Tag Archives: friends

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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When Gnomes War

16 Feb

Have you ever woken up, stumbled out of bed, looked outside, and wondered what on earth happened?

It seems my husband was a bit tardy in bringing the yard gnomes in for the winter, and gnomes being gnomes, they became angry about being left to wither in frozen tundra.  Unable to vent their anger upon the large, big booted human, they turned on each other. This, then, is what I saw that frosty morning:

Tiny weapons were strewn everywhere; left behind in their speedy retreat when the big booted human appeared to retrieve the morning paper.

The slow to fly south, quick to fly north birds tweeted for shelter, but none was to be found.

Even the grass cowered in fear.

The wildlife attempted to build a fort, but all was in vain.

The battle was fierce; many gnomes would leave never to return.

Eventually, the wildlife beat a hasty retreat…

… but not before one last, terrible encounter.

Quickly, lest they be caught, the remaining gnomes dragged their wounded to the wilderness in search of their mushroom houses where they would fortify themselves with tales of their heroism during that long, brutal winter when their owners forsook them.

Good grief! Is it spring yet?

 

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.

Hand Me Downs or I must have been Adopted or Banana Pudding

8 Sep

I used to think there was only one way to make banana pudding:

Line bowl with vanilla wafer cookies

Make instant vanilla pudding

Slice bananas

Layer pudding, bananas, and cookies in the bowl

Top with Cool Whip.

Shocking, isn’t it? It’s not that my mom can’t bake. She just doesn’t. At least, not without a box. In her defense, she did have 4 children. Who has the strength to do anything, much less bake from scratch, when you have 4 hellions underfoot? Therefore, my knowledge of banana pudding did not extend beyond boxes.  Not that there’s anything wrong with a box. I’ve been known to use them myself a time or two or three. Spend a buck on a box, stir in a couple of pantry staples, toss it into the oven, and call it dessert for tonight. When PMS cravings hit, there’s no time to waste so I fully give you permission to hit the box. My point is not that anyone should feel guilty about boxes. Sure, it would be nice if you recycle the box, but who am I to nag? This blog is (mostly) about food, so I’m happy to leave the save the earth stuff to someone else.

My point is that we should not forget there is another way. I’d say my great-grandmother never used a box, but I’d be lying like that ex-high school boyfriend of mine, yours, and everyone’s. A few years ago, my mother gingerly handed me a box containing my great-grandmother’s recipe book. With awe and appreciation, I opened the book, expecting to find a treasure trove of scratch recipes that could be handed down generation after generation. Instead, I burst forth with laughter when I saw this:

I guess my mother learned at the knee of her grandmother, after all.

My love of cooking and baking could not have possibly come from these people. Opening that book reminded me of the years I thought/hoped I was adopted. I had nothing in common with the people who called themselves my family. They’re mean, ugly, and stupid. Okay, I was like 13 when I thought that and I had the lack of a birth certificate to “prove” it. When I opened that book, it reminded me yet again how different I am from my family. A family reunion would not be complete with a bucket of the Colonel’s best and Waldorf salad. That’s the extent of their cooking. Mix and toss or drive through. To my great disappointment (at that time), my mother did eventually get a copy of my birth certificate, thus crushing my Lil Orphan Annie dreams forever. Therefore, I must conclude (after taking a good look at family pictures through the years) that my love of the kitchen arts must stem from the entire family’s love of eating. In particular, we’re rather fond of sugar. Thinking further, I started baking from scratch as a newlywed because I was bored. No license, no driver, no tv. Practically the only thing I had was a cookbook I stole from my mother.

So, I dabbled here, dabbled there, popped out a few kids, and kept on cookin’ every time I was bored. Which, again looking at pictures, was a lot. This boredom led to my discovery that not all banana pudding is from a box. I felt quite ashamed about it, actually. Did others know about this? Were they laughing behind my back? Was I only the one who made it with boxes? Oh, Alice Walker, you’ve got some things to account for! I cannot remember which book it’s in, but there’s a chapter where she wrote about her (now) ex-husband and something something something white people can’t make banana pudding something something something. Whaaattt? I’m white, I make banana pudding. Oh, Alice! How could you feel that way?

I read on and discovered that indeed, my “family recipe” for banana pudding is quite different. The chapter included her recipe so I decided to throw off my shame and learn to make it “the right way.” Or I decided to give it a shot to see if it could possibly be better than my recipe. Whichever. It was good. Pretty dang good. A bit soupy, but good. The soupy part could have been me, though. After all, I’m just hillbilly white chick with time on my hands.  🙂

In the years since that discovery, I have tried many banana pudding recipes and tweaked them until I came up with my own. At least, the latest version of my own. I’m always messing with recipes. I still occasionally make the ol’ family recipe, too. My kids like both versions, so I assume the sugar addiction continues for the next generation. Don’t blame me. It’s your great-great grandmother’s fault.

Scratch Banana Pudding Pie

Crust

½ c. coconut

½ c. flour

¼ c. butter, softened

¼ c. (scant) sugar

Mix with hands until crumbly and press into pie tin or 8 X 8 baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about 15-20 minutes. Cool. Do NOT turn off oven.

 

Pudding

4 bananas

1 c. sugar

¼ c. flour

2 c. milk

3 egg yolks (reserve whites)

2 t. butter

2 t. vanilla

While crust is baking, combine 1 c. sugar with flour in a medium saucepan. Mix well, and then stir in half the milk. Beat egg yolks and whisk into sugar mixture. Add remaining milk and butter.

Place mixture over medium low heat and cook until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

While that’s cooking, slice the bananas and place a layer on the crust.

You want the pudding mixture to sheet off the back of the spoon when it’s cooked.

When it looks like that, it’s time to add the vanilla.

Stir that in and pour a layer of the pudding over the layer of bananas.

Add another layer of bananas and then another layer of pudding.

I know, it’s a lot of work so far. We’re nearing the end, I promise.

Meringue

3 egg whites (reserved from yolks)

¼ c. sugar

Chill mixing bowl and beater or whisk by placing in freezer. Glass or metal is preferred to prevent any grease residue from previous use preventing the egg whites from stiffening.

Using the chilled mixing bowl and beater or whisk, beat egg whites until foamy.

A bowl of ice water may be placed under the mixing bowl to speed whipping, if desired. Do not fill bowl too full with ice water or it will be difficult to beat the meringue.

Once the whites are foamy, gradually add ¼ c. sugar and continue to beat until stiff. Using the beater or a spoon, insert into meringue and lift straight up. If the meringue forms a peak and the tip of the peak does not bend/flop over, it’s at stiff peak.

Spread meringue over filling making sure meringue is all the way to the edges to prevent weeping.

Bake in 350 degree oven until meringue is lightly browned, approximately 15 minutes.

Clang the dinner bell, dessert is ready!

ETA: I’ve always had trouble with weeping and meringue. I made this again tonight but tried something a little different. Instead of mounding the meringue in the center and spreading it to the edges, try plopping meringue around the edges first and then fill in the center. Meringue is kinda tricky to smoosh around. As I’m moving it, I’m pulling on the pudding underneath and getting my spatula messy with the meringue/pudding combo. By covering the edges first, I don’t pick up the pudding and it’s easier to get that seal around the edge. Try it and let me know if it works for you, too. Mmm, Pie!

This Just In

2 Aug

This week is gonna be bussssyyy. Groceries, periodontist, the Chicklet’s birthday, last week of class, and possibly Primitive Boy moving out of the manse. Y’all are lucky I’m here at all. LOL I’d like to find the highly degreed person who decides students should have one less day to complete the work plus an extra assignment that includes a long paper for the last week of class and have a “chat” with that person. Do they really think we worked on that paper all quarter as suggested? Yeah, right. Also, I would like that person to know that some of us notice things like the abstract is due before the final paper and the link you gave the students that explains an abstract says clearly that the abstract is written last. Cart before the horse or forcing students to turn in work before it’s officially due so the professor can knock off work a couple of days early? You decide. I’ll keep my opinion to myself until they slap that degree in my hand while I’m shaking hands with someone Important that I’ve never met while trying to smile and face a photographer who apparently is getting a shot up my gown from the looks of his position below. But I digress. Once again. I’m good at that, at least.

I blew off some things I didn’t want to do anyway and updated our PowerPoint portfolio. (Yes, it really is spelled that way.) We would LOVE it if you’d look at it and leave comments with your opinions. How is the layout? Colors? Organization? The fonts? (I kept them all in the Lucida family because Primitive Boy’s explanation about fonts and foots and all that stuff made my eyes cross. Never ask the opinion of someone who wears a t-shirt that says, “All I care about is ink, fonts, and crap like that.” Just shut up and kern for me, k?) I took out the character cakes and such even though they were all made as gifts. No sense in angering the mouse, eh? I think we’re far enough along in this adventure and therefore have enough cakes in the portfolio without them, anyway. We want to know it all- the good, the bad, the ugly, the few, the proud, the chosen…oops! Wrong blog for that.

Let us know what you think while I’m off pretending to be a grown up. Or working on my tan at the beach. Whichever.

 2Chicks Cake PowerPoint

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!

Walking a Mile in Bad Cake Shoes

20 Apr

Written January 20th:

Not every cake can turn out to be a spectacular creation. Murphy’s Law is bound to visit the kitchen at least occasionally, right? If, by Murphy’s Law, you mean exhausted, frustrated, overwhelmed, and brain dead; then, yeah. It happens. When time allows, we can laugh it off and start anew; but what do you do when time does not allow? You do your best and hand the cake over, hoping that it’s not as bad as you think. After all, by the time we’re done with a cake we’re sick of it. We see every little flaw- every slightly crooked line and every hump that shouldn’t so very few cakes leave this kitchen that we feel are perfect. It’s the nature of the human/cake beast. However, what do you do when, as much as you tried, it really isn’t right?

The basic design was good. The details were not. It simply did not look the way my brain pictured it and I had no idea how to fix it. I brought in the chicklet and she didn’t know, either. She said the whole thing wasn’t right. I said, “This is the approved design. I have to follow the approved design.” She said she didn’t like it and left me to my misery. I asked the head dude around here for his opinion. “It needs something else. This part isn’t right.” Okay, what should I do to fix it? “I don’t know. It’s not right. You need to do something entirely different.” Crud. I can’t. It’s 10 at night, I’m exhausted, I’m supposed to be in bed in half an hour and I haven’t even showered yet. There’s no time for “different” even if I could get the change in design approved at this late hour. The only thing to do is go to bed and hope it miraculously fixes itself overnight. Yeah, right.

The original drawing:

 

The only thing not pictured was a guy walking and the actual colors chosen. The birthday dude racewalked, thus the guy walking. To keep costs down (fondant figures involve a lot of labor cost), I purchased a figure that I hoped I could make look like he was walking. In my defense, the packaging prevented me from touching the actual figure. If I had touched it, I would have known it wouldn’t work. I thought he was wax, but he was plastic. Shoot! You can’t really alter plastic too much. I put gray fondant around one foot and decided he was resting that leg on rocks. That’s as close as I could get.

No one thought it was enough. No me, not the chicklet, not the head dude, and not the client. Not only that, the track didn’t look right and I wasn’t happy with the medallion (too one dimensional for me).

See? It doesn’t look like a track. Looking back, I should have narrowed the lanes, added a third lane, and outlined them-plus put in the starting blocks. The medallion should have been thicker and had a raised edge. I should have figured out how to make the ribbon flow instead of laying flat. See the fondant rocks? There’s a soccer ball underneath. Had I not been afraid I would break the plastic, I would have cut off the soccer ball and left his foot hanging in air- as if he was walking. Small catch, though. Not only is he plastic, he’s hollow plastic. I thought he was solid wax. With solid wax, I could have whacked off the ball and adhered a fondant sole to the bottom of the foot. How I would have explained him slapping his knee, I dunno. So, it still wouldn’t have been perfect, but at least it would have been within the realm of acceptability. But it wasn’t. And I was exhausted. And frustrated. And brain dead. And regretful.  Very regretful.

This cake is one of the reasons I did something I’ve never done before. I quit a job. Not “turn in two week’s notice” quit; “walk in on a Monday morning, pack up your desk, and leave” quit. I was nearly to the point of breaking down completely. It was time to go. Now. Not in two weeks. I was behind on everything that really mattered to me. I wasn’t doing things to help my family other than earning money. Christmas preparations would not be finished.  I was submitting less than stellar work for my college class. I had hardly seen the chicket or junior dude during their free time. The head dude was working by my side as hard as I was and the chicklet was pitching in when asked. It wasn’t enough. We still needed another person to do what we couldn’t. Even if that person had poofed into our lives, we were all still exhausted and brain dead. It sure didn’t help that work sucked. Yeah, sucked. I won’t go into details, but it was bad for my psyche. It was all   simply    too    much. And now I couldn’t even cake any more.

Achieving 80 years is a feat. It deserves a “WOW!” cake and I was entrusted with making that happen. I didn’t. There no “do over” on this. There’s nothing to do but try to clean up the wreckage.  I quit the job and went home to bake, shop, wrap, and clean like my butt was on fire to get ready for Christmas. Once that was accomplished, I decided to create my own “do over.” Nope, not fooling myself. It wasn’t going to make rainbows shine over the land once again, but perhaps it would give me a chance to show how truly sorry I am that the confection I provided wasn’t what was needed. I needed to apologize with more than just words. I did what I did was because I am really sorry to have given bad cake. Not cool.

Cake Redux:

THIS is what I should have done (and placed it on top of the first cake to reach the required number of servings). THIS is a celebration of reaching 80 years and dang! walking more than any of us walk at middle age, much less at 80. My sincerest apologies to Jack, to his family, and to his friends. I hope you get together with them soon and eat cake. Good cake this time.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make an apology pie for she-who-put-her-work-rep-on-the-line-and-let-me-use-her-as-a-reference.

Today:

Wow! I can’t believe I wrote this way back in January and never posted it. I forgot so completely that I started writing another post about it because I couldn’t find where I had posted it, so surely I must never have written any of this. I forgot how bad it all was, the craziness that was my life a few short months ago, how much I hated that cake, and how bad I felt for letting down the people in my life.

Now that life is nearly completely hunky-dory again, I think it’s high time I posted how I actually made the “I’m so sorry my life screwed up your life” cake.

Stay Tuned for “Taming of the Wild Shoe” or “Ker-shoe!” I haven’t decided on the name yet. Discuss.

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