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God Bless America and Give Me Some Cake

1 Jul

I’m alive! I’m alive! It’s a miracle! Err, okay, not a miracle. A miracle would be if something missed me by an eighth of an inch and I lived to tell about it. Or if people saw vining stuff growing up a telephone pole and didn’t think it was a sign from God. Anyhoo, nothing miraculous around here other than my bills are paid. Why I haven’t blogged in awhile is too boring a tale to tell and all that matters is that I’m here now, right?

Aww, don’t be mean. I mean well, I promise. I have good intentions. Almost always.

I have no segue so I’ll just start.

The good ol’ US of A is about to celebrate its independence from some nearsighted king the other way across the pond. I know this because I grocery shopped with the entire population of us’ns today. When do y’all go to work?

If you recall, a few years back, we did this crazy thing called Farmer’s Market. It was a lot of work and we lost a lot of money. During our insane period, I made two cakes that fit the bill for the 4th: a star cake and a flag cake. They’re fairly simple to do and they both could easily be translated into all buttercream if you like. I think someone needs to blog about buttercream cakes. Don’t you? I know I want to advance my skills and would love ideas that don’t involve fountains, stairs, or a star tip. I am going off topic, of course, but still….

Ok, the star cake. Step one: bake a star shaped cake. Wilton has a pan for this. I think. I’ve got one. I don’t know if they still sell it or not. If they don’t, bake a square cake and cut triangles out of it to make it star shaped.

Torte and fill the cake.

Ice the cake.

Smooth the icing and cover it in blue fondant.

Roll a rope of red fondant and place it around the bottom edge of the cake for a border.

Cut out a bunch of white fondant stars using a cookie, fondant, or electronic cutter.

Place stars randomly on cake.

Roll out two strips of white and one strip of red fondant. Roll this out on the thin side. Now place the red strip in between the white strips and roll over them to stick them to each other.

Alternatively, roll out one wide rectangle of white and one strip of red that is 1/3rd the width of the white. Very lightly moisten the back of the red strip and place it on the middle of the white strip. Look for moisture seeping out and dab it away as necessary. Roll over the whole shebang to adhere it.

The alternate way is easier, I suspect. I don’t know for sure because I did it the first way and it was not easy to get those strips to stay together. I think they were only children and therefore did not have experience being herded as a group.

Lay the strip decoratively across the cake and pinch it together in the two or three places you think would look best. Pinch the ends of the strip, too. Yes, that’s an awful description. I don’t know how to describe it any better than that. I do, however, have a final picture of it so you can see what I mean. A picture is worth a thousand words and all that.

Ta da! If I were to do this cake again, I would definitely roll the strips thinner and I would make the pinched parts look better. At the time, it was the best I could do. Now that I know better, I do better- thanks to Maya Angelou.

Oh, that other cake? Eh, next year. Maybe. Right now, I gotta go try to blow off my foot with a sparkler.

Happy Independence/Three Day Weekend America!

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Eat Your Heart Out

16 Jan

Whew! Everyone make it into 2011 okay? We didn’t leave anyone behind, did we? Woo-eee, what a ride! Have you been wondering where I am, if I’m okay, if I gave it all up to become Diddy’s personal assistant? Naw. I’ve been around. I’ve been hanging. With my peeps. Little peeps, big peeps, annoying peeps, and Little Bo Peeps. Or doing endless college assignments, picking up after those-who-are-old-enough-to-clean-up-after-themselves-dangit! and baking, baking, baking! Whatev.

I feel like I should have written posts for a year before publishing the first one. The thing is, you get them hot off the presses and right outta my kitchen. That makes it kinda tough to make a post about a holiday cake when the holiday has just passed. After all, I make my stuff as close to the day as possible. Which means, by the time the kiddos head back to the Ivy League, the holiday is but a distant memory except for the mess they left behind. Luckily for me, I have an ace up my sleeve. Okay, a heart, but still- I’m ready ahead of time for the next holiday.

This time, let’s do something for the less experienced among us. That right, rank amateurs, step on up! If your idea of making a birthday cake involves sticking candles in a cake covered with canned frosting and still in the pan you baked it in, holla! This one’s for you!

Swanky Heart Cake

I actually wrote this a few years back for a friend. I was just beginning my cake journey. Everybody say, “Awww!”

Okay, let’s get to it.

 Bake one 8 inch round cake AND one 8 inch square cake. Let cool for a bit and then remove from pans.

(Chocolate or Cherry Chip would go well.)

Make 2 batches buttercream pure white icing. Set aside approximately 1 ½ c. and tint it pink. The pink should be the consistency for piping. (This assumes your recipe takes 1 lb. of powdered sugar.)

Leave the remaining buttercream white at a consistency for frosting the cake with the exception of approximately 1 ½ c. for piping (make the 1 ½ c. the consistency for piping).

 Place the square cake on cake board, making sure one corner of the cake points to the bottom middle of the cake board and attaching with a dab of icing underneath to keep it in place.

Cut  the round cake exactly in half. 

Frost the cut edges of the round cake and 2 adjoining sides of the square cake. Place one cut side of round cake to one frosted edge of the square cake. Press together until it holds. Repeat with other half of round cake and other side of square cake.

So I’m not that great at fussing with shapes using a computer. *shrug* Close enough.

Using a heart shaped cardboard template covered in plastic wrap, place it in the center of the cake, making sure the point of the template matches the point of the heart cake. Go ahead and mark this space by white creating shells around it or just leave it in place to remind you not to frost there.

Crumb coat the rest of the cake white, let the icing crust and then smooth with your preferred method. If the round and square cake do not match exactly in size, fill it out with extra frosting to make it even and look almost seamless. The finish coat will finish the job of hiding the seams.

Finishing icing the cake with white, let crust, and smooth with your preferred method. You can use an icing comb on the sides of the cake at this time if you like. However, remember you must have a thick coat of icing to use the comb.

Thin a little of the pink frosting to spreading consistency and spread it in the middle-following the heart template. Smooth the pink as best you can. You do the pink last because it’s a little tough to cover pink with white, but not white with pink. Keep checking that it is lining up with the point and curves of the top edge of the cake- you don’t want an off-center heart in the middle.

Using a star tip (a bigger one works fine for the borders but use a little smaller one for the heart center) and white frosting, pipe shells to outline the top of the cake and the middle heart shape.

Again using a star tip, pipe the bottom border with shells and pink frosting.

Cut one Hershey bar into smallish chunks and place around bottom border and on top of center heart shape.

Fill in between the top white shell border and the inner shells outlining the center heart with cherry pie filling. Use a large eating spoon (AKA soup spoon) and be gentle so you don’t glop it where you don’t want it.

Melt another Hershey bar and put it in a squeeze bottle or disposable piping bag. Drizzle melted chocolate on the board in whatever way you like. Alternatively, you can do this with a spoon but your drizzles won’t be as small or as exact as you would like.

Finis! Cut, Enjoy, and Give away the leftovers!

To Market, To Market

6 Jul

Our apologies for the lateness of this post. I think you’ll understand and forgive us chicks when you find out why we are so tardy. We try to give you some new info once per week, but some times life gets in the way.

Sounds serious, huh? Actually, an opportunity to play with cakes came along and we just couldn’t resist.  A friend contacted me, trying to drum up some biz for the new farmers market in town. “Why the heck not?” was our thought. So, we were off and baking! And decorating- don’t forget the decorating. And decorating, and decorating, and decorating…. What time is it? 4 a.m.? Should we grab a couple of hours of sleep or hope our poor old bodies will hold up without any? Sleeeep. Dang! Two hours of sleep is darn near worthless. Have you ever noticed that?

How do you do the whole farmers market thingy? It’s fairly simple, actually. You bake a crap ton of food, design your tables and promotional materials, lay out some moolah for your space, and collapse when it’s all over. Confused? Let me show you.

 Bake a Crap Ton of Food

Bake a Crap Ton of Food

Decorate Said Crap Ton

                 Farmers Market Red Rose Cupcakes compressedblack and white cake compressedflag cake compressed

star flag cake compressed

Design Your Tables and Promotional Materials

 cupcake table compressed

[Remember to check how your tables look from the front (Oops!) Check out the Summer Cake Chicklet in mid-yawn. See? Two hours of sleep is not enough even for the younger cakers.]

Farmers Market Cake table compreseed

Sell Your Little Heart Out

Learn Many Lessons

(like you made way too much food for this crowd)

All in all, it was a fun experience that we’re going to repeat for at least one more Saturday. Next time: less food, smaller cakes. Oh! and more sleep. Definitely more sleep. Really gotta work on those time management skills- after we get some sleep.

 Humongous thanks to our families for helping and putting up with mass chaos last week, to everyone who stopped by the table offering encouraging words and advice, to all the lovely customers who purchased something and complimented our hard work, and of course, to our understanding blog readers who patiently waited for an update!

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