Recipes and Food Stories from the African Diaspora
I feel traditions take stronger root when we are young…
Twirling my hair, I envisioned a Kuumba Bear.
On a checked cushion of red, black, and green,
I dared to dream of Red Velvet Cream.
Remember, when you get the urge,
Never suppress your surge of creativity.
For you see these activities, make your community more
Beautiful and enhance our sense of unity.
Show you care, and let’s all share collectively and reflectively.
The sixth principle of Kuumba is all about creativity. It’s important to encourage the creativity and fantasy in our youth. I was lucky to have a mother who did just that. Today I find myself inheriting her ways of nurturing and creatively showing love through my food, and art. I decided to make a Kwanzaa cake to show a fun creative art form, the whole family can enjoy. Kwanzaa doesn’t have to solemn, but can be fun too. Personally, I have never celebrated Kwanzaa, but if I had a child I wanted to introduce this holiday to, I would start with cake and build up from there. When reflecting on Kuumba, we pledge to use our creative talents and energies to improve young hearts and minds.
This red and black velvet cake is relatively easy to make. You will need some special equipment that can be used over again. All can be found in craft or party store. If you are not a baker, use a good cake mix. But if you do bake, use your favorite red velvet recipe and cream cheese frosting. The large Gummy Bear is from Wilton online. The cake can be made over two days to minimize stress. Bake the cakes, make the Gummy Bear and make the icing on the first day. Assemble on day two.
Kwanzaa Kuumba Bear Red and Black Velvet Cake
Wilton Large Gummy Bear Kit
Red Fondant (best to use a readymade red fondant as red dye is tricky to get the coloring right)
Wilton Checkerboard Cake Pan Set
Red Food Coloring
Black Food Coloring
Red Velvet Cake mix or your own recipe
Cream Cheese Frosting (2 bars of Cream Cheese 8 oz, 1 stick of unsalted butter, 1½ cup confectioners’ sugar, vanilla extract)
Instructions for Assembly of Kuumba Bear Red and Black Velvet Checkerboard Cake
1. You will need to make enough Red velvet Cake Batter to divide among 3 pans.
2. Once batter is mixed, reserve half and color with the black food coloring.
3. Assemble batter and bake according the Wilton Checkerboard pan instructions.
4. Bake the cake layers and let cool. If assembling the next day, wrap and freeze. Working with frozen cake makes working with fondant easier.
5. Prepare your Gummy Bear according to mold instructions. Store in refrigerator until set. Unmold the day of assembly. You might want to make a gumpaste bow tie and paint in a Kente Cloth pattern the night before. Insert a tooth pick in the center of the bowtie and let dry overnight.
6. Prepare icing and dye with enough red food coloring to match your cake.
7. Prepare your cake board for presentation. You can cover it in fondant, ribbon, fabric, etc.
8. Assemble each frozen layer of cake and frost in-between each layer. With the checkerboard mix, the layers should be alternating.
9. Crumb coat the outside with a thin layer of cream cheese frosting. Make smooth with an offset spatula.
10. Roll out your fondant and carefully cover and press around your crumb coated cake. Trim.
11. Use Gum paste or Wilton Sugar Sheets to make black border at base. If any gum paste is left over wrap in plastic and store.
12. Take a small amount of gum paste and dye green. Roll out thin and cut strips.
13. Lay pout strips diagonally on cake according to the picture. The pattern should form wedges.
14. Take a small amount of gum paste and dye yellow. Roll thin and cut out stars or circles with a cutter.
15. Take a wooden skewer, cut down to measure, and insert into center of cake with enough left to insert into gummy bear and fasten.