"Hey, I can do that!"

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wedding Cake Prototype: Completed

Wedding Cake Prototype
Preparation for Cake Contest
(+15 skill points => 250/400)

Woot!  15 more skill points!  What a weekend.  I'd like to thank my husband and daughter for letting me do this.  What you see here is my first 3-tier cake.  It is a generic wedding cake, serving as a prototype to help me practice for the cake contest.

  • 6", 8", and 10" rounds (each about 3.5", total cake is almost 1' tall)
  • top 2 tiers are Duncan Hines Red Velvet
  • bottom tier is Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge
  • iced with buttercream icing (top 2 are a nod to Sharon Zambito's recipe, bottom tier is from IndyDebi)
  • filled with tub cream cheese icing (I forget if it's Pillsbury or what)
  • shell borders at the bottom of each tier
  • rosettes top the bottom tier
  • reverse shells top the top tier
  • swirlie thingies on bottom tier with dots
  • quilt impression on middle tier
  • dots on top tier
  • fondant roses on tippy top
I learned sooo much from this cake.  I'm a little shaken though.  I'm definitely not where I want to be for competition, but this is definitely a step forward for me.  Here's the scoop.

Two words: cake spackle.  See my previous post for more info.  It's awesome.  Try it if you haven't.  I put the cake scraps I had into my little food processor.  When I had ground up a bowlful, I sifted through it with my fingers to see if there were any chunks that got by.  Man.  In my version of heaven, that's what the clouds would be made of.  Bits of cake.  It was so soft and fluffy, I'll dream about it later.  Anywho, my cakes did not bake up well.  I tried shooting for 2" layers, which means less batter into the pans than I'm used to.  The cake pulled away from the sides, making a slant.

Even with baking strips and a flower nail, my 10" round domed.  After leveling, I wound up with 1 1/2" cake layers to work with.  But it's ok, because cake spackle is FTW.

I've been watching Sharon Zambito's Perfecting the Art of Buttercream DVD.  I tried to apply her techniques and had some fails and some successes.  I did not have good like with a similar recipe for her buttercream.  I'm going to stick with IndyDebi's.

Stacking tiers ... ya ... that's a challenge.  It's not so bad when they're covered in fondant, but I can't tell you how many times I cursed very loudly when I smudged and/or almost dropped a tier.  The middle tier wasn't placed well, so I had to wedge my spatula underneath it and shimmy it over.  You can see the indentation on the right side there:

 Holy crap, I made a mess of my kitchen!

The top has some fondant roses that I made the other day.  I learned this in my Wilton Course 3 class.

Well, I could go on and on about this cake, but I'll just sum it up for you.

Things I learned:
  • When icing a tier, it needs to be elevated on a surface smaller than the cake.  Otherwise, it's difficult to lift up the cake/cake board without damaging the bottom of the cake.  I eventually put all my tiers on  upside-down bowls while icing them.
  • When placing a tier, hold it underneath with a hand and a spatula.  Your hand will guide it to approximately the spot it needs to be.  Set it down and let the spatula park it in to place.  Otherwise your fingers will damage the bottom of the tier you're holding as well as the top of the tier you're placing it on.
  • When applying the quilting mat, be sure to have a the cake on a flat surface so the mat can rest against it.  If you do it freestyle (my tier was still elevated on a bowl), the impression can become uneven.  And my glasses kept slipping as I tilted my head to the side.
  • Cut all supports evenly.  Dowel through the center evenly.  My cake is leaning :(
  • Give yourself LOTS of time to do all this.  You can't rush this.  My "rushing" lasted over 5 hours.  And that was just the decorating part.
  • For the competition, I'm going to use 6" and 8" dummies as my top 2 tiers.  This cake was heavy.  I should've weighed it.  I took this cake to work which consisted of: taking the cake out of my trunk, going down 3 flights of stairs in the parking garage, crossing the street to my building, elevator ride up to the third floor, then a few paces to our break room.  It took a half hour afterward for my arms to stop trembling.  No way am I doing that the Friday before competition with 4 entries.
What a relief to have this done.  I'm beginning to dread the week before the competition!

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