Thursday, August 22, 2013

Red Dragon Cake

Triple-layer Hummingbird Cake with Cinnamon Buttercream and Pecan filling and Red Vanilla Buttercream Roses

We had two special guests in our home today - a student peer of our youngest daughter is from China.  Her parents came to Heidelberg for a visit.  And, they came to our home for a lovely cake-filled afternoon.  Most importantly...the student's mother is a Chinese Tea Master and she prepared oolong tea.  She demonstrated the artistry of tea service...and explained the meaning behind each specific step.  We learned so much from both of our guests; it was an honor to have them here.

This is my family drawn into the tea preparation.  I didn't want to crowd the Master, but really wanted to sit at her elbow and pepper her with one hundred questions.  The whole experience was insightful and dear.

Bake to cake component of the program...

Of course I wanted to make a special "welcome" cake - but I don't cook or bake anything that resembles Chinese deliciousness.  I decided to go with my strong suit and stick to my own style of authentic American baking.  Which means...bring on the buttercream.

I know red is an especially auspicious color and shiny gold too for Chinese peoples.  The Hummingbird Cake, with it's banana, pineapple, and cinnamon flavor seemed like such a homey dessert.  This lovely cake is almost always served with a white vanilla buttercream or cream cheese frosting.  That's ok - I have red food dye.  Hot tip: Red is an incredibly difficult color to reach in tinting genuine buttercream (Crisco is easier to tint, but doesn't even come close on flavor).  I used 3 T. of McCormick Red Food Coloring and .5 oz of Wilton's Red-Red coloring gel.  It's still not exactly the color I was looking for, but nothing is perfect. 

After letting the layers sit in the cake fridge overnight, building it went very well.  The cinnamon buttercream was a last-minute decision (I've never used it before) but it just sounded good.  The pecans are a traditional garnish for this cake, but with the red roses it didn't make sense.  No reason not to add it to the layers.

Chopped pecans resting on a lovely Cinnamon Buttercream filling.

The red buttercream roses went on very well - I wasn't especially happy with the consistency based on the thin edges breaking apart.  But that's ok. 

Action shot!  I love this part of cakes.

Originally, I was disappointed with the color of the buttercream because it didn't match this silk rose.  Once it was in place and ready to serve - I was happy with it and .... it looked red!

Love the contrasting colors of roses.

I wanted the table to look just right - I think I need more practice entertaining.

Ladurée macaroons from Paris.
Raspberry, Pistachio, Caramel, Vanilla, Lemon

My afternoon was amazing.  Honored guests, lovely desserts, incredible tea....I have the best life.   I sometimes forget I am so fortunate to have choices.  I choose my fantastic life partner.  I choose sobriety.  I choose to maintain awareness during my journey.


  1. Oh, my heart! SOOOOO beautiful! One day, my friend, I will eat one of your cakes and you can tell me stories while I devour it!! I will bring the beverage. :)

    1. I'm going to hold you to that Lisa! Cake and friends - there's no sweeter combination. I believe buttercream has healing properties.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you Sarah! It was a great day and a wonderful cake. I can't wait until we're baking birthday cakes together.