"Hey, I can do that!"

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Scratch It: Wacky Cake

Wacky Cake

I've been following America's Test Kitchen's "Cooking Through the Decades" contest and this week's recipe is from 1945: Wacky Cake.
Even in wartime Americans were not about to deprive their sweet tooth. Unless they were dabbling in the black market or using precious ration points, homemakers found ways to avoid butter and eggs in their desserts. Wacky Cake sounds goofy but it is really a domestic science experiment gone completely right, in which the chocolate cake is moist and fluffy despite containing no eggs or butter. American bakers learned to have their cake and eat it too, realizing that serving their country and serving dessert were not mutually exclusive.
This is probably the easiest cake ever to make.  The lack of dairy makes it vegan too.  From my internet research, some people suggested that this recipe was made during the Depression and others from WWII.  Lots of people have made this from recipes passed down generation by generation.  It's definitely wacky, from the ingredients to the mixing process.

Ingredients go directly in the pan!  Dig holes in the dry to hold the wet.

Pour water all of the top, then stir.  Bake.  Done!

 Top with some powdered sugar.

My first reaction was, "Meh ... not the best chocolate cake I've had ..."  Then I looked down at my plate and wondered where my slice went.  Apparently I inhaled it.

The texture is pretty impressive for a cake with so few ingredients.  It was fluffy and moist.  You could really taste the natural cocoa.

I baked this cake early Saturday morning.  My daughter woke up and came downstairs by the time I was taking pictures of it.  Lucky her got cake for breakfast!

 I kept trying to get this top-down picture of a cake slice on a plate, 
but she kept taking the plate for her to eat.

Monday, July 30, 2012

"Mushrooming the Cookies" class with Peggy Higgins

"Mushrooming the Cookies" class with Peggy Higgins

It's been a while since I've signed up for a decorating class, but this I just couldn't pass up.  Peggy Higgins from Top That! Cake Designs has been teaching "Mushrooming the Cookies".  These are the techniques she used for her entry into the Confections category of the That Takes The Cake! competition in 2011, where she won 1st place in Adult Intermediate.  When I saw this piece, I was floored!  These were cookies!


Photos of these cookies also appeared on Cake Wreck's: Sunday Sweets that featured entries from the competition.  Notice my green/white/black wedding cake photo is next to it :b  Here is a blog post from Somara Maggi, the 2nd place winner, congratulating her on her entry:

Peggy's tutorial on these cookies can be found in the Nov/Dec 2011 issue of American Cake Decorating Magazine.  

In class we made a more whimsical version with a fantasy face on the stalk.  The students and I had a wonderful time!  Thanks, Peggy!

Working on the cap ... which is a shaped cookie!

 The stalk was a dowel wrapped with rice cereal treats and fondant.

Many techniques Peggy taught for the face were based on her experience with Lorraine McKay.  I've never had a class with Lorraine McKay, but she's awesome.  I, however, am not.  Lorraine is teaching at my cake club's upcoming Day of Sharing!

It was nice to spend a day with other cake ladies.  In the future I hope to take (i.e. afford) more decorating classes.  

The next morning my daughter and I ate the cookie :)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Ruffle Flowers

Ruffle Flowers

I've been asked to do a demonstration at my cake club's next monthly meeting.  Specifically, I was asked to figure out how to do the fondant billows, but I like to demo several techniques when I get the chance.  The demo will be called "Trendy Fondant Accents" and will cover 3 decorations: billows, pom poms, and ruffle flowers.  These are items I'm seeing all over Pinterest, facebook, and in cake deco magazines.  After some internet-scouring research, I came up with my own way of doing things.

First up are the ruffle flowers.  These are fab because they don't require many fancy tools, they don't take long to make, and they don't need any dry time if you're in a hurry.  I don't know who invented or made these very popular, but here are a couple sites that helped me.  

  • fondant or gumpaste
  • circular cutters in various sizes
  • tool for ruffling/curling edges (gumpaste stick tool, ball tool, skewer, toothpick, or even the end of a thin paintbrush)
  • edible glue (royal icing, piping gel, tylose glue, etc.)
  • foam pad (optional)
  • something to go in the middle of the flower (fondant button, dragees, candy, etc.)

1.  Roll out your fondant (or gumpaste) very thin on a non-stick surface.  Here I am using a cutting board dusted with powdered sugar.

2.  Cut out several sizes of the same shape. Here I am using my Progressive Biscuit/Cookie Cutter Set with the scalloped side.

3.  Place your shape on top of a foam pad.  This is optional if you don't have one, but it does make ruffling a bit easier.

4.  Using your favorite tool for curling edges, thin out the edges of your shape by applying pressure.  Once the edges are thinned out, apply more pressure to really start curling.

Here I am using the thin stick tool from Wilton's gumpaste tool set.  To thin out the edge of my fondant, I rock the tool back and forth within a single petal.  Once thin, I press down firmly with the tool and rock back and forth again, still within a single petal.

Notice that I'm placing the stick tool so that the edge of my fondant meets with where the tool begins to taper.  I found that this is the best way to get a tight curl.  I don't roll the tool along the entire edge; I pick up the tool and start again on the next petal section.  Make sure the end of the tool is always pointing to the center of the cut out.

5.  Curl all your shapes until they are nice and curly and frilly.

If you are using the ball tool for ruffling ...
  • Thin the edges out by sliding the tool around your shape with medium pressure.  I move the ball in one direction along the edge of the cut out (like drawing large O's several times).  At this stage, I have the ball completely within the cut out.
  • Once thin, move the ball so it is halfway on the fondant edge and halfway touching the foam pad.  Now you can go to town on it by applying firm pressure and sliding the tool around the edge several times.  Sometimes I rock back and forth along a section too, but always keeping the ball halfway off the fondant.

6.  Dab some edible glue in the middle of your largest cut out.  Here I am using tylose glue.

7.  Place the next size cut out on top.  Apply pressure to the middle of the cut out so it can adhere to the bottom piece.

You can use your ball tool or just your finger tip to gently apply pressure.

8.  Repeat with remaining cut outs.

Gently fluff up and re-shape any smooshed sections with your stick tool.

9.  Now for something to go in the middle!  Here I dabbed some edible glue on the top-most piece and dropped in some dragees.  Use the stick tool to help place them nicely.

I made sure the middle dragee I chose was large and the rest were smaller.

10.  You can allow your flower to dry if you like.  Clean up any residual powdered sugar by brushing clear alcohol gently on the flower.


Try cut outs of different colors!

 Here is a round cut out curled with a ball tool.
The center is a mini m&m!

 Large with small cut out.  Edges painted with gold luster dust mixed with Everclear.

 Easy peasy!  Have fun!

As Seen On

As Seen On Capital Confectioners