This cake is my pride and joy. Possibly the most beautiful cake I have ever made. I have always loved cakes, particularly the artistry, and have recently decided to train myself in cake decorating. This particular cake I made for a baby shower for some environmentalists at work. I wanted the cake to be seasonal as well as a natural kind of aesthetic.
The cake is pumpkin, adapted from a recipe in The Sustainable Kitchen. I removed the nuts and currants so as not to detract or interrupt the layers and icing I decided to add. Instead of using vegetable oil we used melted browned butter, and we also added a little brandy.
For icing I tried my hand at marzipan from scratch. I wanted the smooth surface created by fondant, but with flavor. I felt marzipan would be the perfect autumnal accompaniment to the cake, plus the baby's mother is German, so it was perfect. The marzipan turned out a little more grainy that what you buy at the store, though that seemed to improve as it sat in the refrigerator. I let it sit for about 24 hours. If I did it again, I'd try to give it three days to moisten the granules. The taste of the homemade marzipan was definitely superior to that of the store-bought, and it kept the cake inside extremely moist.
The most exciting, and experimental, part of the cake were the chocolate leaves you see in the middle. And yes, they are edible. And also extremely easy to make. I cleaned some holly leaves from the backyard, brushed them with melted chocolate and let them harden. The leaves peeled right off leaving chocolate with all the beautiful leaf-details. And they made the cake. (At least in terms of aesthetics.