Friday, August 28, 2009

My first tiered cake

Yay! I've finished my first tiered cake and the third course in the Wilton series. The bottom tier was the salvaged brown sugar caramel cake, and the top tier was chocolate cake with Nutella buttercream frosting. YUM!

I was really pleased with the way the cake turned out. I especially like the blend of colors I chose for the fondant flowers. I didn't particularly care for the ruffle, but I knew that before I put it on there. I just didn't have time to think up anything better prior to class, so went with the book's project idea.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Boy, do I have a story to tell...

You may have already guessed that I like to tinker in the kitchen. I'm always on the hunt for new recipes, and on occasion, I make them up. What you may or may not know is that I am, have always been, and will always be a Southern Girl. There's nothing like sweet tea, southern hospitality, and the word "ya'll". That being said, there is a great food magazine called Taste of the South that publishes nothing but good, old-fashioned fattening recipes that remind me of my childhood. Each month, in one section, they publish several variations of the same recipe, the most recently intriguing issue being on caramel cake. Despite being southern, I've never had caramel cake, but the cover photo looked great, and cooked frostings are always interesting.
So, let me tell you about my attempt to make the Brown Sugar Cake with Cooked Caramel Frosting:

First of all, I was going to use this cake as the bottom tier of my cake for class. I also planned to pawn it off on my classmates so we didn't have to eat it all.
After a trip to the store to get brown sugar for the cake, and another to get butter for the frosting, I was all set. I baked the cake the night before and planned to frost the cake and cover it in fondant.

I should have known something was up when I had to keep running out to the store. I also should have known this frosting was problematic when I saw the magazine had added a step by step video tutorial for the frosting recipe -- that usually indicates it's kinda hard to do.

The recipe instructs you to caramelize sugar in a saucepan while bringing butter, sugar and evaporated milk to a boil in another pot. Both pans are to be whisked continuously, and should reach their magical moments of completion at the same time. This was the biggest indicator of potential problems, especially since we only have one whisk. I started whisking on my right and stirring/melting sugar on my left. Everything seemed to be going well. So, working quickly, as the directions said to do, I began putting the frosting on the cake, expecting it to turn into a solid mass at any minute. (I have another very easy cooked chocolate frosting that does just that.) It was really runny, but, I thought it was still pretty hot. I let it sit for a bit and stalactites of caramel are hanging from cake. At this point, the frosting does start to cool and thicken, but by no means is it "set". Not what I had in mind. Luckily, I had the forethought to place waxed paper under the cake. I finished glazing the cake and was not impressed. Lucky for me, I'd purchased a can of cream cheese frosting for back-up. After putting the cake in the fridge, the caramel had turned into a chewy, gooey, tasty consistency. Not "frosting", exactly, but it was on the cake. I thought the layer was pretty thin, so I did put the cream cheese frosting on top. Oh well, it was being covered in fondant anyway.

In case you were wondering, boiling baking soda and water completely and easily removes caramel and melted sugar from pots, pans, whisks, spoons, and anyting else you may be tempted to throw away.

While my frosting did not turn out, it did make a nice topping for microwave popcorn!

I'll post the results of the completed cake tomorrow.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


For the month of August, I've been taking Wilton Course 3: Fondant and Tiered Cakes. I was excited to work with fondant, thinking about all of the amazing creations seen on shows like Ace of Cakes or Food Network Challenge.

Just in case you don't know, fondant is a sugar based clay (for lack of a better descriptor) used to cover cakes and give a nice clean finish. It can be rolled out flat, or molded into figures and flowers.

In the second week of cake class, we covered out first cake in fondant. The lesson was a square cake decorated to look like a present. Overall, for a first attempt, I think it turned out pretty good. There are a few details that I didn't have time to finish because the people in my class are amazingly slow! For tonight's class, the final lesson, I'm winging it and not going step by step with the class. I know already that they're going to come with cakes un-iced, or not covered in fondant and hold up the show. I did not prepare 50 fondant flowers ahead of time to not put them on the cake!

After all of the fuss the cake artists on TV make about non-cooperative fondant, I expected the worst. It wasn't that bad at all, except for smoothing the corners. And with patience, that too didn't turn out bad at all. If you've ever rolled out pie crust or played with Play-Do, you can do fondant.

Teaser: the finale cake is a "wedding" cake with fondant flowers cascading down the side.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Dummy Cakes

So obviously, I can't bake a cake every time I want to practice decorating. I decided I would purchase a couple of cake dummies to use whenever the mood strikes.

Cake dummies are basically styrofoam pieces cut to standard cake sizes. I have an 8" square, 8" round, and a 6" round.

Here are a few of my latest creations. I was particularly happy with the floral brush embroidery, and the feet on the baby shower cake (too cute!).

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My Baking/Cooking To-Do List

I haven't baked anything except some pumpkin muffins since I finished the second Wilton course. I'm currently taking the third course, which has two cakes. Until then, I have been mentally compiling a list of treats to make when I have an occasion to make them....The Artist and I would be round balls of chocolate, otherwise.

Things I'd like to make:
Cake Pops (ala Bakerella)
Mini Oreo Cheesecakes (ala Martha Stewart Cupcakes Book)
Chocolate Oreo Cake
Chocolate Quinoa Waffles
Super Hero/Comic book themed birthday cake for The Artist (may be replaced by the Chocolate Oreo Cake)

As the summer winds down this month, so too, do my cake classes. However, I'm always cooking up something or another, so I may highlight some favorite dinners as well.

Spicy Shrimp and Chorizo Skewers
Just about anything from (This site is eyecandy for the stomach!)
Indian food
Huli Huli Chicken

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