Tag Archives: crumb coat

Sawing Logs

21 Apr

Oh, Wilton Bear Pan, how many ways to use you! There’s bears, lions, and uh…and uh…I know there’s a ton more. Beaver! That’s it! Beaver.

Ever notice how there’s not much beaver stuff around? Ever see a stuffed beaver in the toy aisle? A beaver chocolate mold? A beaver anything? The naughty girl industry has taken over the beaver and I say we take it back! Back, I tell you! No more shall we ashamed of the word in public! No more shall we hide our liking for such an industrious beast! Chant with me: Beaver! Beaver! BEAVER!

 Uh hum. Pardon me. Must have missed a dose of meds somewhere. Today’s post is about a furry mammal that builds dams, is the original “Baby Got Back” in the tail department, and has teeth the Osmonds envy. The Castor Canadensis also happens to be the mascot of a certain fraternity (you know who you are, I need not name names).

This beaver starts with the aforementioned Wilton Bear pan. I do not promise to show you miracles for arms, as I still do not possess such enlightening. However, I can show you some stellar tail.

The pan comes with instructions. Follow them. Mostly. Lose your instructions? Here ya go:

http://www.wilton.com/downloads/paninstructions/2105-603Stand-UpCuddlyBear.pdf

While we’re clicking away, here’s a link that shows you some of the many uses for the bear that never poops in the woods:

http://www.wilton.com/shapedpan/Stand-Up-Cuddly-Bear-Pan

 Lose your clips? Wilton occasionally sells replacement here:

http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?id=3E3107DF-475A-BAC0-517051D099ACA8A8&killnav=1

I read on the internet, back when it was the Internet, that you can use binder clips, too. Cause you know everything on the www is the gospel truth. The hubster and I conversed about such an option. After he informed me that there may be leftover oil on them from production and considering the possibilities of heating paint in the same small enclosed space as food, I decided against such folly.  So buy them when you see them.

Back to cake. The instructions will confuse, befuddle, and thrill you. Tis true, you bake him on his head. 

Tis also true you best set him on an old cookie sheet lest you like cleaning your oven.

Look, Ma! Beaver poop!

Ooooh, I don’t think he feels so good. Must have been on his head too long.

All better now? No kissing boo boos until you cool off!

Okay, enough goofiness. Someone remind me to take those meds tomorrow, k?

Take out the core, but don’t clean it just yet.

(I’ve never had one, but this is how I picture the aftermath of a colonoscopy.)

Here is the portion of the evening where I veer from the Wilton pros. I put the core back in and leave it there while it cools. Your choice, your comfort level. Other than that, follow the cooling instructions. First one side…

…then the other.

 

Now, let’s decorate! You will need brown/chocolate buttercream and some yellow and white (a small amounts). If you’re going to decorate the board, you’ll also need green. For the fondant, I used tiny amounts of black and white.

Crumbcoat your beast.

Doesn’t help with the defecation image, huh?

Using the grass tip (#233, found here: http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?sku=402-233), convince the chicklet to pipe the bear. After all, you’ve got a tail to form. Remind her that his tummy and inner ears shall be yellow, or white, before you rush out of throwing range.

While she’s planning her reveng, get out the following schtuff:

Chocolate for melting

Wilton garland marker (http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?id=3E30D6CC-475A-BAC0-58FEDC73887B09DD&killnav=1)

Tape

Wide straws

Wax paper

Table knife

Sharp knife

Ruler

This is the part where we really improvise. Put a piece of wax paper on your work surface. Assemble your garland marker to a size called, “looks right.” (Poinky part facing up) Put one straw on each end of the bendy part of the garland marker. Move the other end of the straws until they are touching or almost touching and tape them to the wax paper so they don’t move. Take another straw (or trim one of the other ones before taping. That’s what my cheap tail did.) and clip off a piece to the length of “that’ll work.” Place the short straw in between the other two. Confused yet? No worries, I took a picture. It should look like this:

Look like tail you’d chase yet?

Before you melt the chocolate, read how to make the tail so you can move as quickly as you need to before the chocolate sets up. Even though my sentence will say, “Melt the chocolate,” don’t do it yet; don’t believe me, I lie.

Melt the chocolate. Pour the chocolate into the mold to a depth you are comfortable with. Too thin and it may break. Too thick and you’ll be on a sugar high until your trainer uses lunges to cleanse it out of you.

Let the chocolate cool a bit, but NOT completely. Once it  firms up a bit (but not completely hard), use the ruler and the table knife to score it into a diamond/criss cross pattern. Do NOT cut all the way through or you’ll have to start over. I am not responsible for do-overs. Now, let the chocolate harden completely and remove the mold from around the tail. Use a sharp knife to carefully remove stray bits of chocolate.

Thank the chicklet for her services, promise her you’ll pay for her carpal tunnel surgery later in life, and carefully place the beaver on the board. Use a round tip and pipe the eyes. Using the black fondant, cut small circles and place them in the appropriate pupil place, AKA “about there.” Cut a small triangle and place it in the proboscis area. Cut two small rectangles of white fondant and put them in the chopper area.

Realize that you have 5 minutes before the beaver leaves to build a dam, smear green buttercream on the board and pipe extraordinarily long grass. Consider it the beaver stocking up on vegetation for the winter. Place tail on the board in the buttage area, wave bye-bye to it, and wish it luck on its two hour car trip. Don’t tell it a horde of college kids who are always hungry and love free food almost more than checks from parents await it, should it survive the trip under the watchful eye of Mattimeo, the chinchilla.

 

Good thing I didn’t name him.

Buh Bye, Beaver Boy!

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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!

Close but no Cigar

17 Nov

Consistency, consistency, consistency. Whether it’s buttercream, fondant, or the finished product, caking is all about consistency. Which I don’t have. And I’m pretty sure I may never have- but that could be the scale talking. Ask fellow cakers how they got so good and how they learned to turn out a consistent product and every one, and I mean every single one, will tell you, “Practice, practice, practice.” Ahhh, but my scale says I’ve practiced far too much. My doc will tell you the same, but his scale needs fixed ‘cause there’s no way I’m that much. No… flippin’… way.

So you tell these lovely cakers that you can’t hack more cake sitting around and they tell you, “Use dummies. Decorate on the side of a box or pan.” Okay, the dummy thing. I’m a dummy with dummies.

 (See this post: https://2chickscakesandcatering.wordpress.com/2009/10/03/fake-it-%e2%80%98til-you-make-it/)

 Aside from that, dummies don’t work for everything unless you want to spend a lot of money and be personally responsible for killing off the wildlife in a 1000 ft. radius of your nearest landfill because once you shape Styrofoam, there’s no putting it back to the original and you will never need that exact shape again.

 Then they tell you to give away your practice cakes. The problem with this is:

1. I don’t know that many people and even they’re sick of cake.

2. It is highly unlikely in this current society of weirdos and freaks that I’m going to walk into a nursing home, fire department, school, whatever, and give away cake. This little town thinks I am odd enough as it is; I don’t need a total shunning happening. “Here comes the crazy lady with more cake. Don’t make eye contact. Just walk away, quickly.”

3. It does not make sense to me to continually give free cake to the people who are your target market. Why would they buy when they can just wait and get free cake the next time I practice? I see lots of “I’ll buy the ingredients and you can get the practice” conversations in my future with this route.

4. It’s obvious I have no solid solution so let’s move on, shall weeee????

I tend to run across cake pans at thrift stores. Of course, I have to buy them. One of my finds is this pan:

http://www.cakesnkitchens.com/servlet/the-725/wilton-holiday-candlelit-3d/Detail

If you don’t have it already, you’ll have to get it used somewhere ‘cause this is older than my kids and my kids aren’t kids anymore, if ya know what I mean. I got this home and thought, “I bet this would make a good body” and felt another practice cake comin’ on. I was able to wait a few weeks, but sure enough, another cake was acomin’. Unfortunately, the execution was a tad problematic. I should have stopped after trying to get the black fondant to work for 2 hours. Yeah. Two hours. On the other hand, my bat wings are looking better.

At first, it was going to be a Bobcat mascot; but I’d already made a Rufus cake this Fall. I’ll show you that one another time. Never heard of him? Here ya go: http://www.ohioalumni.org/bobcats-mascots Instead, I had what I thought was wonderful idea, and it would have been, had I been able to get along with fondant that day.

The directions for this cake don’t say to fill the core tube thingy, but I did anyway. I dunno if Wilton learned later how handy a core of cake is and then the changed the instructions for the newer pans or what, but I filled mine. I used a cream cheese pound cake recipe so it would be sturdy, but having that core still seemed a wee bit necessary to me. Enough explanations, let’s get caking!

Using a paring knife, I trimmed off some of the bumps so it would be easier to frost smooth. I also whacked off the top so it would (hopefully) look like shoulders.

After that, I set it aside and started working on the head and limbs. I made a ball from crispy treats mixed with a little modeling chocolate (optional, but it worked really well to hold everything together tightly). I stuck a skewer in the head so I could install it and checked it for fit/size.

The arms/hands and the feet/legs were shaped from trial and error and previous experience with cakes. They looked rather penile but I kept on trucking and turned the radio on to get my mind out of the gutter.

 When the crispy treats were cool and solidified, I used a small grater to smooth the surfaces a bit more. I got that little tip from cakecentral and it worked fabulously! I’d give you the link but the site is still having issues so I seriously doubt I can find the thread again.

I stuck skewers in the arms before they were too solid to poke. I tried them on the cake for size. It turns out I am occasionally good size guesser, as these were perfect.

Yeah, I know. Penises on a stick. Think I could sell these at the fair? Hey, a gal’s gotta do what a gal’s gotta do, right? Uh hem. I better turn that radio up louder, huh?

Here they are, awaiting further construction:

I crumbcoated everything- no easy feat with the undersides of everything- let it crust, and then the final coat and smoothing.

It’s time to drag out the fondant. As the above picture shows, I started with the head and that’s when it all started to go to heck in a fondant bucket. As you can see, I had a few problems covering the head smoothly. I used a new fondant recipe and it really really really didn’t work out. I’d tell you the recipe, or link to it, but I think it was possibly user error or a combination of user error and recipe poster error. Either way, the stuff would not stretch for God or country or nothin’. It would stretch a little if I heated it, but never ever ever did it stretch enough to make is usable for anything other than flat cut outs.  

I set aside the head thinking I would get back to it in a bit to fix it because maybe the fondant was tired and needed to rest a bit. One two hour black fondant kneading session later, and it was too stiff to fix it. I told myself to stop worrying about it right now and move on. THIS is where I go wrong with cakes; why I lack consistency in my work. I should have kept at that head until it was fixed. I didn’t want to get so frustrated that the rest of the cake would go to crap, too; so I took a deep breath, turned up the radio a little more, and moved on to the torso.

The black fondant is why we had leftovers for dinner that night. After two hours of kneading and tweaking the fondant, I gave up using it by itself. I added more water, more glycerin, more corn syrup, and more powdered sugar.  I melted marshmallows and added it in, I added marshmallow fluff, I tried corn starch and heating it up in the microwave.  I even walked away and let it rest for about 15 minutes, but no go. This stuff would shred when I tried to roll it out, no matter what I did to it. I finally sucked it up and mixed my remaining Fondarific in with it. So sad. No more Fondarific. 😦 That finally got it workable enough to use so I covered the torso and appendages with it and walked away for the evening, still hoping the cake fairies would arrive in the dark of night and fix the head. Failing that, surely the wrinkles would be hidden when the head was installed on the torso. Or the collar of the uniform would cover it, but something surely would save that head. Right?

 

Wrong. Very wrong. This far into it, the next morning I pushed on, telling myself it was a learning experience at this point and I didn’t ever have to show it to anyone if it sucked when I was finished. So, of course, I blog about it.

I used fondant from a previous batch made with a different recipe and extruded the hair, made the facial features, the uniform, and the cutest lil spats I ever did see.

The close up shows the ongoing problem with the fondant. As it dried it started cracking. One of the arms eventually split and fell off. I suppose the crispy treats sucked the moisture out of it. Or the fondant just hates me. Whatever.

 I didn’t have the heart to finish the shoulder nests.

He developed an acne scar looking divot on his face. I have no idea why. Maybe prom was the next day or something.

In the end, Jack (for that was his name) never made a public appearance. There was no way that I could find to fix his flaws, which were numerous, glaring, and ugly. I tried sealing him a box, hoping the fondant would soften without air. After that, I put him the fridge for a few hours hoping that when I took him out, he would start to condense and that would soften the fondant. I guess that only happens when you don’t want it to, ‘cause it sure didn’t work for poor Jack. I gave up and didn’t even try to add more crispy treats to make his legs look more natural or add the white fondant for gloves on his hands. He looked so cute from far away, sitting there on the counter- like a real doll so both creepy and cute. However, up close, he looked like the cake failure he was.

Three days later, I ripped him apart, removed all the fondant, re-iced the torso, and sliced him up for the family’s snacking needs.

R.I.P., Jack.

Ker-shoe! Excuse me while I make amends.

3 May

Shoe cakes are still enjoying some popularity and I am not immune. Since I still can’t walk in heels; in fact, every time I tried to wear them to school it was guaranteed that I would fall in the halls (and I had an awesome knack for somehow knowing just when they would be freshly waxed).  I naturally lean more towards Converse and less towards, as Carrie says, “the big girl shoes.” I also had to make up for this monstrosity:

 

It seems like a dream. You see, I once worked for “the man.” Forty hours every week. Plus college, plus marching band season, plus, plus, plus. I was a tad worn, a tad frustrated, a tad oppressed, a tad plum crazy. Yeah. That tends to show up in cake form when you have a few hours to get it done so you can go to bed and get those golden 5 hours of sleep before those-who-sign-your-check insist you be upright and at your desk again.

I wouldn’t call this cake a disaster. It’s all in one piece. The buttercream and fondant are smooth. The colors are pleasing. It’s just missing something. Stuff. It looks plain, like a grocery store cake. I suppose the purchased dude doesn’t help with that, either. Eh, looking back, it’s an okay cake; but who wants to make okay? I want spectacular, wow!, cool, awesome, how’d ya do that? kind of work coming from my cakeworld. I couldn’t do that right away (see above crazy life), but I determined I would fix this, someday. A shoe cake fit the bill, talked the talk, and walked the walk.

With such popularity, you think there would be a template online for this. Nope. Maybe there is now, but I sure couldn’t find one when I needed it. I’m lucky that way.  Left to my own devices/talent/imagination, I pondered my feet for a moment and realized my feet were still big. Not gigantic-special-order-shoes big, but there are no tiny dainties dangling from my spider veined ankles, either.  My feet, dear readers, are the perfect cake size. At long last, a reason for my suffering! All those years of my parents threatening to just strap boxes to feet have finally paid off!

Hmm, problem. Shoes are dirty. Shoes are smelly. Shoes are not food safe. Well, maybe if you’re an ogre or a goat or something; but otherwise it’s best to keep de feet away from the mouth whether you’re eating or conversating. With this dilemma began many tracings, swappings, and clean paperings to keep anything shoe or foot related away from the cake. I feel it’s important for you to know that ‘cause that’s how rumors start. You know who you are. Silly gossips, rumors are for turds.

As my biz math teacher says, with a hop no less, “Okay, here we go.”

The Tracing of the Shoe:

I wanted to have enough cake to carve away so I drew what would be called a seam allowance if we were sewing.

Notes on template: Carve under toe area, Carve under arch

At least, I think that’s what that says.

To help carve the sides, I made one more template:

Note that once again, I added a seam allowance.

I also took pictures of every side of the shoe for reference.

Don’t set the scraps aside yet. You still need an upper. One upper, coming upper!

Now that we have the basic shape, it’s time to fine tune it. The tongue area needs to be slanted more and we have to create a place to put a foot in- if we were going to put a foot in, which we’re not; but it’s supposed to look like you could. It’s all part of the illusion, folks.

“Gluing” more on to help create the slant:

I remembered to carve under the toe, but I decided against carving the arch. I didn’t want fallen arches and I was fairly sure that’s what would happen if I carved there and didn’t replace it with support. If I have to replace what I took away, why not leave it there and save myself some hassle?

I used a cookie cutter for the foot hole? Is that’s what it’s called? I doubt it, but today let’s pretend that’s its name, k? The depth of the hole may need some tweaking as you progress. Too shallow and it looks stupid. Too deep and you risk the outer sides falling apart. Start shallow and work your way deeper as needed, just like a blind date.

Once the cake is carved as close to your satisfaction as it’s going to get, crumb coat and decorate.

Looks like a clog so far. Fear not, cake friends! Have faith in the power of the caker!

Sing along with me: A fondanting we will go, a fondanting we will go….

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble! I’ll smooth you, my pretty! Just you wait and see!

The tongue is quite a bit thicker on one end. Go ahead, check out your own ‘chews.

Don’t forget to narrow the end of the lace by rolling it between your fingers.

 

(cut two of the above shape)

I used a pastry wheel to quilt lines all along the cake, but I didn’t take pictures of that. I think you’ve seen enough of my man hands for awhile.

For a faux glimpse of the insole:

That’s your basic plain shoe. The rest of the décor is up to your crafty imagination. I added side stripes/arches and a bald dude. A cute bald dude, but bald nonetheless.

Yeah, I could not have done this in the three hours at night I had after working that “real” job.

Real jobs are overrated.

 I say marry middle-class and coast, baby!

Practice Makes Perfect or Perfect Practice Makes Perfect?

6 Apr

Spring has sprung (at least on some days). Feets and arms and knees and such are about to come out of hibernation.  Combined with changing fashions, I have to face the truth: pleated shirts cannot carry my stomach through another warm season. Getting my capris and shorts out of storage didn’t help, either. Dang it!

Something Must Be Done. Drastic Measures Must Be Taken.

But what?

I have to stop making so much cake and buttercream “just for practice.” Still, I do need the practice. My piping skills have gone from so-so, just need to perfect the rose and writing, to “are you sure you’ve done this before?”  I, my friends, have over-fondanted. I like fondant. It’s fun, it’s crisp, it doesn’t involve quite the amount of small motor skills as piping. Plus, I don’t eat much fondant as I practice. I wish I could say the same for buttercream. Fat and sugar, sugar and fat. Yum! I started playing with buttercream again to sharpen my skills. After all, some day fondant will be passé and clients will go searching for the caker who cakes “the old-fashioned way.” I must be prepared, right?

With my sugar addiction in full swing once more, and my summer clothes laughing when I tried to squeeze them beyond my Shar Pei thighs, I’m gradually changing things up in the kitchen. Mr. Handy is cool with salad for dinner once a week (after many eons of trying to slip it in) and leftovers are still breeding like rabbits since the kiddos decided to engage in some strange ritual called “college and job” so it’s easier for me to take those leftovers and make a meal for one that’s not packed full of the carb fest of rice and noodles that my Sugar Daddy, ooops! husband, adores. I’m drinking more (the non-alcoholic, non-calorie version of that word. No need to replace one addiction with another, I suppose). Still, that leaves the cake/buttercream issue. How can I practice without sugar laden goodies?  Everyone I know says they want free cakes, but no one is willing to come pick them up. That leaves a lot of cake in my kitchen.

I never wanted to do this. It seems like such a waste. Waste is bad. Save the earth, save the chocolate, save the buttercream! Alas, the return of my mother’s stomach in the mirror leaves me no choice. I must practice, gulp!, without cake. But, wait! you say; because you are smart like that. What about the buttercream? Does this mean that now I get to eat buttercream by the mixing spoonful since I cut out the cake calories? Alas, no, it does not. With the exception of the occasional, “what the crap is going on with the frosting? cake, my crumb and final coat are not a problem. I can smooth out nearly every crater you throw at me. Piping practice is what I need and that, my dear friends in cake, does not take much buttercream at all. In comparison, anyway. A quart sized baggie instead of the mondo gallon sized ones. Add in that you stick a tip in a bag, and not much buttercream flies anywhere anymore, much less near the pie hole. *Sigh* I’m in mourning. Is that natural? Don’t answer that. I don’t really want to know right now. Maybe later.

Lest you think this blog has become a confessional of purging caking demons, I do have a tutorial in mind. Waaaaiiit for it.

A couple of weeks ago, I was out of buttercream. My recipe takes 4 lbs. of powdered sugar so just imagine for a moment how much buttercream that makes. A Lot. A lot of buttercream, a lot of calories, a lot of inches on the waist. We all know that no matter what we say to ourselves before it happens, there will be buttercream calories on the scale the next day. I like to think it’s magic. Too bad that magic doesn’t transfer to my once cute as heck shorts, huh?

I was firm with myself for once and made an alternate choice.

No, not that kind.

 I’ve heard you can do this with toothpaste, but toothpaste is a lot more expensive than buttercream. I think. I haven’t actually run the numbers, but it seems to my sugar addicted mind that it is. So, no buttercream and no toothpaste. What’s left?

Chocolate

Stay with me here. I haven’t gone off the deep end yet. Probably not, anyway.

Yes, chocolate is still a lot of sugar. No denying my way around that. I also love the taste of chocolate. So much that I will eat sugar-free chocolate despite a case of the toots the rest of the day.  I had been piddling around with the idea of trying chocolate transfers again. You see, I fail at buttercream transfers. I’m missing the gene for it or something. But chocolate, maybe chocolate is the answer. Plus, the chocolate discs can be used in small amounts and are fast to melt and be ready for use when I have an hour to spare to play around. The other handy property of chocolate is: it’s hard to eat much when it’s flowing like Wllly Wonka’s river through the piping bag. You’re too busy trying to keep it corralled to eat much of it. It’s also messy as heck so you spend a fair amount of time with a washcloth in one hand and a piping bag in the other.

So, chocolate it is. Now, I’m not saying I’m a whizz here. No chocolate transfer miracles occurred. These things take time and practice. But one day, maybe; one day I might practice enough and the seas will part and the chocolate will stay put and not lump and I will create awesomeness. Just maybe not today.

It helped that I just read the Whimsical Bakehouse book.

Full of chocolate plaque visions, I tried a beaver first.

Heh. He’s a bit rabid, doncha think?

It’s tough to keep the chocolate at the right temperature: melted enough to flow smoothly but not so thin that it’s running like it’s had too much fiber, if you know what I mean (These kinds of thoughts keep me from considering consuming it in vast amounts while I’m practicing). I did a little better when I free handed a cloud looking object.

Okay, maybe I need more practice. Still, it looks better than my last wrestling match with buttercream transfer, so there’s hope in there somewhere.

What I really liked was writing with it. No messing about with the elusive perfect consistency ‘cause chocolate is what it is. I got brave enough at the end to even try a little freehand action.

Yup. Still can’t freehand. However, notice that there are no breaks in the chocolate. It’s actually even fairly straight. The bottom is even, but the top needs work. Also, spacing is still a problem. I think I need to figure out how to either get a template on the cake and pipe over it or figure out how to remove the chocolate from the wax paper without breaking it so I can place the words on the cake.

Yes, I know about using piping gel and rubbing it onto the cake, but these ol’ eyes aren’t getting any sharper so I have my doubts it would be obvious enough to be useful for me. Plus, I’m pretty good at smearing things when I shouldn’t.

There’s info everywhere about how to do this, so I’ll make this short. You need:

Waxed paper

Image/template

Chocolate discs

Disposable piping bag

Microwave

Tape

You can get the template by printing the picture of your choice from your computer. I suggest one without a lot of details to start. Also, look out for impossibly teeny spaces you won’t be able to get chocolate into.  Like girl child beaver wrists.

For the writing, I used Word and typed with different fonts, and then printed it.

Place your template on your workspace and tape it down to keep it from moving. Place the waxed paper over the template, and tape that down, too. Don’t use tons of tape or you won’t be able to remove the waxed paper easily.

Place a dozen or so chocolate discs in the piping bag and microwave the bag in 20 to 30 second increments. Take it out, smoosh it around to mix, repeat as needed. Stop nuking it when it’s almost completely melted. The remaining heat and smooshing will finish the job without burning the chocolate.

Snip a tiny hole in the end of the bag. You’ll have to experiment a little to figure out the right size. If that’s too frustrating, grab another disposable bag and rig it up with a coupler and a small round tip. Not to state the obvious, but don’t put your couplers or tips in the microwave. It will be pretty, but no good shall come of it. Once you have the second bag ready, snip off the end of the first bag (the one without the coupler and tip) and insert it inside the first bag.

Now, you’re ready to practice. If you messed around with royal icing and cookies, you know what to do. If not, here’s how:

For images: outline the image, including any parts you want separated from the rest like the arms. You are building the image from the front to the back. This means you create the facial features, let the chocolate set, and then fill in the other parts like the belly and feet. If you want toe/finger nails, pipe those and let it set before you make the actual foot/hand. I hope that makes sense. Look at your image for a couple of minutes and think about how you need to build it. You may even want to write it down for reference and to make sure you’re not overlooking something.

The important things to remember are:

Let each layer harden before adding the next

Chocolate spreads

For writing: just have at it. Remember to move your arm rather than your hand and to let the line fall into place rather than trying to etch it onto the surface like you do with a pencil.

What I don’t know yet: how to make the chocolate smooth.

I know I have to keep it melted, but the stuff is hardening in the bag and I’m trying to hurry before I run out of time and it’s a rock again so I just hope it all levels out.

It doesn’t.

It seems to me that it also needs to be cool enough that it doesn’t melt the features I’ve already added (like eyes) and it also can’t push down on those features to make them spread and thus make the image look messy/creepy. Eh, it’s a work in progress.

Leftovers: like dinner, I always have leftover chocolate and I believe, with all my heart, that every time you throw chocolate in the trash, a butterfly loses a wing (just kidding, kids. Calm down). Therefore, I put the leftover chocolate into a mold and, after it sets, bag it for use another day.

Now, put down that frosting and give me 2 miles on the treadmill! The dreaded bathing suit is just around the corner!

Aaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!

 

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!

7 Feb

You can’t control it so you may as well pretend you like it, right? I don’t know about your sidewalk, but mine has barely seen daylight for months. At least it seems like that. Shoot, last night we left the sink cabinet doors open to keep the pipes from freezing. As I sit typing this, a very un-tropical breeze from the window is wafting across the keyboard. Fantasizing about Caribbean islands is no longer enough to escape from the reality of the once fluffy, now crusty, sea of coldness across the land. Simple cabin fever would be a blessing at this point.

It’s hard to remember this:

(http://www.info-res.com/dovesnest/)

When your door looks like this:

I don’t think he’s too thrilled, either:

That’s a major highway behind that rear end. Somewhere.

Fourteen inches on the ground and up to eight more coming. Arghhh! I can’t think about it anymore! Let’s make a cake and pretend we’re still plum full of excitement over the first snow of the season.

I shamelessly borrowed this idea from

http://www.cakecentral.com/modules.php?name=gallery&file=displayimage&pid=1544211

Even the mixer is hiding in embarrassment at such shameless borrowing.

 Nah. This cake was for home and Lord knows the original is better than the copy. The mixer just wanted a moment alone to create this:

It’s my bad. I was making all sorts of noise doing this:

and practicing this:

Later on, it hid again while I made cacti looking these:

In its defense, it’s fairly new around here- meaning new in comparison to the rest of the house since we can’t seem to ever get rid of anything.

Do you foresee Spring cleaning in my future in that last sentence? Good. I’ll await your arrival March-ish.

Moving forward didn’t seem to help the cactus theme happening.

I fear my longing for warmer climes is seeping through.

Let’s see what happens when I try for a snowman to get back on cake track.

Maybe a second one will help?

Why stop to thin your icing when you can do this?:

That’s cornstarch on my finger, not icing. I was smart enough to do that (this time).

He looks rather formless. Time for eyes and clothes. I can’t have the neighbors knowing I secretly make naked snowmen.

Which made him so mad his eyes are literally shooting darts. *Sigh* Time to tap again. I wish my mamma had let me take lessons.

By the way, it really is easier to pipe small things with a small bag. It almost seems like a waste until you remember how much you hate cleaning bags.

He’s nosy like bad neighbors so I guess we better give him something to nose around with.

There ya’ go. Now he looks all Frosty-similar. It’s time for random snow-like objects.

Pointy snow and cacti? The child ain’t right. Time to fix that before mamma finds out what she has spawned.

Whew! That looks better. Ignore the slope; or at least be kind enough to pretend a ski slope gets put there later. Yeah, that’s it.

The bottom looks bare, and you know we can’t have bare bottoms around here either, so I added snowballs.

Which look amazingly like really low clouds in the picture.  It was better in person. I cannot tell a lie (today, anyway), it really did look better in person.

At this point, I got a phone call. I was trying to finish the cake so I could move on and make dinner before hubster got home and the phone rang. Soooo the lettering isn’t exactly centered. I would have fixed it, but it was just for the homies and they don’t care about such things. Don’t care/aren’t allowed to say anything or they won’t get to eat cake. Whatever.

 

Now, dear readers, the difference between someone who half knows how to take pictures and someone who is irritated by people who half know how to take pictures.

My best shot:

It’s got the fancy plain background like it’s supposed to and everythin’ so it has to be the best shot possible, right? Yeah, right.

The “other shot” as we call it around here.

No fancy background. On the messy counter. Looks like a magazine photo. Dang it.

I’d say I have to learn how to do that, but the truth is I’d rather make cake than learn f-stops. Besides, my mother and her soap do not tolerate f words very well. Don’t ask me how I know. Not even my shrink can handle that story.

Just kidding, mamma. Just kidding.

(In case you’re wondering, I used 3 tips for this cake: one star tip and two different sizes of round tips. Now that your curiousity is satisfied, grab a shovel and get your butt over here. )

 

Meet Me Under the Mistletoe

8 Dec

Betcha thought I forgot about ya’, didn’t ya’? Nope. Just “busy, busy, busy” to use those immortal magician’s words. 

For a change, I thought I’d post a holiday themed cake before the holiday. I have a few holiday cake pictures in my collection but since they aren’t created until the week of the holiday, it’s kind of hard to post them after the holiday and not look like I don’t know what the date is. I gotcha this time, though.

Way back when at the Farmers Market, we held a drawing for a free 6 inch cake. The coupon was cashed in recently and the winner wanted a chocolate cake with chocolate mint frosting. The cake was for a church event and she liked the outdoors and Christmas. From there, the rest was up to me. The cake was supposed to be a simple design, per the rules, so I restrained myself and designed a mistletoe cake, thereby giving her both the outdoors and Christmas on one cake. I’m smart like that.

We start with the obvious: a 6 inch cake. This one is actually 2 six inch cakes stacked. That’s what my recipe makes, so why not use all the cake? My freezer is plum full of cake truffles already so I have no need for more extra cake. I have to have room for other holiday goodies in there, doncha know.

Level the cakes (level-ish, according to the pictures)

 

Fill and stack the cakes:

I put a dowel down the center of my cake because, as you see, it’s a bit tipsy.

Crumb coat (stop me if you’ve heard this before).

Finish coat:

Lacquer coat- wait, that’s cars; this is cake. Get a ruler and draw diamond shapes (ish, again. Dear Santa, for Christmas I would like a diamond impression mat because now even hubster cannot draw it.)

(We should have left it like that, but of course we didn’t.)

Try to figure out the circumference of a 6 inch cake, and then decide to wing it and cut a rectangular strip for the top edge of the cake. Roll it out 4 times until you remember to roll up the strip to move it onto the cake instead of picking it up while it’s flat and screaming in frustration when it rips.

Put the strip in its proper place on the cake.

Use white icing and a round tip to fancy up the intersections of the diamonds. Except you will use the smaller tip even if you think it’s not big enough because, as you see, the bigger tip looks like doody.

Try to figure out the circumference of a 6 inch cake, and then decide to wing it and cut a rectangular strip for the top edge of the cake. Roll it out 4 times until you remember to roll up the strip to move it onto the cake instead of picking it up while it’s flat and screaming in frustration when it rips.

Put the strip in its proper place on the cake.

Use white icing and a round tip to fancy up the intersections of the diamonds. Except you will use the smaller tip even if you think it’s not big enough because, as you see, the bigger tip looks like doody.

Between the mucked up diamond pattern and the gigant-o dots, I hope our winner doesn’t have her glasses on when I deliver this.

Next, cut out more leaves than you will ever use in this lifetime.

I scrounged around in my stuff to find the cutter. You can find it here:

http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?id=3E30D6EB-475A-BAC0-5E5EF66C57041711&killnav=1

Dust them with sparkly type stuff.

Make teeny tiny balls of red fondant and dust them with sparkly type stuff, too. Or do what I did- use a pearl maker.

Arrange  leaves around bottom border of cake.

Arrange 3 leaves on top of cake.

Over-leaf the whole thing and remove the excess leaving the top no longer smooth and no longer able to be smoothed. Add red balls for berries on the top of the cake.

In person, it was centered. Seriously. It’s the picture that makes it look “off.” Dunno why. Ask my son, he’s the photographer. I’m sure it’s some really long technical explanation that will make you sorry you asked, but go ahead- ask. I double-dog dare you. My apologies also for the darkness of the shot. Again, ask the kiddo.

Decide the cake is “done enough for  this late at night” and go to bed wondering if you’ll remember to buy a box for it tomorrow so you can deliver it.

Two more weeks of this college class and then I promise to make perfect cakes again. Right after I buy a crap ton of gifts, wrap them, make 2 dozen confections for Christmas, and take a vow of poverty rather than work a 40 hour per week job that isn’t caking.

What do you mean it’s only 2 weeks until Christmas?

Aaaahhhhhhhh! Quick, somebody wrap something! Anything!

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