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Archive for August, 2007

Ladybug Cake

I practically begged my friend to let me make the cake for her daughter’s third birthday party. She had sent out invitations with ladybugs, so I followed her lead. I did read somewhere that red and black were the most difficult colors to achieve in fondant, so at this point I played it safe with pink and brown. I had learned my lesson, and buttercream was solidly preventing any potential of milk-based vanilla cream filling destroying my creation. The process of creating it was relatively smooth and uneventful. Kids and parents alike enjoyed it at the birthday party.

Note: While back-dated to August – when the cake was made – this post was actually written in November, after I decided to offload into cyberspace my newly-discovered obsession with cakes…

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Baby Shower Onesie Cake

 

This Onesie® cake (yes, Gerber has a claim on the trademark even though it is a widely accepted generalized term) was for the surprise baby shower of a good friend. Unsuspecting, my friend thought she was coming over for some afternoon coffee, which we had almost made into a Thursday tradition this summer, only to be greeted by a bunch of girlfriends with 24-carat smiles, pink balloons and a pile of pink, heavily-ribboned  gift boxes.  About the onesie… I had seen a similar cake online, just decorated in buttercream instead of fondant. It is my favorite flourless Walnut Cake recipe, with cocoa meringue buttercream from the 1962 book… It is shaped from a 6-layer 9”x13” sheet cake, with the sleeves coming from the triangular cutouts at the bottom.  Hm…  cocoa meringue buttercream… I never know how to refer to this filling… “Meringue” is not exactly correct, as it uses whole eggs (not just the whites), which are mixed with sugar and boiled over low heat with constant beating (so you end up with a fluffy custard-like texture, and not scrambled eggs), then cooled off, again while beating constantly, and lastly, the already creamed butter with powdered sugar, cocoa and rum (and/or vanilla) is gradually added to the egg mixture. Yum!!!  The recipe calls for syrup, made of equal amounts of sugar and water, with the heavy addition of rum (which was used very sparingly in this case) to moisten and flavor the walnut cake layers.

Baby Girl Shower, Onesie Cake

 

Note: While back-dated to August – when the cake was made – this post was actually written in November, after I decided to offload into cyberspace my newly-discovered obsession with cakes…

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Baby Buggy Cake

 

In a way, the Flowers cake was a practice run – even though both cakes were made simultaneously in the same stretch of two days – for the Baby Buggy cake for the baby shower of another good friend. I had seen several pictures of buggy cakes online and I was looking for an excuse to make one. 

 

The large 12” cake is everyone’s favorite “Death by Chocolate”, and the two 6” wheels are vanilla cake with vanilla cream. Did those create some trouble!!!  

 

Stating that I had never worked with fondant before and I dislike freezing cakes for the sole purpose of easy decorating, I was set for a disaster.  

 

The decorating process was moving smoothly into the wee hours of the night, no major setbacks – except I had to learn the hard way that when directions say “roll thick”, I need to roll thick. Having come from the schooling of making paper-thin fillo dough sheets (not that I have ever had the time to do that in real life), and in general conditioned to think that thin is always better than thick (1/4” cake layer is better than 1/2″ cake layer, and 3/4″ cake layer is plain unacceptable; crapes are better than pancake, and so on), I went for rolling the fondant thin – *now* I know that it works with Choco-Pan, but for the plain ol’ Wilton, that was a recipe for failure.  

 

Without going into too much detail, and in retrospect feeling terribly sorry for not having woken up my husband to take pictures of the process (no way I could have touched a camera, I was rushing the cake in and out of its plastic cover, in and out of the refrigerator, to make sure the fondant cooled off to set as fast as I possibly could – silly, silly, inexperienced me, just making error after error!) I can safely say that eventually all cake pieces – body, wheels, handlebar and all – were semi-successfully covered in fondant, with at least the tops perfectly smooth. Someone should have told me that each cake needs to be on a cake board, it would have made my life sooo much easier…) I cut several dozens of flowers in yellow, pink and pastel green – no yellows and greens on this cake, you say? …Hm…Cake was safely in the fridge, my eyes were drooping heavily, but I was determined to finish the masterpiece before dawn or I would turn into a pumpkin… Placing the flowers on the cake was a breeze – the fondant was wet, from having been refrigerated under cover, but I thought that was good – they stuck like magnets. Didn’t even had a chance to take a picture of the complete buggy – shove it back in the fridge and went to sleep with a content grin.  

 

And in the morning… Oh, in the morning… The milk-based vanilla cream from the wheels had literally dissolved the fondant over them. Somebody should have told me to pipe buttercream on the sides of the cake layers first, so cream wouldn’t ooze out… Somebody should have also told me to never cover a cake in anything milk-based, should fondant be applied on top.  

 

I fought back tears, but unfortunately it didn’t occur to me to grab the camera and document the destruction.… I took a deep breath and, going into a Bob the Builder mode – Can we fix it? Yes we can! – I  scraped off the melted fondant from the entire cake, as  the devastation had spread where the wheels touched the body of the buggy, reshaped it as needed, and, out of pure luck – and lack of time – I simply creamed butter and powered sugar in an attempt to seal as much of the filling off as possible, put back the cake in the fridge and ran to Michale’s for more fondant. Of course, hubby had a demo or an expo or something otherwise important coming up and was at work, so I had to have the little thunder gods in tow, cranky and tired by the time we reached The Promised Fondant…. Because – or rather, another “of course” here – buying fondant had to take over two hours, as the two closest stores didn’t have any of the 5-lb boxes, anything smaller than that was plain useless for me… Store number three was a winner, as confirmed on the phone. And thankfully, the baby shower was on Sunday, while this was only Saturday early afternoon.  

 

The decorating process was repeated that evening. My friend stayed over, after getting hubby and baby to sleep back home, to “watch and learn” the process, she did help cutting out the flowers and I certainly felt good having some moral support at 3am.  

 

I was scared to peak into the cake the next morning… When I braved under the plastic cover, the cake had successfully survived the night and was ready to be admired upon.  The mom-to-be loved it, and apparently it was a subject of talks for days to come.

 

 

Baby Buggy Cake

 

Note: While back-dated to August – when the cake was made – this post was actually written in November, after I decided to offload into cyberspace my newly-discovered obsession with cakes…

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My *Very* First Fondant-Covered Cake w/ Flowers

 

A friend of mine was “officially”, or rather “ceremoniously”, getting married – the “unofficial” signing of papers had already taken place almost a year ago – the wedding several thousand miles away, and to my biggest disappointment we were not going to make it to the event… There was the plan for a bachelorette party in Vegas, too, which for a list of reasons – or rather a single reason – no time! – didn’t materialize. So I figured, a fancy double-date dinner (with our two little thunder gods and the baby-girl asleep) at our house was in order instead. Any excuse for a cake would do in my world! Plus I was dying to try out fondant.  

Cake is “Death by Chocolate”, of course, with chocolate raspberry Chambord ganache filling.  

When I stacked the two tiers on top of each other, I had no idea they were supposed to have been supported by dowels, the top layer on its own cake board… or that when one would slice a tiered cake, the knife would only go through one tier… Duh. The things to learn! My flowery concept for it did not include those chocolate fondant bands around the layers, but I couldn’t get the fondant perfectly smooth on the sides of the cake… The bands made the cake look like a silly hat… It was still cute, nonetheless, I was pleased with the lack of disaster at this first fondant attempt – the luck of the beginner it is said, the ganache is what has spared me in my cake-decorating ignorance this early on. As a side benefit, my friend was wowing and ahing over it, so she must have liked it…

 

Note: While back-dated to August – when the cake was made – this post was actually written in November, after I decided to offload into cyberspace my newly-discovered obsession with cakes…

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