"Hey, I can do that!"

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Holidays 2009

Happy Birthday, Ashley!
Happy New Years!
Hook 'em, Horns!
(+10 skill points -> 235/400)

What a week.  You know, I'm gonna have to take a break from caking!  The holidays almost killed me!  My kitchen looks like hell.  Unfortunately, I was so busy making the sweets pictured above, I didn't have much time to stop and take photos of the process.  Here's the play-by-play, though.

Stats (Happy Birthday, Ashley):
  • 8" round
  • Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix
  • filled and iced with semi-sweet chocolate ganache
  • covered in MMF
  • quilt pattern with impression mat and quilting wheel
  • borders and script in royal icing (shell bottom border and reverse shell top border)
My husband got me a couple of impression mats for the quilted effect.  I tried the 1 1/4" version first.  The cakecentral forums suggested to roll the fondant a little thick so the indentations could make it look like the fondant "pillows" out more.  I pressed the mat to the fondant and gently rocked it back and forth.  The lines were not very visible ... I complained to my husband of the poor lighting in the kitchen that didn't help.  My husband, bless him, also bought me the 10-piece gum paste tool set.  Following the indentations, I rolled the quilting wheel also gently back and forth.  It was an ok first-try and definitely worth mastering in the future.

The royal icing was mixed with Americolor burgundy.  I must have a different idea of what "burgundy" is ... but I probably just am thinking of maroon.  The color came out lovely, just not what I expected.  Unfortunately royal icing dries so hard ... it chipped and broke off, somewhat flying, as Ashley cut the cake.

I guess my fondant was too dry.  You can see the cracks near the top of the cake.  When it came time to eat it, it was a little hard :(  Back to buttercream, me thinks.

  • fondant was too dry
  • royal icing was too hard
  • earned quilting badge

Stats (2010 Cake):
  • 8" round
  • Duncan Hines Butter Pecan cake mix
  • filled and iced with white chocolate ganache
  • covered in Satin Ice black fondant
  • white dots are MMF
This was my first time making ganache from white chocolate.  A 12 oz. bag of Nestle White Chocolate Morsels was added to simmering 4 oz. of heavy whipping cream.  Ok ... after it was all mixed in and melted well ... it looked like snot.  It was yellowy and too thin.  What was interesting was that it gummed up as I was spreading it on to the cake.  At first I thought it was going to slip right off the cake, but after I got it on, it started to "set" ... the ganache turned sticky / gooey.  I'm going to research this more before I attempt it again.

I wanted to do a New Year's cake for my husband's extended family party, but I wasn't sure about the design.  At the last minute it came down to "cover it with black and throw on some dots".  There's a border of dots on the bottom of the cake that's hard to see.  These were made with my smallest circle cutter and left over MMF.  Satin Ice fondant was lovely to work with, but I still had some cracks on the corners.  It was neat to use my heavy marble rolling pin, which is super smooth.  It took out a lot of work that is usually required to roll out fondant thinly.  Unfortunately I didn't have time to figure out how to get rid of the dusty cornstarch.  I was too hesitant to try spraying and brushing on PAM (suggested by many on cakecentral.com) and I don't have a steamer (like what Cake Boss and Ace of Cakes show them using).  The black fondant looked gray and dirty :(

The cake tasted lovely but I'm still not crazy about the Satin Ice fondant.  I much prefer the taste of MMF.  One little girl ate all the dots underlining "2010" while the rest of us were in the living room unwrapping presents!

  • again, ditching fondant and going back to buttercream
  • black fondant turned our mouths blue
  • white chocolate ganache was weird
  • fondant was dusty looking
  • white chocolate and Butter Pecan cake was so yummy
  • earned badge for covering cake with Satin Ice fondant

Stats (Longhorn cookies):
  • NFSC
  • using Longhorn cookie cutter
  • iced with MMF
My husband's extended family party included a White Elephant gift exchange.  Because everyone is a little tight in these economic times, we were supposed to re-gift items that we already had but didn't want.  I wanted to get rid of some of our extra pyrex mixing bowls.  My brother-in-law's girlfriend suggested to me earlier to make cookies.  In celebrating of the University of Texas Longhorns going to the Rose Bowl this coming week, I made Longhorn cookies placed in a bowl with a rose on top!

I decided to try making the cookie dough and rolling it out without chilling it first.  After filling a cookie pan, I put them in the refrigerator to firm up while I rolled and cut more cookies.  Half of my intentions were fulfilled.  Chilling them on the pan helped the dough not spread while baking.  Unfortunately the dough was so soft to work with, there were many smudges during cutting and placement.

I cut and baked these right after 3 dozen round cookies for more of my "Texas Snowmen".  What I didn't realize was that the Longhorn cookies would take less time to bake up because they're so narrow.  Several of my horns got too burnt to serve :(

Cakecentral.com had many forum posts about getting the UT "burnt orange" color just right.  Most suggested making the icing bright orange and then adding a small amounts of brown.  It took FOREVER to get it to the color I settled for in the MMF.  I had to add more brown than I expected.   It looks close enough, right?

I used the cutter to also cut out the fondant.  Brushing the backside with water helped it stick to the cookie well.  Impressive, eh?

  • narrow cookies need less time and/or less heat to bake correctly
  • can't skip chilling the dough
  • dough did not spread
  • fondant cut-outs fit well
  • earned "burnt orange" color badge
I should have taken a picture at the end :(  They were so cute individually wrapped and tied with ribbon.  No one "got" the whole play on words with the Longhorns in the rose + bowl, so my husband and I had to relay the message.  Oh well.  Hook 'em, Horns!

Like I said ... I may take a little break from all this for a while ;)  Happy New Year, everyone.

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