I am bitter. It is 3AM and I am waiting for my lopsided cake to crust over so I can Viva it and go to bed. In the 10 seconds it took me to type that sentence, my dog did a champion sprint to the cake and ate a chunk out of the side. I’m not sure where my cake karma is, but it is certainly not in my kitchen right now.
To backtrack a bit, I’ve been gone all day running insane errands to prepare for the slamming my kitchen is going to take over the next 24 hours. I volunteered to make cupcakes for a local school, and I simply do not have enough time in the day. I’m also apparently overly cocky about my ability to bake. Additionally, I think things are much easier than they are for me. On a side note, I just googled the word ‘additionally’ because I’m overtired and convinced myself it wasn’t a word.
About 4 hours ago I had the brilliant idea to get my lesson 4 preparation done before I went to bed so I wouldn’t have to worry about it in the morning. According to the lovely lesson book we have, tomorrow we need to bring in a fully leveled and iced cake, on top of about 12 different buttercream colors and flowers already made. Those buttercream and flowers are just not going to happen, but I’ll get to that later.
This should have been very simply. I had my cakes frozen for this class for three weeks. All I had to do was take it out, level it, and ice it. Yet, when I pulled out everything I needed, I noticed all my leftover icing from lesson 3. I never practiced the flowers we rushed through last week. So of course, I decided it needed to be done right away!
I’ll try and get through this part of my post here with a limited about of hostility. The following picture is of leaves! Yay leaves! This is probably the easiest thing I have ever piped. I had slight difficulty with making the leaves have a pointed tip at first, and the first dozen or so looked more phallic than leaf life (you can see some of those scattered on the practice board). To make the leaves, you use a #352 tip. Make sure the tip is held vertically and slightly above the paper/cake/whatever. Then you just release pressure and drag it away when you’re done with the leaf. Reading the instructions in the booklet didn’t really help with this. You just need to do it a few times and you’ll figure out how to make all different types of leaves. Plus, they’re leaves. I’m 90% sure if your icing is green and next to a flower, they are self explanatory regardless of how messy they look. Either way, I started off on a positive note with the leaves.
I moved on to more practice. In the following picture, you can see shell practice (#21 tip), rosette practice (#18 tip), drop flower (#2D), and swirled flower (#2D). For shells, these seem to take a bit of practice to build up the muscle memory. You have to build the icing up with your tip, then release pressure and drag out the bottom, before going into the next shell. I’m not comfortable with it, but I think with practice I can get it down. The rosettes are the easiest thing. Just swirl that icing girl. Swirl away. You really can’t mess that up. I would like to make these with some royal icing and pack it away (but I’m angry at my royal icing right now). Now the drop and swirled flower I’m not happy with. As you can see in my blurry photo, they do not look great at all. I had more success with these in class last week. They seem very easy. Hold your #2D tip on the page/cake/whatever, squeeze, release, move bag away. For the swirled, turn your hand 90 degrees as you squeeze. I foresee more practice in my future.
I practiced a rose with my leftover icing. This is a bad rose. Better luck next time bucko.
My final flower of the night was another attempt on the pompom flower. I have to admit, I think this is the ugliest flower I have ever seen. Maybe if done with some nice sprinkles on each layer of a cupcake I can see it, but it is just ugly. I broke out the flower nail and flower template. Used a #12 tip to build my base. Then I used a #16 dark blue icing to make long stars that went straight up. Then, I took the light blue icing with a #18 tip and made larger, long stars from the base and pulled out straight. It may be my icing, but this just turned out horrible. I say I’ll practice this again, but I doubt that. Until I see a need to actually do this flower in the future, I plan on promptly erasing this from my memory.
So I have a ton of left over icing from last week. Even after decorating cupcakes last week, and practicing tonight, I have at least a full batch of buttercream left over. For lesson 4, we’re supposed to bring in 4 different icing colors at the minimum. Now, I may regret this decision (and you may want to avoid my next blog post), but I thought it was pointless to bring in all those colors. You cannot bring in a separate container for all the colors since there is not enough room, and planning ahead and putting them in piping bags backfired for me last week when I had to use different sized tips than the couplers I had. So! Why not combine all the left over buttercream, and use it for all the decorations? Excellent idea! Ain’t it purdy? No, not really. But no one is seeing this cake except for myself, and whoever stumbles upon my hostile rants here. Why not? I’ll have more time to practice in class than worrying about coloring my icing, or running out of room. Man, I hope this doesn’t blow up in my face.
I made a new batch of buttercream. I followed the directions exactly this time and whipped the crap out of it on high speed. I added 2 extra tablespoons than needed. This could be the cause of the problems I have been having with my current buttercream. It breaks all the time, and already is a soft consistency. I’ll have to check it out.
So here we go! Below, you can see how I got ready for the cakes. I actually bought a cake board, a 16in featherweight bag, and the #789 icing tip. The instructor for the class suggest against it, but it seemed so much easier I figured I should try it. You do have to cut the 16in bag to comfortably fit the extra large tip. After that was done, I put some icing on the bottom of the cake board to hold it in place.
Now it was time to break out a new toy! My cakes were defrosted, and slightly lopsided. I didn’t plan on trying to level it since they do freeze pretty flat, but they weren’t sitting on the cake board right and I wanted to make sure it was done correctly. Now, I want to point out that it is extremely easy to use the Wilton leveler.
The leveler sides right through the cake and all you need to do is keep it on the table. Somehow, I messed this up. The cakes looked all nice and even, but they were not. Either I messed up leveling it, or they were so uneven to begin with that cutting it into two pieces just made it worse. I didn’t think it was so bad (I was wrong), so I decided to ice the two pieces together with my buttercream. I saw this awesome thing on youtube where you can put the icing into some saran wrap, spin it together, then pop it into the piping bag. There is basically no clean up! So yeah, I decided 1:30AM was the best time to try this out. You can see my little ball of icing all ready to pop into a bag. Now… I didn’t think it looked tight enough… So I spun the bag again… and it opened. And icing went everywhere. I’m pretty sure I still have some in my hair. EVERYWHERE. I think this is the point I began to snap. Can you tell I have zero patience yet?
Once I got the icing into the piping bag I iced the two pieces together and stacked them. And then this shit appears. Look below. How uneven is this?! This has to be a joke. The cake wasn’t even that uneven to start. How can I possibly manage this? It looks like I planned it. A standing ovation was needed. Around this point, I was boiling. (Oh, fun. I just took my hair down and glob of icing fell on the keyboard. Awesome.)
I decided to throw the other cake on top and hope for the best. It was so horrible lopsided I debated throwing it all out and decorating a blank piece of cardboard in class. Instead, I cut about an inch off around the entire cake, mixed it with some icing, and shoved it under the cake to level it. Yum, tasty.
It is one ugly looking thing, but it is as level as I am going to get it. I did use the icing tip to get the buttercream on it, and it worked amazingly well. I was pretty angry at this point, so I forgot to take pictures. I only used one batch of buttercream because this this tip, you seem to waste less. Get this tip. Seriously. Easy peasy. I was happy with this tip. I hope it serves me well in the future. Because I did a hack job on the cake, there were crumbs everywhere. I didn’t have enough icing to do a basic crumb coat, so my final cake has crumbs. So be it. The cake gods have spoken. This is just for practice right? I’m positive I will regret this and be embarrassed tomorrow in class when I pull it out, but right now so be it.
It is now 4:15AM. My feet hurt. Pandora’s “Summer Hits of the 90’s,” is the only thing getting me through this post. Banging out this angry post has calmed me down a bit. I’m sure I’ll get angry again as I go to Viva that horrible, dog licked cake and clean the kitchen. I’m just going to clean up, and worry about the rest tomorrow. We’re supposed to bring in flowers and a cake design, but I’m just going to wing it. Only person eating this cake is going to be me, and apparently my ninja-like dog.
Edit: After using the Viva method the cake (it crusted over as I wrote this post), it did not smooth out like it should have. I’m wondering if my struggles are coming from the icing itself? Maybe I should try buttercreams I used in the past.
I then tried to put the cake into my carrier. Turns out, the cake was just too big for it. So the icing is all ruined in the sides, and I had to move the entire cake which took out all the cake I had shoved under it to level it. So now I’m back to my horribly lopsided cake. Just now it is missing icing in patches. Seriously, the joke is on me right now. Where is my bed?