Car Cake Failure

I hesitate to write this post. I’ve written about the things I’ve messed up but I think this one takes the cake (no pun intended). I was asked to make a cake in the shape of a car. Again, this was a last second cake so I had no time to try and do a practice run. I really wished I had a practice run.

I spent a day or two looking at pictures and trying to find blue prints for the car that they wanted. Specifically, a BMW X3. It didn’t seem too hard to do,  but… I’ve never carved a 3D cake before. I did that tooth cake some time back but that really isn’t the same thing. I was prepared for my kitchen to be a disaster with the carving. I know my kitchen is big, but I feel like the counter space isn’t placed out correctly. Having a kitchen island would be great.

carfailpic1Anyway, enough with my complaining. I’m going to bite the bullet and just write this post out. Below is what I baked. I used a metal flower nail in the middle of the pan to generate heat so the outside wouldn’t burn before the middle was cooked. I figured three would be a good side for an SUV. Looking back on it I should have made it safe with 4.

carfailpic2I used a new recipe. A vanilla pound cake. I was worried the usual vanilla cake that I used would be too soft and wouldn’t carve. Everything I saw online said to line up the picture with the cake and just carve it.

carfailpic3I had issues with it sagging on the sides too. Now the picture below is with the cakes frozen so you don’t see any sagging on the sides, but the cakes did seem much firmer and easier to work with. The picture on the bottom is after my carving attempt. I don’t think I had enough of blueprints to really work it out well. The back was too flat but I felt the top had the correct height and slope. My cutting was sloppy, but at this moment I thought I really had something good going on (though looking at it here I should have used more of the 3rd cake for the roof).

carfailpic4The next step was to crumb coat it. I was moving fast since I wanted the cake still frozen when I did this. I didn’t move fast enough because some parts started to fall off. I should have put it back in freezer for a half hour after I “carved” it.

carfailpic5So I filled in the holes and finished covering it. I then left it out to settle. I thought it looked decent here, maybe a little too boxy but I figured the details would fix that issue.

carfailpic6So here is a picture of what I thought would be my pride and joy… “The Mat.” I’ve heard many things about this apparent “miracle” mat. It was a birthday present. I watched the video on how to “season” the mat. I had some serious issues with using the mat with pockets forming on the fondant and it was hard to roll out. I couldn’t worry too much about it since I had to get moving on covering the car. I must have rerolled out he fondant a dozen times to try and get it to cover the car correctly.

carfailpic7You can see in the bottom picture that I finally covered the car. I definitely rolled out the fondant too thick and put too thick of a coat of buttercream on the car. It almost completely removed the slope on the car. I didn’t have time to redo the entire car since the cake was due in a few hours. I picked up some silver mist spray from Michaels. The didn’t have the silver in the Wilton spray so I picked up the pearl color, and then the silver in the Duff brand. You can see the color difference between the two. On the left is the pearl, and the right the Duff silver. I went with the pearl color. You can see it completed with the spray on the bottom (with the too thick fondant).

carfailpic8After the cake was covered I took out more pictures of the car and pulled up a chair. It was time to add all the details. I was hoping with the details it would make the shape look like a car. I wanted to remove the wheels and cover them completely in fondant. The videos I was watching showed that you push the cookie cutter into the cake and pull out the shape. Yeah, that didn’t happen. So I was going to have to make due. In the future I think you should cut out the wheels first. It just popped into my head, but I should have used a spoon to scoop it out.

carfailpic9Believe it or not, I spent a few hours putting all the details below on the cake. I broke out the pasta machine to make the small and window outlines. I tried to follow the lines of the car exactly. I used edible marker to color in the BMW sign and the license plate.

carfailpic10Now here is where I made a big mistake. I went to bed after I finished the few details on the car. When I woke up, I got the lights ready to push into the car. I got them at a party city (I had to call over a dozen places online to find someone that had it). They are small LED lights that lasts about 8 hours. I pushed them right into the cake… but the fondant had already dried so it immediately caused cracks. I thought about not using them but then they cracks would look insane. I just kept with the lights.

carfailpic12Here is a picture of the car with the lights off and on (obviously). From far away it doesn’t look too terrible.

carfailpic11Now here is the bad part. I dropped off the cake after keeping the air conditioning blowing on it all the way there. When I dropped it off I told them to keep it cool and be careful with it. Clearly something happened to it. It just looks flat! I know the cake I made was on the flatter side, but it was no where near this bad. I honesty have no idea what happened here.

carfailpic13Overall, I was severely disappointed with this cake. I hated making it, I hated it when I was finished and I was embarrassed to give it away. I was going to have a backup cake but it took way too long to do.  Oh well. Here is my car cake fail. My shameful, shameful cake.

Ballet Shoes & Cupcakes

For my nieces last day at dance class I made cupcakes for her to give out to all her classmates at their class party. If you refer to my previous post, I rush made these cupcakes before my final class for Wilton Course 2. I don’t have any pictures of making the cupcakes because they are my normal vanilla cupcake with my normal buttercream. I added some coco powdered into the buttercream and then struggled to get it back to a pink/red. It ended up becoming a lovely color, but after 12 hours it went back to brown. Test failed! Moving along…

Below, are the boxes I ordered. I thought they were very cute and simple, and worked with the pink theme I was going for the cupcakes and ballet shoes.

dancecupcakes1I broke out my pasta roller to make the ribbons for the ballet shoes. I rolled out the fondant and put it through part of the pasta roller to flatten it out, and then through the linguine roller. Below is the pile it fell on. After ripping apart the fondant to separate it, I broke it up into smaller pieces and then put it back through the machine. I broke the pieces up to the length I needed and saved it in a tubberwear. If I ever make these again, I would do this step last to keep the fondant as pliable as possible for setting them up on the ballet shoes. Live and learn!

dancecupcakes2I cut out circles and rolled them out with a toothpick to make a ruffled appearance. This is something I’m going to have to work on more. I struggled to get the fondant to “fluff” the way I wanted it to. I tried rolling it out with a ball tool first, and then using the toothpick but it didn’t work out. After about an hour of fighting with it I got into a groove that I was comfortable with. It would have been a hell of a lot easier to have the ballet shoes resting on a flat fondant circle, but this way it almost looked like it was resting on a ballet tutu. If I do these again though? Flat surface for sure.

dancecupcakes3To make room I put all the fondant toppers on an upside down cupcake/muffin pan. This made sure they didn’t slide around and didn’t bump into each other. Made things easier to carry too!

dancecupcakes4I’m sure there is a nicer way to make the ballet shoes but I just took a ball of fondant and rolled it oval, and then stuck a round tool into it to form a loose shoe. Almost looks like a soap dish in this picture.

dancecupcakes7Lined up they almost look like ballet shoes. I was banking on them looking better when they were all decorated. I should note that this process took me a very long time. I also added little fondant bows to each shoe to tie in the look. I only have one mold so I had to freeze each bow so it would pop out without tearing (it was so small) and wait a few minutes in between. 48 bows needed to be made, and I had to wait about 5 minutes between each. It was a long night.

dancecupcakes6After the bows were on, I used royal icing to glue to ballet shoe ties to each slipper and then used more royal icing to glue the shoes onto the cupcake topper. I tried to place the ribbon as nice as possible without having it break. This is why making these ribbons should be the last step! It would also give the other parts of the topper time to dry.

dancecupcakes8As I final touch (as you can see in the bottom right shoe), I added some luster dust to make it shimmer. I should have made the shoes a different shade of pink then the bottom. They were blending together and looked like a big pink blob. Adding the shimmer made it stand out more. I should also note that it was very hard to take a good picture of these toppers. dancecupcakes9Below was the pretty color icing. This is when it was starting to turn brown. By the time it got to where it needed to be, it looked like chocolate icing. Oh well! I just wanted a light chocolatey taste.

dancecupcakes5Inside the box you can see the contrast a bit better. I originally put a pink ribbon on top of each box to dress it up. It looked silly. I took off all the ribbon. The box itself and the little note attached to it was all it needed. Sometimes simple is better!

dancecupcakes10I finished the toppers 12 hours after I started them. I had to work through the night. I was so tired that I didn’t take many pictures. My dog also took a cupcake topper and ran away with it which led to a semi-breakdown. They are usually locked out of the kitchen when I work, but I was finished and let them walk past. Big mistake!

You can see the little message I had tied to each box. I found the dancer picture from a Google image search and just added it on. Tied it together nicely! Below that are three more pictures of the toppers. I put a filer on one to show the shimmer more since it wasn’t coming up well in the photos.

dancecupcakes11I wasn’t there when they were given out, but I heard people liked them. It was hard work, but hey, if people liked them I guess that’s what matters.

Wilton Course 2: Complete!

Today was my final lesson in Wilton’s Course 2: Flowers and Cake Design. Now I’ll say this… There is no way in hell this course teaches you anything about cake design. Okay, maybe I shouldn’t say that. Maybe it’s different depending on who teaches it or something. But really, we just made some flowers each week. I usually was able to leave after the first hour. I could have stayed the second hour to practice flowers more, but as you’ve seen from pictures and from my complaining, there isn’t much space. Since we don’t have a sink really available it’s a pain to keep switching bags and filling things up. I’m constantly cleaning when I’m home. I also don’t care if I make a huge mess either in my house since I don’t have to pack things up and take them home.

The day after my final class I had to have 24 cupcakes made with ballet shoe fondant toppers. I figured since I had to have a cake ready for class, I might as well get the cupcakes baked and iced before I left that way all I had to do when I got home was make the fondant toppers.

I made the cupcakes, and then made a large batch of buttercream. I added a dash of coco powder to give a light chocolatey flavor, then tried to dye it pink. This left me with the color you’ll see below in the pictures. Almost like a mauve color (after about 12 hours, that nice colored turned brown, so don’t try to replicate it at home with coco powder kids!). The bad thing is after I iced all the cupcakes I didn’t have enough to fill and ice a cake. I had a cake in the freezer ready to go. So I said screw it. I knew the cake I was going to mess around with in class was going to go straight into the garbage so I didn’t even bring one. I had no time to make more frosting so I gave up. Oh well!

For class, we spent some time working on a reverse shell boarder and the basket weave. I think the reverse shell is actually easier than the shell boarder itself.

course2class4pic1For the reverse shell you need to alternate your direction for every shell. You build up with buttercream, then make a half heart drawing for the rest of the shell, then do the opposite for the next, and then keep going. I hope with more practice I can get the hand motions down quickly.

In the picture below if you look at the top and right side of the worksheet, you can see that I was practicing a regular shell boarder. The peaks are a bit high, but I need to practice more. In a pinch, these would be usable I think. Now I had a hard time when we worked with a shell boarders in the first Wilton course. For this class, it clicked in my head because the instructor showed how to do it quickly, and did an entire row. My friend that I take the course with just looked at me, and it clicked for her too. I wish each flower/design was demonstrated this way. But that’s beside the point.

course2class4pic2The other thing that we worked on was the basketweave technique. Below, isn’t perfect. I would have to measure it would better to make sure it was a tight weave. I’m torn about what I think about the weave. On one hand, it’s a clean look for the side of a cake and making a cake look like a basket of flowers is something very pretty to bring somewhere. On the other hand, is it outdated?

course2class4pic3This only took about 30 minutes of the class. The rest was supposed to be decorating the cakes that you brought in. Here is where I think the class should be a bit different. You’re supposed to bring in an iced cake, and a bunch of flowers. So you’ll spend over an hour putting more icing on, and placing your flowers. I guess this would make sense if you were using dummy cakes, and learning how to arrange flowers for the best kind of placement.

Since I didn’t bring a cake with me, I sat around talking about other cakes and such. I’m glad I didn’t bring one since I usually just mess around with it and throw it out. I have to look into when Course 3 is going to happen, which is fondant and gum paste. I was going to try and switch to a different location for it, but the next course for it isn’t until the fall. I have to hope the instructor does another class. Guess I’ll have to wait and see! Until then, I really should practice my flowers. Get them down pat.

Last minute birthday cake!

After the cake pop fiasco, I was happy to be home and able to relax. I was looking forward to getting a good nights sleep. As I sat on my front porch after taking my dog for a walk, I got a text from my sister. A teacher of my niece’s wanted to see if I could make a birthday cake for the next day. I thought she was kidding me at first. No way, right? But yeah… Way… While I sat there for a moment wondering if I could do it, or if I even wanted to do it… I decided I had to. But then I remembered it would probably be easy! I had cakes in the freezer! A 6″ chocolate, an 8″ chocolate, and about 5 pounds of buttercream. I was told the person ordering wanted to try something different (usually orders vanilla with vanilla buttercream). So I figured I could make my normal vanilla cake, but maybe try a custard. If that was the case, I really didn’t have much to make! Easy peasy! Let’s go for it!

ImageI’m not sure why I haven’t learned by now. Disaster traveled with me the rest of the night. God. Will it ever be easy? I started the evening off with making the vanilla cake. I made it like I always do. I put the bake even strips on, oiled the pan, put down the parchment paper, everything normal. But for some reason, they didn’t rise correctly. And then when I tried to pull the parchment paper off, chunks of the cake came with it! I was baffled. No idea why this was happening. I didn’t trust making the cakes with these, so I started over. But again, flashing forward another hour and a half, the very same thing happened. No idea why! Why would it stick to parchment paper? Why? I still can’t figure it out. Just looking at these pictures makes me upset about it all over again.

ImageAfter I had my broken vanilla cakes sitting all sad looking on their wire racks, I set up my chocolate cake. My plan for the birthday cake was a two tier: 8″ and 6″. Since I already had an 8″ chocolate and an 6″, I just cut the 8″ down to a 6″ so I wouldn’t have to make another chocolate cake. Bonus!

ImageI made a chocolate buttercream for the filling in the top layer of the cake. I figured this would be different for them, but I was told that someone at the party hates chocolate and I wanted to keep all the chocolate in one layer.

Below, you can see my attempt at filling the bottom layer with a vanilla custard. I found a recipe that seemed easy to make. It took an extremely long time to cool after I finally got it at the right consistency I needed as a cake filling. It tasted okay, as I expect a custard to taste. I piped a buttercream dam around the edge. A little voice in my head told me I should make a bigger dam (in fact, I should get a bigger round tip, going to make a note of that). Anyway, I filled in the cake and I knew it was already a bad idea. But I figured, hey! Maybe I’m wrong. Let’s stack it and see.

No, no no. Horrible. As you can see in the picture below the buttercream dam started to push outside of the crumb coat. I waited longer to see what would happen, and the custard began to leak out of the cake. I was very upset. I tried plugging the holes, and wiping away the custard, anything that I thought would work. Things were going wrong one after the other and at this point and I was again questioning why I do this to myself. I should admit, I even threw a spatula across the kitchen at one point. I was pretty angry.

14bdaycake4So here is where a slightly positive thing happened. I had to toss the cake with the custard. There was no way I could hope the custard would stay in place so I had to make a new bottom for the cake. Now earlier in the day, I made an extra two vanilla cakes because of that parchment problem. So luckily I was able to level and fill those extra two cakes and fill them with buttercream. I really wanted the custard to work. But if I think about how things ended up, maybe it was a good thing all these bad things happened because I was told that the custard and cake didn’t taste great. I’ll have to work on that at some point. On weeks that I don’t have anything to do, like this week because I had a canceled cake, I should be practice more cakes. Ah well, soon enough I suppose.

Anyway. I used a 1M tip and piped swirls on the cake. I made a ton of purple buttercream and then the two lighter colors. I took purple fondant and cut out two circles and a heart. Shaped it with a toothpick to make a little dress. I decorated it with royal icing and a flower. I set it up to dry until right before I had to deliver the cake. The dress was easy to make actually. I should make more of these for simple decorations.

14bdaycake5Below is a closeup picture of the little dress I made. I wasn’t sure how to use it as the cake topper since I didn’t want the bottom to sink into the buttercream. I ended up making a large ball of fondant and sticking it into the cake, then taking a toothpick and attaching the ball inside the cake, and the ball under the dress (that was helping to shape it). This held the dress just above the buttercream.

14bdaycake6I then took another piece of fondant and wrote out happy birthday on it. I’m not a big fan on my handwriting, but if I had more time, and more fondant I would have practiced this more. Also, this would be good to add to the cake before the buttercream crusts so it doesn’t make any of the flowers crack.

14bdaycake7The cake almost made it there without fault. I didn’t think to “glue” the bottom cake board to the larger board. It ended up sliding into the large box I can it in and smashing a flower. So, something else I’ve learned is to make sure that cake is glued with royal icing, or buttercream, or both! Just make sure it can’t move.

It ended up being a very long night for something I thought I could do in a few hours. Oh well.

Construction Cake Pops vs. Brain Cells

A friend of mine referred me to her boss for a 5th birthday party. I was surprised that I got an e-mail to follow! I was told that the party was at Home Depot and she was looking for cake pops. Ah, cake pops. I’ve never made them before. They seem pretty simple, but since I never made them before there is always that tiny bit (or a big bit) of apprehension. A cake, cupcakes, or even cookies was something I already began looking up, so cake pops threw me for a loop. I was originally asked for the cake pops to be shaped into something associated with the construction theme, like tools. I didn’t think this would be possible.  I saw one of two options: (1) make a regular cake pop and attach mini fondant tool shapes to the top of each one, or (2) make the cake pops into shapes I might actually be able to do. We went with option 2, with the goal of making 10 construction cone cake pops and 10 hard hat cake pops.

So with panic about, I went at it. Cake pops ahoy! I should mention, the cake pops in the little cake pop machines aren’t what people are usually looking for. They want the moist ones. I lucked out that they wanted vanilla cake with chocolate buttercream, and chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream. I offered many options, including red velvet and peanut butter and jam (seriously?). I never made those combinations before. It reminded me I need to test out more cakes in my spare time. At some point someone is going to want something other than vanilla and chocolate! I found this recipe that sounded pretty good. I’m not sure why I didn’t go with my normal chocolate cake recipe, but anyway:

ImageThis cake was a pain in my neck to make. I followed the instructions which included having a dry mixture set up, a boiling water and coco powder one, and a milk and vanilla bowl… I can things everywhere. Running around the kitchen like and insane person. But as you can see below the cakes came out nice and level so I was happy with that.

ImageI knew I wouldn’t need this much cake so I decided to freeze 1/2 of the cakes. So 1 chocolate cake and 1 vanilla cake. I’ve recently learned that some people think freezing cakes is a bad idea, that it isn’t fair to the people you serve it to. I’m a bit confused by this. The freeze is a good friend of mine. I always buy in bulk and freeze almost everything (well, within reason). The cake tastes exactly the same and its easier to level when frozen. But, to each their own.

ImageI know you can shred the cake by hand but I threw mine in my KitchenAid and let that do the job for me. I waited until it was broken down into fine crumbs then slowly added in the chocolate buttercream. I started with two tablespoons and let it mix again. It wasn’t at a play-doh like consistency yet so I added a little bit more. The picture on the lower right shows some of the mixture sticking to the sides of the bowl. I thought this would be an issue, but it wasn’t. So if this happens to you, just ignore it.

ImageThe picture below shows more of the consistency I was looking for. I kept the cake covered while I rolled out the balls. I didn’t want it to dry out.

ImageJust one 8 inch cake makes a ton of cake pops. I used a small scooper but I still didn’t get them all the same size. I guess it really doesn’t matter once th3ey are all bagged and decorated. But looking at this picture you can see how different in size they all were. It is very easy to roll them into a ball. Possibly years of rolling meatballs has helped here.

ImageI used a frozen vanilla cake that I had. Below, you can see how I broke up and mixed the cake. In the bottom right picture you can see that I formed the vanilla ones into little cone shapes. They are easy to form into the shape you need, but If I was going to try something more detailed or with a pointed edge, I think I would need more buttercream. I would have to try that sometime in the future.

ImageWhen I was looking up some guides to making cake pops one of the articles I read suggested that you keep a cup of extra crumbs set aside in case you add too much buttercream to the mixture , you’ll be able to toughen it back up. Because I didn’t need to do this, I add extra cup of vanilla cake and chocolate cake. I figured I wouldn’t let it go to waste and combined them both to make extra cake balls to store. The medium color was the combination cake balls. I had a lot of extra cake pops to freeze. This ended up being great because I needed extra. Sometimes the candy melts wouldn’t dry right, or a pop would get ruined, and then for some I had to re-do because I just didn’t like the way it looked. Bottom line? Making extra is good!

ImageThe hard hats were much easier to make than the traffic cones. For the hats, I first carved a little crescent moon shape out of the yellow candy melts (I used Wilton), and “glued” it to the cake pop with melted candy melts. This took a little bit to get right. They were sticking out a bit on the sides, but eventually I realized when the pop was dipped it would fill in the sides. You need to make sure the piece you cut out is large enough. With a few layers of melts it will look like a little bump on the hat. (Side note: Pretty sure if I added eyes, I could have made this a duck… Moving on.) After the hat dried (and it dried quickly), I put some extra melts into a piping bag and cut the tip off. I piped three lines like a hard hat has on the top. I tried to add some more detail on the sides at first, but it just didn’t look right. I think these turned out pretty good. I should also note, that when making the candy melts I put them in the microwave at 50% power at 30 second intervals. Once it was almost completely melted, I added in a teaspoon of Crisco to make sure it was thin enough. I read some complaints about Wilton being too clumpy on cake pops but if you add Crisco or Paramount Crystals it solves this problem. I couldn’t get the Paramount Crystals in time, but Crisco did the trick.

ImageNow for the pain. I figured these would be easier to make than the hard hats. I was very wrong about that. So I molded the cake into a little cone. I put some candy melt onto the stick before I put it into the cake pop. I didn’t want for it to dry. This worked out pretty well, but if the cake pops warmed up too much, they would get stuck in the candy melts. I had them in the freezer for a few hours, then moved them into the fridge as I set up until they weren’t solid anymore. They sat on the counter as I melted the candy melts. I’m hoping I can remember this process next time. I’ve read about the pop being too cold can lead to cracking as the melts dry.

Anyway, I tend to ramble! You can see in the bottom picture the squares on the counter. I ordered a plastic mold for chocolates for squares. I put them in the freezer for about 5-10 minutes until they hardened. I then took a knife and spun a hole into the bottom of the square until I reached the other side. Once I did I was able to spin the candy stick into the square. I then used some melts to attach the two pieces together.

ImageOkay. So below you can see the squares attached to the cones. I probably should have left them as is, but I thought it looked too disjointed. The picture on the bottom was my first shot at making the cones. I added more orange so they would look like one piece. I seriously struggled with adding the white lines. If I left it thick enough to stay in place when I put it on the pop, it would look so sloppy since it would dry so fast (like it does below). If i thinned it so it would be easy to manipulate, it would take too long to dry. I would have to put it on in sections and it still wouldn’t look right. After showing some people the picture, they all were in agreement that they didn’t look good and I should try again. Thank goodness for all those extra cake pops in my freezer!

ImageTime to try again! I figured maybe if I had the squares on the stick first, then added the cone, it would look better. Seamless even? Below is a better picture of putting the holes in the squares. I set them up on the sticks and then prepared the cone pops again.

ImageSince I had to go back to the store and buy more candy melts, I found these Wilton candy decorating tips. I figured maybe I could use those to pipe the white lines easier without getting clogged. When I used the metal piping tips it dried closed almost instantly. Below, you can see the result of adding the still wet cone directly to the square. It does look a bit better, but I still wasn’t a fan.

ImageI wasn’t successful in getting the white lines the way I wanted them, but I ran out of time. I had to deliver the cake pops to the office of the woman who ordered them. It was an hour drive away and I wanted to try and make it there before heavy traffic started. She only wanted them individually bagged, so I put them in the box below laid out. I picked out the best cones and just went with it.

ImageSo here is where I had a breakdown: I already struggled with the cake pops, and had to run to the store first thing in the morning to rush making new ones. So I get in the car, and drive an hour to the location. The parking lot was a zoo. I had to keep driving around just to find a spot. When I finally did, the spot was so small I struggled getting the box out of the car… and BAM! Somehow… I broke two of them. Smashed flat. I just started at them in shock for a long period of time, completely devastated. I contacted my friend who worked with the customer and told her what happened. I gave her the two broken cake pops, and told the client that I would have to drop off the cake pops on the day of the party. If it was actually the day of the party, I would have had someone bring me the spares at home and meet me half way… I would have been an hour late, but I would have gotten them there. But that’s beside the point. So I had to drive all the way back home (in angry tears). I picked up new supplies and remade the ones that broke.

I was so upset that I such an error happened that I didn’t want to give someone the cake pops laying in a box like I was going to do. I went and picked up some Styrofoam and caution tape. I needed to make a display for the cake pops for presentation, and to possibly hide any of the sloppy errors on the pops themselves.

First I tried hot gluing the caution tape all over the Styrofoam, but the glue began to melt the tape. Instead, I attached two cake boards to the Styrofoam and only the caution tape around the outside with some light tape and cooled glue to hold it together. The glue also melts the Styrofoam so the cake boards came in handy. I printed out some construction signs and added them to the front of the display.

ImageThe end result looked good, but damn. It was a rough few days. I really began to question if it was worth all the time and effort.

Wilton Course 2, Lesson 3: Complete!

Another day, another Wilton lesson day. Today we worked on more royal icing flowers. Again, I made my icing very stiff but between the long drive and warm classroom the icing breaks down a bit. I even mixed powdered sugar while I was there into the icing and the warmth in the room melted it more. Below is my tiny usual set up.

course2class3pic1I took a side view of the rest of the table so I can show how messy things get. There really isn’t much space. This makes me concerned about course 3 (rolling out fondant). I’m wondering how many people they take for that class since there isn’t much room. But anyway!

course2class3pic3If you look closely below, you can see one flower all the way to the left has begun to melt. The middle flower I added more powdered sugar into the mix and did it again. It held up more, but didn’t look as nice. We practiced a few more flowers after. Most of the flowers all look the same (aside from bigger ones, like roses, or lilies). Just depending how many leaves you make, and the color makes all the difference. As I write this, I am again reminded that I really need to practice all of my buttercream and royal icing flowers.

course2class3pic2We also worked on making daffodils. I was too lazy to make yellow icing and kept working with the pink. You can see below my pink attempts at them. They seem easy enough to make and you have to manipulate the petals into pointed tips as it begins to dry.

course2class3pic7The worst flower of the day was trying to make the Lily. I took a picture of the page out of the book to better explain it. You line the forming cup with foil and make the lily in the cup.

course2class3pic4Below, you can see why I kept laughing as I tried to make my own lily. It looked like a little octopus trying to escape! God, it looked ridiculous.

course2class3pic5Below is the flower my friend made. She mixed some purple and pink together and it made a nice color. She also added the stamens (non-edible). I didn’t make it that far. I didn’t want to waste stamens if I wasn’t going to save the flower.

course2class3pic6For the last and final class in Course 2, we need to bring buttercream and an iced cake with us. Along with any flowers we want to decorate our cake with.

18th Birthday Cake

I think I should have a reality show. Just some cameras around the kitchen that film me when I make a cake. I’m sure people would love to watch me have mental break downs, sometimes cry, throw things around the kitchen, and talk about how I’m wasting my time with what I’m doing, yelling how something only is getting me $50 and I spent 12 hours making it… Yeah, I’m a mess. A horrible, horrible mess when I’m doing a cake. I really should consider a small sedative.

Anyway! As you can see below, I was ready for a long night. You can also see that it was day time when I started. God, this was a long day/night. I had my coffee ready.

ImageI started soaking my new bake-even strips from Wilton. I figured they were worth a shot. They are supposed to prevent the sides from cooking before the middle, and therefor make for even baking. They suggested soaking for at least 5 minutes before putting them around the cake pan.

ImageRight after the batter was finished mixing I wrapped the cake pans in the strips. I left them soaking. When I put them in the oven, I heard some sizzling as the edges touched the bottom. I pushed the two pans together to prevent the strips from hitting the oven. When I looked into the oven, I was shocked to see my cakes were baking level. I wish I could express how excited I was to see them baking like this. Perfection really.

ImageThey took a little longer to cook (about 10 more minutes), but look at them. Just look at them! All that baked even perfection. Sigh. Not sure I would ever get something this level and perfect again. I also knew this was bad foreshadowing. Something going so right at the start? Yeah. This means problems ahead… And… Yes. Problems happened.

ImageI decided I wanted to make a 8″ layer, 6″, and top it off with a 4″. I bought 4″ cake pans. I thought they looked pretty cute.

ImageLook how beautiful they all are just sitting there. All level, and waiting to be decorated. I wish i could have left them like this.

ImageIt was time to make my buttercream. I bought a new container of Crisco. Not sure why I’m adding this picture (it’s getting late), but I thought the Crisco looked so pretty all smooth in the container. I’m weird, okay?

ImageI followed this old recipe I had for a crusting buttercream. There was some notation from the author that she always tripled the recipie in her 5qt mixer. She said it was always filled to the top, but the icing always came out smooth. Well. Here it is. This was overflowing. I couldn’t even add the rest of the powdered sugar! I will never do that again. Holy bananas that was insane. How would this seem like a good idea? The mess it made, oh dear.

ImageThe amount of buttercream ended up coming in handy, but more on that in another blog post. Here are all my cakes iced and Viva’ed. Oddly enough, the hardest cake to ice was the 4″ one. But still, it went kinda smoothly. So I was again worried disaster was close by. I should consider making a cake with just a buttercream. I need to work more on the edges to do that, but it may be possible!

ImageSo I started trying to cover the cakes in fondant. It wasn’t going well. I weight out the fondant to make sure I was using enough. Rolling it out was more difficult than it should have been, but once it was on the cake it wouldn’t lay correctly and was getting immediate elephant skin. I must have tried for two hours to get these things covered correctly. I had to keep throwing out fondant and then cover it again in buttercream, waited for it to crust, then covered it again in fondant. Ugh. At some point in the middle of the night I just gave up and left it covered horribly. If you look, you can see the problems. The picture on the left is the dowels in the cake. I even spent a good 20 minutes trying to sharpen a dowel to stab through all the cakes. I gave that up eventually and stabbed it with a metal skewer. Then I put the wooden dowel in. That worked. I’m sure I’ll have to figure something else out in the future.

ImageSince I gave up and decide to roll with that I had, I decided to try and cover the imperfections up with dots, and a boarder. I didn’t think to take a picture of the back of the cake. At one area I have it covered in dots. Boy oh boy was it a mess. I could only hope they would have the cake against a wall, or be distracted by something else to look at. The picture below is the final cake. I had to add a bunch of flowers to the top since the purse was too big to use as a cake topper. It would have worked if I didn’t add the 4″ layer.

ImageHere is the little purse I made that I ended up putting in front of the cake. It was a bit sloppy, but I was in an angry state at this point. I thought the purse looked cute though. The buttons were a nice final touch.

ImageOverall, they seemed happy with the cake. I should note they asked for the cake to be sweeter and more moist than the cupcakes I made for them the other day. I make my cupcakes moist with a muted sweetness. I’ve always hated desserts that were hard to eat because of their level of sweet. But, I did what they asked. I soaked that cake in simple syrup and broke out my ultra sweet icing. They liked this, so I made a note to use the same procedure for future cakes.