Tag Archives: wedding

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

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Great Balls of Fire!

24 Jan

Oy Vey! I always thought it would be the mixer. My expensive, once in a lifetime, too good to be true, I’m not worthy, Kitchen Aid mixer. Especially since hubby bought it an attachment for Christmas and I’m weird enough to think that it doesn’t matter if it’s okay with the manufacturer, asking a mixer to do anything other than mix is asking for a meltdown. But it wasn’t. Sure, she gave off a bit of that lovely electrical burning smell earlier in the day for no good reason, but all I was asking her to do is to mix the same dang frosting recipe she’s been mixing for 6 months, so I blotted that smell out of my mind. Maybe the smell wasn’t the Kitchen Aid? Naw, doesn’t matter, moving on. I’ve got cakin’ to do!

Later that afternoon, there was a noise. Kind of a popping sound. I was in the dining room, tuna breath was in the kitchen. He looked alarmed and kind of twitched a bit. Huh, better check it out if tuna breath is skeered. It sounded like it came from the sitting room or beyond. I took a quick look, smelled something odd again, thought it smelled electrical in nature; but again, no evidence of anything awry so I dismissed it as, “Man, I really gotta get out of the house soon.” After all, the farthest I’d ventured beyond the walls of the casa aside from the one minute run ‘cause it’s cold foray to check the mailbox was Monday and today was Thursday. Definitely time to get back into real life and do some shopping or something. Yeah, I know. I still get snail mail. Not good stuff anymore, but nonetheless, I get snail mail. I need to get on better propaganda lists or something since I get nothing interesting in the mail, but I digress.

Electrical smell, popping noise, can’t find anything, may be losing my mind.  Just another day in the manse so back to caking I go.  Half an hour later, the oven timer gives that annoying beep. You know, the one that sounds like a major piece of equipment in the hospital is signaling someone is dying kind of sound. Time to check the cake. Nope, nowhere near done. It’s still all jiggly. Set the timer for another 20 minutes. Better, but the center still looks like my thighs when I run. Tuna breath has settled down (meaning he’s in my way) so all is well in my world. Or so I thought. The timer sounds once more, it’s still not quite done. I think, “This is taking a long time. I guess I should have used baking strips, a flower nail, or something in that bad boy” and go back to caking. Okay, caking and emailing the Frosting Chick. Someone has to keep her sane and let her know there’s still caking in the world while she’s stuck in the pod. I’m good like that. Nothing like a good day of torturing corporate flunkies with tales of cake and housework and annoying life mates. 

Ten minutes later and the cake smells like it’s burning. It must be done. After all, everyone’s chocolate cake smells like that when it’s done, right? No? It’s just me? *Sigh* I guess the “Perfect Chocolate Cake“ recipe search continues. Until then, let’s check the cake once more, k? Huh. What’s that sizzling sound? Suddenly the oven sounds like I’m makin’ bacon. Now either I really have lost my mind or something’s up. I’ve really isolated myself from the cruel world too long because now I’m associating a brief mention of how chocolate and bacon is the “in” thing from earlier in the week chat conversations with the cake in the oven or something is seriously awry. Yeah, it must be me going bonkers. Open the oven, crazy lady, and check the cake. I open the door aaannnnd there’s fire down below. Whaaat?

It wasn’t a big fire. No need to run for the extinguisher (yeah, right. Like I have one.) No need to dial 911 and get the beefy boys. No need to even call beefy boy’s woman and ask if she thinks I should have a meet up with them. It was actually fascinating. A small flame on the front left of the element. Sizzling away and throwing sparks like, like, well, like a sparkler. This is God getting me back for buying sparklers for the chicklet last July. Sure, she’s way old enough to handle them now and she did miss out on all that fun because I’m overprotective, so what’s the harm now? Evidently, I hadn’t built up enough karma or something because this is the harm. Fire in the oven and cake due. Holy schmoly. Look at her go. Oh, crap! I better get the cake out of there, huh? Yeah, I’m quick on the uptake. Shiny objects and all that.

I’m dumb enough to stand there and look at it burn for a couple more minutes while tuna breath has headed for the hills. I finally realized that perhaps it might stop burning if, I don’t know, I turned off the oven or something. You think? I considered getting the camera and taking blog pictures but quickly dismissed that thought as another reason I really need to get out of the house more often. I switch off the oven, pick up the phone, and call my Mr. Fix It at the office. Big fat help he was. He needs the model number. And that would be where? I dunno. Probably in the oven somewhere. Yeah, I’m not sticking my big head in there, the thing is still sizzling like I used to do on a Friday night at the skating rink. At least the fire is gone. The smoke aroma isn’t too bad, so I put the cake back in and hope for the best. *Shrug* At this point, if the residual heat in the oven doesn’t finish baking it I haven’t lost any more than if I left it on the counter.

Mamma needs two things at this point: a model number and the use of someone’s oven. I still have cupcake batter sitting on the counter and I dunno how long that stuff can sit before it’s no longer fit to use. First, the model number. Mr. Fix It will be home in a couple of hours, which means if I find that blessed number in the next hour maybe he’ll take pity on me and pick up an element on the way home.

You should know I’m an organized person, generally. I’m not real pack-ratty, but I do tend to keep stuff that might be useful. Like warranties and guarantees. I’m smart like that. Small problem. It’s not an area of the file cabinet I venture into very often. I long ago moved that kind of stuff to its own drawer in the cabinet. Every January I clean the files to prepare for the new year and the dreaded tax/FAFSA season. I’m so good that this yearly cleaning has already been done, just not the particular drawer I need. There is no kidding 6 file folders and a shoe box stuffed with stuff. It’s not pretty. Answering machines, curling irons, bikes from 10 years ago- it’s all in there. What are the odds the stove papers are lurking in a dark corner of that drawer? 20 minutes later, I know the odds are very low. Just when you think you save way the heck too much stuff, you realize you didn’t save the one thing you need right now.  No dice on the paperwork so no hope of getting it fixed tonight.

Being the techno-savvy cake making mamma that I am, I put out a call for help on Facebook. The place where I can ask a favor without having to actually talk to a human being. Problem though. The person for whom I am creating this week is also on Facebook. I can’t freak her out. Therefore, I change my status to, “Who’s home? I’ve got a problem and I need an easy favor.” After that, I decide to pretend I live in the ‘50’s and call a neighbor to see if a little borrowing of an appliance is possible. She’s not home, of course. No one is. Everyone is snug in their pods except for those who I swear spend 24/7 driving around so as to try to annihilate me or, failing that, aggravate the heck out of me by driving slowly/erratically/while on the phone in the front of me. Either way, no oven for me.  Buddy Boy Blast from the Past catches me on chat and asks if he can be of assistance. Could it be? A hero in a hero-less land? He’s one state over. He suggests I get out my Easy Bake Oven. Yeah, no.  Big help. I don’t know why we keep him around. Pity, I guess.

I brave the oven and look for the model number. On the oven door? On the front of the body when you open the oven door? Inside the drawer? On the instrument panel? On the one side I can see without moving the stove? In the oven? Nope, nope, nope, nope, nope, and nope. Maybe Mr. Fix It is right and it’s on the back of the stove. I’m not moving that thing- there’s a cake in the kitchen and I’m still not sure it’s done! I don’t care if you can now bounce around like your favorite kitchen activity is trampoline sky diving, don’t be messing around in my kitchen with a cake in the house!

Finally, Corporate America disperses its human contents back into the world, and a free oven is found. Huzzah! Cupcakes are baked, cake is done, if all a little extra crusty from the drama, and life can continue. Mr. Fix It locates the model number. Heaven forbid, but should you ever need to know where the model number is located on a 20 some years old GE electric stove, try pulling out the drawer and looking on the body of the stove, on the right. Shut up. The important thing is that it was located.

Before:

 

Thankfully, I keep a clean oven or these pictures would not be possible, if you know what I mean.

Where the fire was located when I finally discovered the problem:

See the ashy looking stuff that wraps around the element? Sparkler juice.

That’s supposed to be all in one piece, y’all. He said I did a darned good job of breaking it. What can I say? It’s all or nothing here, baby!

Check out Woodstock in the background looking dismayed and amazed.

 Mr. Fix It to the delayed, but still much needed rescue:

No, they don’t just pull out and plug back in like burners. ‘Cause that would be too easy.

But will it heat up? You know, my cake karma has really taken a hit lately, so I wouldn’t be surprised…

Whoo hoo! We’ve achieved red hot! Is it too hot? Too cold? Uneven heat? Mr. Fix It says it’s just perfect, but I’m going to test it with an oven thermometer next week when Corporate America steals my buds once again. In other words, secretly. No need to hurt Mr. Fix It’s feelings. Gotta keep him happy ‘cause you never know what’s going to blow up next around here. He was even kind enough to make fish sticks and reheat pizza in the oven today to get rid of any “new electrical appliance part” smells that might be lurking in the oven. Now that’s love, ain’t it?

Yes, he does still have to do something for me for Valentine’s Day. I have to keep him on his toes, after all.

By the way: Frosting Chick asked me if I took pictures while it was aflame. Either we’re both crazy in this together, or that’s a normal reaction? I’m shooting for both crazy. It’s the only thing that makes sense right now.

I’m back in action, y’all! Yee haw!

P.S.- I told you I wouldn’t get a new stove out of this. You know who you are. 😉

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!

Twitter Gone Haywire

29 Nov

Birdhouses are so cute, aren’t they? Little homes for little critters. Someone’s mamma thought so, too, so he asked me to make one in cake-complete with critter. Armed with wild ideas and a Wilton house pan, I set forth to create mamma’s passion in cake-despite the horrible heat and humidity and a great lack of central air. The last part’s gonna be important. Remember it and be kind, k?

You can find the pan here:

http://www.wilton.com/store/site/product.cfm?id=3E3191DF-475A-BAC0-53BA3BD42B6F8C98&killnav=1

I made 4 houses and skewered them mightily to a double layered covered foam core board base. Yes, 4 houses. I wanted it to be square shaped and that takes 4 houses. Now you know why they were skewered mightily. So great did I skewer that the delivery sheet included a diagram for removal.

Everywhere there’s an arrow, there’s a skewer and they were all inserted at an angle and had to be pounded into the board below, with the exception of the one in the birdhouse door. Don’t put the birdhouse door skewer in just yet, though. We’ll do that later. Each house was torted and filled with cream cheese icing, and then the houses were glued together with more cream cheese icing. The whole shebang was then iced in cream cheese icing. Do you get the feeling cream cheese icing is important to the tale? That’s ‘cause it is.  Back to the cake:  I think that’s all you need to know before we get started on the décor. If not, holla’.

Once the cake is upright and sturdy, find a round object the size that you want the “hole” to be and press it into the cake to mark the area. Dig it out as much as needed.

From here, we start with the fondant. You will need white, teal, yellow, orange, and lilac fondant.  I made a mistake which I often make when adding gum-tex to fondant. I added it when the fondant was in the liquid stage instead of kneading it in once all the powdered sugar is added. This creates clumps. I dunno why, but is shore do. However, no problemo for this cake. It just adds to the authenticity of the wood look I’m creating. If you don’t like that look, add the gum-tex at the proper time.

Roll out the white fondant. Cut a circle the approximate size of the hole you created and stick it in there. It will get messed up, but do it anyway. I hate to muck up something alone. When that’s ready, compare your pan to the actual cake to check for size and then cut out 2 pieces of white fondant for the front and back using the pan as a guide. Mark the top and bottom edge of your pieces for even lines. Using a straight edged something that’s food safe, press board lines into the fondant. Now it’s ready to be applied to the cake. Expect the fondant to stretch. Just get it onto the cake the best you can and trim as needed. Press the fondant into the bird hole and smooth ‘til pretty.

Measure the sides of the cake from the bottom edge of the roof line down, cut 2 pieces of fondant, make the board lines again, and stick those onto the sides. Once those are on snugly, go ahead and put in the birdhouse door skewer.

I know you’re asking, “Why is the frosting so lumpy?” No air conditioning and cream cheese icing, that’s why.  Try not to obsess about it. Not a thing I can do about it but hope it doesn’t show thru the fondant so let’s move on to the fencing, huh? Cut out 4 more rectangles- each the width of the side where you will be placing the fence. The height is up to you. Cut these rectangles into boards- each the same width. Now you have sticks and they need turned into fence boards. To do this, cut the tops of each one at an angle like so:

The boards need joined, so cut rectangular strips to go across them once they are on the cake, measuring the circumference of the cake so you know how much you will need. You will need this amount twice. Apply the boards and then the joins to the cake like so:

As you can see, my fencing stops at the door. It was a height thing. Your results may vary.

Front, back, sides, fencing: it must be time for the roof. Wad up the rest of the white fondant, and seal it in a baggie to keep it fresh and soft. Roll out the teal fondant and cut circles- approximately a crap ton.

These will be applied similar to real shingles. Start at the bottom and work your way up.

Part way through, I realized it would work better if I also put shingles along the side before working upwards. This helped me plan the spacing. As you can see, you are going to work your way across the roof, placing the next row of shingles between the shingles of the previous row. Otherwise, it will look weird. Go ahead, go outside and check your own roof. The seams are staggered. They should be the same on a cake house, too.

Again, like a real roof, you have to cap it with a row of shingles:

While you have the teal out, go ahead and cut out the flower box. Roll out bits of white, yellow, and purple, and using a flower plunger cutter thingy, cut out flowers. Arrange all to your liking on the front of the house. Repeat for back, if desired.

So far, it’s been fairly simple: cut and apply, cut and apply. Now we’ll get down to the harder part: the bird. My bird is wacky, but that’s what the client asked for so that’s what he’ll get.  First the picture, then the explanation; at least as much as I remember. I used a picture to guide me and I found it on cakecentral in the galleries. Here he is in progress:

Roll one square teal oval for the body and head. Use the non-pointed end of a skewer to make his belly button.

Roll 2 white fondant balls for the eyes and cover those partially with teal for the eyelids.

For the feet, I used orange fondant and a flower cutter and removed the extra petals.

The wings were created from a rectangle. I rounded one end then used a pointed fondant tools to push in 2 areas on the other end to make it look similar to a wing.

The tuft of hair was created with a clay gun. I made a thin round strand, cut it in pieces, and then joined them together by squooshing.

The beak is 2 triangles of fondant. Before placing one triangle on top of the other, roll teeny balls for the teeth. Place the teeth on top of the bottom triangle, then place the top triangle and lightly press the whole shebang together. Press the non-pointed end of a skewer lightly into the beak to create the nostrils. After that, let it dry with 1/3 of it hanging over a low edge so it dries with a slight curve.

When all that is complete, mark the pupils with a black food marker and join all the pieces with piping gel. Keep the extra hair tufts in case of breakage. Let the food marker dry before you put it all together or you may be giving your bird the bird if it smears.

All that’s left now is put your wording on the board and place the bird. Ta-da! Not exactly a Rockin’ Robin in his ‘hood, but it’ll do.

To answer your remaining questions, the weather played a huge part in the pain-in-the-behind-ness of the creation of this cake. The frosting made everything slide. The fondant stretched out of shape and didn’t want to stay put. It was cream cheese frosting so I had to be very aware of how long it was out of the fridge, too. I kept putting the cake in the ‘fridge to harden, take it out and work on it for 5 minutes, repeat ad infinitum. It took a lot long longer than it should have, it became and stayed shiny, and I never did get it to look as professional as it should have looked. The weather is totally beyond my control. I have no idea what the weather is going to be when I agree to make a cake, so it’s a crap shoot. Nice clients understand this. Not-so-nice ones get their cakes from someone else. 🙂 My client, and his mother, was very happy with the cake, and in the end, that’s all that counts. That doesn’t mean I won’t harp on getting central air, but it does show you that sometimes all you can do is all you can do, and no amount of complaining is going to make it perfect or make it take less time.

Happy Dry Cool Weather Caking!

Let’s ready to Wrrrestlllle! With cake, of course.

23 Nov

For all of our fans who are into watching grown folks fight like cousins at a family reunion, this cake is for you. With one exception, it’s easy enough to make. Yeah, it’s the exception that’s gonna kill you; but let’s cross that mat when we get to it.

Supplies are simple: square cake, frosting, fondant, chocolate and mold, black straw shaped objects, and fondant (of course).

First, the cake. Square shaped. Anything beyond that is your choice. My line between vanilla and chocolate didn’t come out centered. Note to self: bake 2 separate cakes and join them next time.

Torte, fill with gray colored buttercream, stack, settle, and board the cake.

Crumb and final coat with more gray frosting.

Easy-peasy so far, right? Don’t freak out on me yet. The next stuff is still pretty easy, too.

Using gray fondant, create a rectangle tall enough to cover the height of the cake and long enough to go around the perimeter. Make sure it’s fairly thick to prevent tearing.

Lightly grease on side of the fondant so it doesn’t stick together when you do this:

Rolling it is the easiest way I’ve found so far to move it without stretching beyond all practical use. Roll into a tube, take it to the cake, and unroll it around the cake while adhering it to the side. Once you’re all the way ‘round, trim off the excess and finish adhering it. This is now the back of the cake so plan ahead for this and start unrolling on the ugliest side so you end there, too.

Back before final adjustments:

Front:

Grumble under your breath while you fuss with the height (mandatory).

Still keeping it easy, grab a dowel rod, skewer or other implement and begin dotting the top of the cake to simulate a mat.

The deeper dot in the middle was my starting point. That’s the only thing I measured. There are so many dots on this that unless you veer way off course, it’s not noticeable. Although it looks time consuming, it only takes about 5 minutes to accomplish unless you get obsessive about it. I didn’t. The cake had to be out the door at 7 the next morning and it was already after 9 the night before. Obsessiveness is for those who have loads of time or who don’t have deadlines. In other words, not me.

Logo-ize any way you please.  Remember: you cannot sell an exact copy. Don’t call me when the feds come.

(Loosely inspired by: http://www.wwe.com/)

Let’s see: what supplies are left? Mmm, chocolate. There’s no room on this cake for writing unless you want to detract from the look, so I chose to make a chocolate plaque that can lean against the side. Don’t tell our big boy, but I used part of a mold for a baby carriage to make the plaque. Hey, it’s not my fault I couldn’t find a plain rectangle candy mold. The cake must go on and one has to use what one has, yes? Yes. So, carriage mold it is.

Melt your chocolate, pour it into a clean mold, tap the mold on the counter until the bubbles rise to the top and pop. Refrigerate mold until set, unless you have a lot of time. If you have enough time, just leave it on the counter to harden. Once it’s set, tap it out of the mold and inspect it for obvious flaws. Repeat as necessary.

My handwriting still stinks on cake, despite practice, so I cut out fondant letters. Feel free to pipe letters if you can. I can’t (not yet, but someday!) so I fondanted.

The name has been covered to protect the innocent. Or the presumed innocent. Or the minors among us. Definitely the latter. The cake was for a teen AKA a minor, so I covered it. Pervs and freaks and all that. The age didn’t fit so I left it out. Plan ahead if the age must be on it. Elsewise, you’ll end up here: http://cakewrecks.blogspot.com/ if you try to squeeze it in. As much as I love the place, I’d rather not play a starring role, if ya know what I mean.

What’s left? Thaaat’s right. The hard part. Ugh. Do we have to? Can we just skip to the final picture? Please? Pretty please with whipped cream, cherry, and nuts on top? Dang it.

Okay, the ropes. I recommend you find black licorice strings if you frustrate easily and can get away with it. I couldn’t. A caker’s gotta do what a caker’s gotta do. My supplies included 10 black straws and a box of black coffee stirrers. Stash the coffee stirrers for another project ‘cause they won’t work here, darn the luck. I purchased the straws at the dollar store. They had plastic skeletons on them that slid off the straws and make great toys for someone else’s house. No, I don’t know if your dollar store will have them. I looked everywhere for them and probably the only reason I found these is because it was near Halloween. Best of luck to you in your hunt.

The posts are easy. Stick a straw in the corner, and cut it so it’s about yea high above the cake. Nope, I don’t have a more exact measurement. Night before, remember? Remove the straw and cut 3 more just like it. Save any small pieces. I got 2 corner posts and a scrap from one straw. Stick one straw per corner in the cake.

Think and play with straws for awhile. Wake up the snoring giant on the loveseat and beg for help. Walk away when he starts showing signs of extreme aggravation. Return just in time to help said giant join the last piece.  That’s how it works at my casa. Nearly every cake is a family adventure. Bonding time. Yeah, that’s it.

As near as I can figure, this is how he did it:

Split the uprights- the corner straws. On opposing sides, cut down the length from the top to the point you want your first set of ropes to sit.

Join four full length straws together by gently shoving one inside another. You’re going for a complete square when it’s done. Repeat with 4 more straws.

You’re going to slide your ropes into the corner posts. As each corner is placed, cut a short length of straw to hold it down. Cut the length of the short pieces so they come up to where you want the second set of ropes to start. Do the same with the next set of ropes, but higher up (obviously) and cap the whole thing with another short piece of straw.  I know- this description isn’t clear enough. Hang on; I’ll take some pics that will hopefully explain it better.

Create ropes:

Slit corner posts:

Slide the ropes into the corner posts:

Cut a short length of straw:

Cap the first set of ropes:

Repeat for the remaining 3 corners.

Start from the beginning for the second set of ropes until you finally-

Cap the second set of ropes:

Expect to growl at the last cap. It won’t be happy, but it will eventually do what you need. You may need a second set of hands, though.

I know, I know. It’s not edible and it’s on a cake and I have a “thing” about that. I considered all the options- make fondant ropes and let dry, coat spaghetti in chocolate, use pretzel rods for posts, etc… etc…etc…. Nothing would work as well as this would. I needed a certain look and I needed the cake to travel 45 minutes to delivery and then another 15 minutes to its final resting place. My fondant ropes would probably show chatter from my tool and fondant never dries completely when you really need it to. If perchance it did dry, it was sure to break in transit. I’m leery of using spaghetti in general because I’m afraid it will soften, despite many people who use it successfully. I’m just not that lucky in life.  Besides, what are the odds I can coat the spaghetti to make it that thick and that the chocolate would coat evenly? Slim to none, in my inexperience. I looked for a candy mold to use, but there were none to be found. 

All that to say: give it up.

Buy black straws.

I think it’s worth it. Judge for yourself:

Monkeying Around

15 Nov

Dedicated to all those with a monkey on their back, tattooed or otherwise.

Sometimes, life stinks. There’s no getting around it. Nothin’ you can do about it but make some cake and have a party, right? Let’s get baking. Spatulas up, everyone!

Bake a square cake. Shush. Put aside those corner phobias and just relax and bake the cake.

choc cake in pan compressed

Looks a bit crispy around the edges, but who isn’t a little fried these days?

Cool the cake per usual.

choc cake cooling compressed

Yep, definitely crispy. Eh, more cake scraps for me.

Print your picture and outline it on the back (see the sax cake for more details).

monkey template compressed

(My apologies for the glare. I ironed wax paper onto it to make it food safe.)

Cut out your pic and lay it on the cake to check for size. Very important step, don’t skip it and don’t go forward until you do it. Fo’ reals. Avert disaster, test it out.

fitting monkey template compressed

Whew! It fits. Not only that, the crispy edges will go bye-bye, too. What is it about chocolate that does that? By the time the center is done, the edges are hard enough to throw at hubby in a fight. Sorry, didn’t mean to give you ideas. 😉

This is the point I choose to torte and fill the cake. If you like, you can do it after you’ve cut the shape, but I feel more secure if I do it now. One of my many cake security blankets, if you will.

torted choc cake compressed

You like my awesome big cake transfer tortey thingys? Me, too. Both Wilton, thank you very much (http://www.wilton.com).

Get your cake filled and get back here. We’re gonna get out the shiv and do some real damage.

Lay your template back on the cake and begin carving. (Again, see the sax tute for in depth instructions. It’s Friday, long week.)

Partially carve:

first carve monkey cake compressed

Aaannnd fully carve:

final cut monkey cake compressed

Now you can see my real reason for torting and filling first- cake samiches all around, folks! Guess what’s for dinner?

In between bites, crumb coat.

crumb coat monkey cake compressed

Ooh, he’s a bit fugly now. Let’s move on and final coat before I panic.

final coat monkey cake compressed

Okay. Now he’s a bit funky looking. Hmm, I hope this works.

Clean up the frosting stuff, and take a few licks for me. That buttercream is good stuff, ain’t it? Nummers.

Once all the evidence, I mean mess, is cleaned up, get ready to fondant. The colors I used were lots o’ brown and flesh, with a decent amount of red. I think it’s time for a Timely Tip from Timer. Remember him? Hankerin’ for a hunk of cheese? No? Here ya go:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3jgo5ea_zc

Yes, I’m old. Shut up.

Annnyway, a timely tip. I used Hershey’s dark brown cocoa to get the right brown without emptying the entire bottle of gel color into it.

(http://www.hersheys.com/products/details/specialdark/index.asp?name=Cocoa)

 It’s delicious. I need to diet now, but it’s still delicious.

Now that your fondant is ready, let’s get rolling.

Brace yourself against the counter, Effie; we’re going to go fast for a bit. The pictures should be enough description. 

laying brown fondant monkey cake compressed

first brown fondant trimming monkey cake compressed

final brown fondant trimming monkey cake compressed

Monkey cam shot:

monkey cam shot compressed

Get it? Got it? Don’t forget it.

Yeah, I’m old. And tired. Don’t forget tired.

Now, we’re going to dissect. The good kind of dissect. Not the kind where you pretended to be sick in 7th grade so you didn’t have to go to school and tear apart that poor dead frog. Paper dissecting only here, if you please. Forget if you please, I please. Blech.

Trim away the top of the head and the ears from the template, like this:

removing top of head stencil monkey cake compressed

We’re not going to do what you think we are. Nope, we’re not. My way is easier. Yes, it is. Stop arguing. Whose blog is it, anyway? That’s right. Mine. Look, if it’s not easier for you, you can always stop and do it your way, k?

Set aside the big piece with the face on it. Think it out for a minute. The entire bottom half is going to covered with flesh fondant. It’s the top half that is bi-tonal. I said tonal, not polar. Leave your coworker out of this. More cake for us.

Roll out your flesh fondant and gently lay it on the cake. Do not adhere it anywhere but the bottom half. All you need to do for the top is make sure it’s not going to tear. You’ll peel away a lot of the top and it will be much easier to do if it’s not adhered.

laying flesh fondant monkey cake compressed

That wrinkle on the right looks like the back of my knees. Don’t tell anyone.

Place the top part of the template on the top part of the cake, like so:

placing top of head stencil monkey cake compressed

He, he. There’s a funky hair-do idea, huh? He’s got kind of a bee-hive thing happening up there.

Pick up your shiv and carefully outline the inner arch. Carefully. Remember, there’s another layer of fondant under there that you don’t want to muck up. I’m too tired to start over tonight so if you mess it up, yer on yer own.

Remove the template and check out your work.

cutting flesh fondant monkey face compressed

Make a second, deeper cut that goes all the way through just the top layer of fondant. Once that’s done, make a cut from the each side of the bottom of the arc you just cut, across the face and down each side. Refer to the next picture before you do this, because I’m not sure I described that correctly.

Once your cuts are made, peel away the excess fondant and adhere the fondant to the cake.

fondant base complete monkey cake compressed

Hmm, he looks more Princess Leia than monkey now. Maybe if she and Chewbacca had a baby? I think I may have slipped over the tired hill and fallen into delirium now. Maybe if I keep typing, no one will notice.

Dipping further into the dissection arena, cut out the facial features. Better stick to template unless you’re really good at eyeballing. I’m not, therefore I cut.

monkey facial features template cut compressed

Hang in there, we’re almost done and then we can all get some beauty sleep. According to what I saw in the mirror this morning, I can use all I can get right now. Oil of Old Lady just isn’t cutting it lately. I blame the kids.

Using the pieces you just cut, roll out fondant and cut the following:

Flesh for the inner ears

Brown for the eyes and nostrils

Red for the mouth

(I know, it seems obvious. One never knows who’s reading one’s blog, though, does one?)

Adhere the features, and declare it, “all done!” in your best speaking-to-a-toddler-high-pitched-voice.

One last picture, then let’s all hit the hay. In our own haystacks, of course. Don’t be gross. I’s tired and not even in college, k?

completed monkey cake compressed

(T- hug those lil monkeys for me tonight.)

Band Wagon Ho!

9 Nov

Have you ever tried to figure out what you can do with a heart shaped pan that doesn’t look old fashioned? Yeah, me, too. I’m not really the hearts and flowers type. I am all for masses of buttercream, so don’t count me out of lots of flowers on cakes just yet. 🙂

One day, I was cruising the ‘net, looking for inspiration and found a nifty Star Trek uniform cake that I filed away for future geeky birthdays, and inspiration hit: Heart, uniform, band, cake! Yeah, that’s it-band uniform cake!

The first thing I do when using something is to find a picture of it. No problem for this. I have hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pictures of this particular uniform. In fact, every home game I take at least 200 pictures of it. The trick is to find one that shows the front without an arm, an instrument, or someone’s head in the way. That’s why it took me so long to actually make the cake-sorting through all those pictures. Having finally found one, I opened Word and used Auto Shape to make a heart. Then I inserted the picture over the heart. After that is was 15 minutes of “bring to front, bring to back, format picture, size picture” and all that jazz to get both objects they way I needed them ‘cause that’s how I roll. Why do it right the first time when you can do it 6 times and curse along the way? My biggest act of bravado? Not saving it when I finally got it right. A magic thinker, that’s what I am. Of course it will print perfectly- no need to check. Naw, you won’t need to fuss with it again, just one copy and you’re good to go. Or not. Anyway….  I created it three different times and then saved it.

110 uniform heart cake template compressed

(To find out more about this spectacular band, go here: http://www.marching110.org/ . Do them a big favor and go to Kroger’s website and sign your shopping card up so they get moolah to get them to the Rose Bowl Parade every time you shop.)

Then I said a lot of bad words, dragged my son into it, and we copied into Paint just to be able to save it as a jpeg for y’all. Ain’t the new Office Suite great?

Actual directions instead of rambling. Eventually.

Bake your heart. Well, not YOUR heart. Halloween is over, after all. Bake a heart shaped cake. Cool, torte, fill, and then ice it in the appropriate color. Cover with fondant if you’re into that kind of thing (I am, and I’m not afraid to admit it).  

Next step: decorate as appropriate. Done.

What? You need more?

 Umm, I don’t quite know how to say this. Best to pull it off fast like a Band-Aid, right? Right. Here goes. I didn’t take pictures. Not one. Not this time. I have the final pictures, but none of the process. In my defense, it was Friday night. What’s so special about Friday nights? My Fridays right now are this: get up at 5:30, get to work at 7:40-ish. Leave work at 4:30, fight the Nascar race on the outerbelt, buy groceries. Get home between 7 and 9 at night, starving, exhausted, and a tad cranky. Put away groceries, decide that although you don’t care what you eat someone had better put food in front of you in the next 10 seconds or your grumpiness will reach heights heretofore unseen in this here parts. Eat, stumble to the shower, and remember tomorrow is game day and you haven’t planned what to take to the tailgate. Crud! So much for Woman’s Lib.

I can’t just leave it like this so let’s foray into another cake file and look at the pictures I took for the Star Trek uniform cake. The process is nearly identical, so I think you’ll live to bake another day. If not, invite me to the wake. I’ll bring cake.

Where were we? Ahh, yes- bake a heart shaped cake:

heart cake compressed

Torte, fill, ice:

torted star trek cake compressed

star trek uniform cake filled compressed

(No, I don’t remember what I mixed into the icing. Chocolate something from the look of it.)

star trek uniform cake stacked compressed

(You thought I forget to stack, didn’t ya? Never, my dears, neva!)

star trek uniform cake crumb coat compressed

star trek uniform cake final coat compressed

Okay, we’re back where we were. Yes, we are. I checked. We’re back to “decorate as appropriate.” I checked. If you don’t believe me, scroll up and look for yourself. Stop arguing with me. I’m too tired for this. Let’s move on before this gets ugly, k?

Most band uniform collar stand up like the 80’s never left. How surprised were you when the cool kids started doing that again but called it, “popping your collar?” Man, we were cool before it was cool.

The collar is simply a rectangle of fondant, roughly 5 inches long by an inch to inch and a half tall.

star trek uniform cake collar compressed

The trick to getting this on the cake is folding it in half lengthwise and making sure your fondant has plenty of flex. You can add glycerin or corn syrup to the fondant to help it along. Take the piece to the cake, gently fold it without creating cracks, and place it in the dip at the top of the heart. The folding is the hardest part of it. Do NOT crease the fold. Have patience and expect to re-do it as needed so you don’t get frustrated when the blessed thing cracks like your feet in winter.

Once that’s in place, it really is “decorate as appropriate.” I have no idea what your local band’s uniform looks like. I’m sure it not the same as the ones I know, so I can’t guide you much for this part. The one I made in cake form was fairly straight forward. Okay, I decided to not get too fancy. It was Friday night, after all. Mine had block lettering, and piping. Piping like sewing piping, not piping like frosting piping. I mean, you can pipe on the piping, but the piping has to look like piping. Did I mention it was Friday night?

To cut the letters, I folded paper and used my middle school art class skills. Remember folding a square of paper into a smaller square and then cutting that to make letters? No? Geeze, what school did you attend? Click, click, click, nothing. Hmm. I know I’m not the only one who was taught how to do this. Really. I have this friend…. I gots nothing. Of all the sites on the ‘net, no one has posted how to do this. You can try finding a font in Word- something block letter shaped, or stencil shaped, or something. Maybe the kids have something in their craft stuff. You keep looking and I’ll keep looking and if neither of us finds something in the next 10 years, I promise I’ll make a tutorial for you.

In the meantime, here’s my finished cake:

band cake completed compressed

And my finished cake with its little:

band cakes both completed compressed

It’s not exactly as I planned, but the tailgate DID get tailgate of the week. Coincidence? Yeah, yeah, I know. Coincindence. Our tailgate hosts are so awesome, they don’t need cake to win anything. The cakes were finished in time, though; and in my defense, it was Friday night.

 

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