a post on your daughter's birthday. That is a beautiful cake, so much more so than the sheet cakes from the grocery store with bright and gaudy colors. I still have (and use for frosting) food color that is probably not sold in the state of California, but I figure that it is not an every day thing, plus the stuff I bought at a natural foods store was just mucky. What I don't get is that back in the day people used non artificial dye for things -- maybe it is just too expensive to mass market and sell? Anyway, great post and thanks for sharing! Maybe you'll post later on your party favors? Did you figure something clever out for them too? My son may only be 10 months old, but I am starting a mental collection of b-day party ideas!

katydidnot said...

oh, if you had to buy something, good choice

MamaBird said...

Hi Green Me! Yes, I am definitely going to post more about my daughter's birthday. We had great favors and fun, lots of which was very green. Your son has a big birthday coming up! I love it when the babes hit a year...

MamaBird said...

and katydidnot, looking fwd to hearing what you got your sweet niece for her bday, loved your tribute to her...

amy t sharp said...

love this!!!!

Tech Savvy Mama said...

Love the idea of sending sugar for a whirl in the food processor instead of buying superfine sugar. One less thing to buy= one less thing in the pantry. Thanks for a great idea and what a gorgeous cake! I'll call you next January when I need ideas for Little Miss Techie's b'day cake! And I would love to hear all about your party favors. :)

MamaBird said...

Ooh, Little Miss Techie's my birthday twin - we have lots of January fun in our house. Definitely let me know when you want ideas - I have lots more of those than energy to implement ;)!

Minnesota Matron said...

Oh my goodness: that is a fabulous idea and a beautiful cake! Wonderful! Thanks for your sharp presence on my blog. It's just wonderful.

Mojito @ FoodieTots.com said...

Lovely cake! So cool you made your own edible flowers. And happy belated birthday to E!

wrekehavoc said...

pretty. i want to hear more about edible flowers!

oh, and speaking of edible, i swear i once ate the little silver ball thingies, though i have since learned they are inedible.

oops.

Laura said...

Hi Mamabird! Wow. Beautiful cake for your sweet girl. Happy, happy birthday to her!

I love the candied flower idea. Mark says try Reynold's Release foil. (I know, I'm sorry, but what can I do? He works there.)

I'm not afraid of salmonella (actually, there's not a lot I'm afraid of) so I'd probably use the neighbors' chicken eggs for the meringue. I'd love to try a lemon cake with some beautiful flowers. I'm not too far away from you -- maybe there's some bartering in our future. :)xxx

MamaBird said...

Laura - I am so down with the Virgina bartering... and if I had neighbors with chickens? I would so not be fearing salmonella either. Distance from food=bad!

Melanie said...

Love the cake. Gorgeous. And it will look gorgeous in your photos 20 years from now, as opposed to, say, a Diego or Barney cake NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT.