"Hey, I can do that!"

Monday, November 29, 2010

Happy Anniversary, Mark & Erin!

Happy Anniversary, Mark & Erin!
(+5 skill points => 380/400) 

Thanksgiving time also means it's my brother and his wife's wedding anniversary!  Since we had a multitude of pies already incoming for turkey day, I got to focus on making a cake just for them.  

  • 8" round of extended Butter Pecan box mix
  • American buttercream using high ratio shortening
  • filled with eggnog frosting
  • reverse shell border on top
  • bead border on bottom
  • swirlies on the side
This cake really allowed me to practice some basic techniques.  I still need to log many hours in for leveling, torting, damming, and filling a cake ... only then can I also practice icing.  This cake went pretty smoothly.  I used my Wilton leveler to make 2" high layers.  My dam was made of cake spackle.  The eggnog icing was very stable.  This made for one of the straightest and tallest cakes I've made.  

Icing still is difficult me.  After crumb coating, I have difficulties maintaining consistent icing thickness around the cake.  I've been using a large tube tip to apply the icing, but I think I need to switch to something smaller.  My attempts to smooth things out end up moving the icing around too much.  My icing unfortunately didn't crush, so using Viva paper towels wasn't very helpful.  I managed to get some smooth and straight areas with a plastic scraper.  It made things easier when the cake was popped in the freezer for the base buttercream to firm up.  Afterward I could spread on some thin buttercream to even out or fill in any holes.

I free-handed some swirlies!

I wish I had more time to practice these kind of cakes over and over again.  This was still a great opportunity to gain a little experience.  I dream one day someone will ask me to do a wedding cake!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, to Me!

Happy Birthday!
(+5 skill points => 375/400)   

Is it funny that what I want to do on my birthday is make myself a cake?  I'm happy that I got some time to practice my hobby and try new things.  Maybe hubby will clean up my mess ...

  • 8" round doctored vanilla cake mix
  • iced and filled with American buttercream with Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder
  • vertical piped buttercream using Wilton tip #7
  • modeling chocolate topper with kitty cat patchwork cutter design
I bought a can of Ghirardelli unsweetened cocoa powder to work with.  I just used the recipe on the back of the can.  It's been a good while since I've worked with crusting buttercream.  Gotta say I don't miss this gritty powdered sugar.

Hubby and I bought a new food processor!  Now I can make cake crumbs with ease :)  This makes me super excited about my upcoming cake ball class.

Dam using cake spackle.

Leveled using a serrated knife ... um ... I need to get an Agbay.  Can't you see it's slanted???

 Still too lazy and untalented to get smooth icing.

 I've been wanting to try this design that I saw on a wedding cake on cakecentral.com:


Grab some aspirin and get comfy.  This takes a while.  I scored some guidelines along the cake with my spatula.  I started piping vertical lines using Wilton tip #7.  Then I realized I could just make really long zig-zags instead of stopping after every line.  I still stopped every 3-4 lines to give my wrist a break.

 I should have timed myself.

Ick, the buttercream had all these holes.  Too much air incorporated!

Finally!  An excuse to use my cute cutters that I bought in February.

Oh ... turns out you don't cut with these ... you impress the design.

Like this.

I had rolled out some modeling chocolate on my silicon baking mat.  I love how I don't need to prep the mat; nothing sticks to this sucker.  After imprinting the design, it was popped into the freezer for ~1 minute.  On to a cutting board and curvy-cut with a paring knife.

Final cake.

Not as pretty as that wedding cake, but was great to try.

Happy birthday, to me!

Eggnog Frosting

Eggnog Frosting

Hubby loves eggnog.  I'm not a fan, but I sure could eat this frosting all day.  He's been bugging me about cooking something with eggnog ... this definitely hits the spot.

Recipe from "Tasty Cooking Classes with Food City":

2/3 cup sugar
3 tbsp. flour
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1 cup eggnog
2 egg yolks, beaten
1 cup butter, softened
Pretty picture with all my ingredients in bowls just like the pros!

This recipe reminds me of making homemade vanilla ice cream.

Um ... I no longer have a whisk.  It was sacrificed in a different craft experiment.

 This after tempering and adding the egg yolks.

 Let it cool ... it looks thick and goopy.

Beat in butter.

This is definitely not the prettiest frosting I've made.  After beating in the butter, it looked awful, like a bowl of snot.  I was convinced it was too ugly and could only be used for filling.  It was bagged and placed in the fridge for later.  Turns out it was probably just too warm.  Few days later I let the frosting come to room temp and re-whipped it.  Much better!

  • I already had all the ingredients on hand.
  • Melted granulated sugar means no gritty texture, as opposed to American style buttercream that contains powdered sugar.
  • Eggnog was pasteurized, contained no alcohol (typical grocery store brand), and the yolks were cooked ... safe for kiddos.
  • Very creamy results without a lot of butter.
  • High praise from test subjects.
  • This was my second try at this recipe.  Cinnamon does NOT equal nutmeg. 
  • A bit lumpy.  I wouldn't want to try to smooth this around a cake.
  • This batch was a little smaller than I'm used to.  I had to conserve, but managed to ice all 24 cuppies.

Ateco tip #844 swirl on spice cupcakes.

If you're on the fence about this, just try it.  Minimal ingredients, maximum satisfaction.  I brought these puppies to work, and here's what people said:
  • Thanks!  The cupcake is delicious!
  • You taunt me, so. My budget is 1000 calories / day. (ish) *sniff*
  • You are a flavor magician.  That eggnog frosting is delicious
  • I've never even heard of eggnog frosting, but wow was it gooooood! :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Serving Charts, what a PITA!

Serving Charts being a PITA?
Here's the New Cake Calculator!

So rarely do my career and my hobbies cross paths!  Yesterday I was home sick and got an itch to program, especially when I saw multiple forum posts on cakecentral.com about serving size questions.

So!  My original cake calculator is still available.  You can determine your total servings based on the Wilton charts:

BUT if you want to calculator your total servings strictly by volume, my new calculator is here:

This is only good for round, square, and a few sheet shaped cakes.  I'm too lazy to go figuring out the volume of heart or petal shaped pans!  This also assumes that the height of each cake will be the height of your serving slices (e.g. you're not cutting the cake horizontally).

Where does this leave us?  Well, there seem to be 3 schools of determining servings:
Why are there 3 and why are each confusing???  

The Wilton charts were designed to help customers with their baking products.  They are confusing because you have to choose from 4 different charts:
The 2" deep charts are for 2 layer cakes and the 3" deep charts only specify servings for 1 layer cakes.  Party cake slices are considered 1.5" wide and 2" long.  Wedding cake slices are 1" wide and 2" long.  Choose wisely!

Lots of decorators go by Earlene's chart.  She explains that the Wilton charts were just plain unrealistic.  I've avoided making any online calculator using her charts because I don't want to mess with her intellectual property.  I apparently don't mind doing that to a big-wig company like Wilton ;b

What about by volume?  Well, that's in-theory good, but not really practical for the customer.  You gotta be a pretty good cake cutter to get consistent 1"x2"x4" slices for the entire wedding cake ... especially if that cake is round!  BUT it's very practical for the baker because it's precisely the amount of cake being purchased.  If you measure the cake and do the math, there's little room for error (unless you stink at math ... then hey, use my calculator).

Each method, I believe, is completely fine.  The person expecting the cake just has to be aware of the situation and order appropriately.

Bah, now I'm hungry for cake...

As Seen On

As Seen On Capital Confectioners