Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Freezing Fondant

Sorry for the no posts! I have been busy with the holidays. Plus I've been gorging myself of yummy treats that always seem to show up around this time of year, and cake just doesn't sound as yummy as it normally does!

I have a new cake to post, I promise. I am waiting for the pictures to be sent to me and then I will post them! In the meantime, I thought I would share a little tip with you.

I hate being wasteful, especially when it is expensive/time consuming to make, like fondant. So I used to put the extra fondant in little plastic baggies and stick them in a plastic grocery bag and store the extra fondant with the rest of my cake decorating supplies. However, when I would bring out the stored fondant a few weeks later for my next cake, it would all be as hard as a rock and I would have to throw them away.

Well I've gotten a bit smarter now and so I simply wrap the extra fondant in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, mark what color it is with a permanent marker, and just throw it in the freezer. So easy! And when I want to use it again, I simply take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge for at least a few hours. When it is thawed it is perfectly soft and easy to work with. No more dried out fondant!

The only down side to this way is that you have to take out the fondant well before you start decorating so it can gradually thaw. I don't really know what happens if you just take it straight out of the freezer and start working with it but I heard it messes up the moisture ratio or something.

I have both red and black fondant in my freezer right now, and let me tell you with those colors being the hardest to make, freezing them saves me a TON of time! I highly recommend freezing your extra fondant, even if it is just a little bit and especially if they are hard colors to make.

Hope that helps!

Monday, November 15, 2010

History of Cake Decorating

Just thought this was interesting. Maybe you don't. But I'm posting it anyway. :)
This was the only article I could find online that really talks about the history of cake decorating. I'm sure there is more too it then this but I certainly do not have the time or energy at this time in my life to do any research on it! Maybe someday...mehh...probably not...

A Short History Of Cake Decorating

By: Josephine Gauttier

Cake decorating is one of those oft-ignored culinary arts. Although the sight of a beautifully decorated cake delights almost everyone, most people are not aware of the long and intricate history of the art. It indeed has a long and colored history. Here is a brief overview of the history of cake decorating.

The Roots of Cake Decorating

What are the origins of cake decorating? Compared to other forms of food preparation, it is actually one of the newer culinary arts. Decorating cakes can be traced back to the mid-17th century. This is around the same time, probably not coincidentally, that cake pans made their first appearance in domestic kitchens across Northeastern Europe. Beginning in the mid-17th century, it gained widespread popularity as a way to create elaborate desserts that were used as displays during the feasts and banquets of the wealthiest aristocracy. However, these were mainly used as display pieces.

The Mid-19th Century Brings Cake Decoratingto the Forefront

The history of the art, as we know it today truly got its start in the mid-19th century. This coincides with the period in which the French began to serve the dessert as a completely separate sweet course that was served at the very end of the meal. This is the time in which decorated desserts, namely cakes, began to appear on banquet tables with some kind of regularity.

The Development of Temperature-Controlled Ovens Changes Everything

In the 1840s, there was an important development in kitchen and cooking technology: the temperature controlled oven. This, of course, made baking much more pleasant and convenient. During this period, cake baking became easier and thus more popular. However, during this period, most cake decorating consisted of the elaborate and difficult old English method, which generally consisted of decorating with dimensional over piping. The cakes would generally be covered in rolled fondant, and the borders would be intricately over piped. Another important development during this same period is the introduction of baking powder and baking soda. This, of course, also makes baking cakes much easier.

The Wilton Method Arrives in the Early 20th Century

Around 1929, a business known as Wilton Enterprises began to advertise its own cake decorating classes. Their classes were advertised to enterprising chefs, caterers and other gourmands with an interest in baking and decorating cakes. The decorating classes took off and became a great success among bakers and chefs. In 1947, the Wilton’s began to develop and promote their own line of baking and decorating products. Wilton enterprises made a great splash, and by the 1960s, the so-called Wilton Method became a stand-by method of cake decoration.

In 1983, the Wilton Company merged with the Copco kitchenware company. Then, in 1991, the company merged again with Rowoco, who changed the name of the company to Wilton Industries.

The Lambeth Method Becomes Another Popular Decorating Method

A few years after the Wilton school came into existence, Joseph Lambeth published a book that would become a classic of cake decorating. The book was known as The Lambeth Method of Cake Decoration and Practical Pastries. The book became widely popular with budding cake decorators, bakers and other gourmands. The book contained real step-by-step instructions and clear, oversized drawings and photographs that showed readers how the Lambeth Method was constructed.

The International Cake Exploration Society Come Onto the Scene

In 1976, a new organization known as the International Cake Exploration Society in Michigan came into the decorating scene. The organization is still active, and meets each year during their annual conventions.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

And You Thought My Eye Cake Was Gross...

Okay, I'll be honest, this cake is very well done. But tastefully? That is certainly debatable!

I feel like puking my guts out just looking at it! LOL!

p.s. I did NOT make this cake!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Halloween Eyeball Cake

I really wasn't planning on making a Halloween cake...till some friends invited us over for a Halloween dinner. I know everyone is probably tired of eating my cakes but I couldn't help myself! This cake was really last minute and I wasn't going for realism at all here so it's not super amazing.

Yum...White cake with raspberry filling (aka eye goop)

According to my husband, the eye is filled with a clear, gelatinous fluid, not red goop. Guess I should have filled it with clear jello!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tinkerbell Cake

A friend of mine threw a birthday party for her daughter-Tinkerbell themed-and asked me to make her a cake. Of course I said yes! I had fun making this cake, a 9" single tier confetti cake with white frosting.

Tinkerbell herself was slightly tricky to do. I cut her body parts individually (that sounds creepy-sorry) from fondant. Cutting (I used an x-acto knife) wasn't too difficult to do, but it was a little tricky getting the parts to fit back together exactly. I think it turned out pretty good for my first try. She is really sparkly but unfortunately the photos do not show it very well. The rest was fairly easy-just cut and paste. The flowers and leaves are also sparkly. I love Wilton's shimmer dust!

The flowers on the sides were a big hit...all the little girls wanted one!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

From Scratch Cakes vs Box Mixes

I bought some cake flour out of curiousity--I wanted to see what, if any difference, it would make in from-scratch cakes. I don't know why I bothered, honestly, because I almost never make cakes from scratch. I don't think I would have noticed a difference if there was. Meh. So that part was a waste.
My reasoning for using box cakes is now solidified thanks to this "experiment". I followed the recipe on the back of the box (just a simple yellow cake recipe). As it turned out, I noticed very little difference between the from-scratch cake and a yellow box cake mix. Seriously, it tasted exactly the same as a box mix, after all that work! If fact, it seemed a little drier than a box cake. Which is good if you're making carved cakes (which I have yet to do) but not so good if you're like me and like your cake moist.
As for box cake brands, I've tried them all, and I like most of them (Pillsbury, Betty Crocker, and Duncan Hines) although Duncan Hines is my least favorite of the "big 3" (I think the cake turns out too dry). The Kroger brand cake mix was awful.

To be brief, I think making cakes from scratch is
generally a waste of time.
Though I must say that the orange cake recipe and the chocolate cherry cake recipe are definitily worth your time if you want to make a cake from scratch.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Cotton Candy Cake

My latest cake is made with all buttercream. I haven't done a full buttercream cake for a long time! I still like working with fondant and gum paste better (I feel like I can do so much more), but I still enjoyed making this cake. I especially enjoyed doing the basket weave; it's been almost a year since I last did it, but luckily I didn't forget how to do it entirely! It's not perfect (I lost the template for basket weave-whoops) but it didn't take too long and it turned out okay.

I tried a few new things with this cake. I made it ALL from scratch using cake flour (I'll make another post on that later). I also tried a new flavor combination: its yellow cake with cotton candy pudding for the filling and the frosting is raspberry flavored. I know, sounds weird but I think it tasted pretty good. Not amazing, but good.

While the cake was in the oven, a friend called and asked me to bring a dessert for dinner. How convenient that I already had a cake in the oven! So I brought it to the dinner. I {think} people liked it because I didn't take much cake home!

Dang camera. A lot of the pictures I take with it are fuzzy. A new camera is definitely on my Christmas list!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Baseball Ice Cream Cake

Here is the cake I made using the bake-n-fill set. I honestly didn't plan on decorating this cake (I only wanted to try out the bake set) but I couldn't help myself! The decoration is NOTHING amazing but it it was quick and easy to do and looks a lot better then a big ugly snowball!
Using the bake set was really easy and filling it was simple too. I just followed the instructions and had no problems. I love ice cream cakes so I will definitely be using this set a lot in the future!

Yellow cake, white frosting, and chocolate ice cream. Delicious!

Bake n' Fill Set!

My in-laws came for a visit over labor day weekend, and my mother-in-law, who loves to spoil us with gifts, gave me a Betty Crocker "Bake n Fill" pan set. It comes with a round pan, another deeper roundish pan, a base pan, and a top pan. It allows you to make filled cakes and ice cream cakes. Pretty awesome! I was so excited to try it out, so I made an ice cream cake for dessert the very next day; I'll make that my next post. I'm looking forward to using this set more, there are a ton of possibilities. I've only tried it once but I highly recommend it!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Better Way to Make Fondant Cut-Outs

I've always found it irritating when I make fondant cut-outs and the piece doesn't cleanly detach from the cutter. Well, somewhere on the internet (can't remember where) I saw that there is a different way to cut out clean peices of fondant. I decided to test it out for myself, and lo and behold it works! Here is the proof:

The typical way to cut out fondant:

See? The flower does not come out clean.

The better way to make fondant cut-outs is to lay your fondant sheet over the cutter, and then roll over it with your rolling pin, making sure to press hard.

You get a much neater, cleaner cut-out with basically no extra effort:

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Baby shower cake

Here is my latest cake! I made it for a good friend who is pregnant with a baby girl. I designed this cake to match the invitation. I had a lot of fun making this cake! The booties were especially fun, and surprisingly easy. I love the way they turned out! If you're interested in making the booties, click here for the video how-to and here for the pattern.

The booties. Too cute!

The baby shower set-up

The mother of honor

Lemon cake with lemon filling and frosting

Monday, August 23, 2010

Minion Cake

I received a very special cake request from a friend (we go way back!) for a cake for her boyfriend. He likes these characters called "Minions" from the movie Despicable Me, so she asked me to make him a cake with the Minions on it. I loved making the little figurines! Most of all, I loved seeing my old friend again after 10+ years and catching up!

I made the fondant myself and usually it turns out great, but the last few times its been giving me grief. I'm wondering if it's the marshmallows I'm using or the fact that it's so dang hot here, because lately it has been tearing real easily and turning out lumpy and bumpy when I put it on the cake. So it didn't look as great as I had hoped.

However, the recipients of the cake loved it! My favorite thing about making cakes (besides eating them) is seeing the happy expressions when they see the cake! Makes my day.

Red Velvet cake with homemade cream cheese frosting and vanilla pudding filling.

I love this pic!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Curious Case of the Shrinking Cake

Did you know........that a cake shrinks about a quarter of an inch within about 24 hours?? I didn't know that either, but according to Duff Goldman from Ace of Cakes, it does!

Hmmm...that would explain the buckling here (to the left, just above the yellow flower):

Truthfully, I have never noticed any shrinkage, besides this here cake. And it could have very well been the icing sliding off the cake from the heat. Who knows. Perhaps I've never noticed the shrinkage because the fondant hardens a little after a time and creates a sort of cast around the cake. The most likely case would be because I'm a pig and eat the cake as soon as humanly possible.

So what to do about it? Duff Goldman recommends when trimming the bottom of a fondant cake, trim it a bit higher than you normally would so the fondant will stay smooth and straight when the cake shrinks.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Any Old Fruit Cake Recipe

Here' a treat for you! This cake recipe is from my great-grandmother and is called Any Old Fruit Cake. It's a little different; it tastes is similar to a spice cake but sweeter, and its very moist and dense.

1 qt plumbs, apricots, or whatever fruit you have canned (canned in mason-jar qts)*
1/2 C vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 C sugar
3 C Flour (abt)
4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 C chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)

Combine fruit, oil, and eggs. Combine dry ingredients and add to liguid ingredients. Beat for two minutes with electric mixer. Add nuts if used. Turn into oiled baking pan. Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

*drain 2 quarts of fruit, making sure you have one full quart of the pulp for this recipe (use juice for a drink or jelly)

Frost cake with cream cheese frosting and enjoy!

p.s. I have no idea how this cake works with decorating. It's super yummy and nice for a change, though!

A Humbling Disaster

There are always moments in life that remind us just how far we are from where we want to be.

I had one of these moments last week when I was out of town. My sister graduated from college and I told her I'd make a cake for her. I didn't have enough room to bring all of my supplies with, so I just bought a few tips, a decorator bag, and some gel colors, thinking I could work with just buttercream.


I'll be brief:

warm cake + cold, stiff frosting + too much water (to compensate for stiff frosting) = complete disaster.

Being in a rush and having no plan doesn't not help either.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Strawberry Cake Filling Fecipe

While my previous cake may have been a visual failure, the taste sure made up for it!

This is the filling recipe I used, and its super quick and easy to make. I think it is best paired with plain white cake (since the it's already so sweet and you don't want to distract from the flavor). I used plain vanilla icing, but I suppose it wouldn't hurt to mix in some pureed strawberries to the icing.

I found the recipe here , but it's short so I'll just post it:
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

  1. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a heavy small sauce pan, stirring constantly and crushing berries slightly with back of spoon.
  2. Boil 2 minutes to thicken, stirring constantly (mixture will be slightly chunky).
  3. Pour into bowl and cool completely.
So easy and so delicious!

Foodwriters-A Failed Attempt

I bought some Wilton FoodWriters the other day thinking they'd by fun to try. They're basically markers filled with food coloring. You can buy a pack of 5 for like $4. I planned on using them instead of painting on the cake surface like I had tried (somewhat successfully) before. I even practiced working with the food writers before attempting to use them on the actual cake, and everything was looking alright. However, I didn't take into consideration when I was practicing (on a flat surface) that the surface of the cake would be perpendicular, thus forcing me to use the markers vertically which makes it hard for the "ink" to flow.
SOoOooo...when I drew on the cake with the markers held like that the lines came out either too faint and blotchy (using the tip) or too thick (from having using the sides of the marker since basically no ink came out of the point). Pooh. I wanted to draw more (as you can tell there is too much of nothing on the cake), but I stopped because what I had already drawn was turning out so icky.
I think the top turned out okay. I didn't put too much effort into making the strawberries, so they're not amazing. Meh.
Nevertheless, this cake turned out absolutely delicious, thanks to the delicious, sweet, fresh strawberries I used. I'll post more on that in a bit!

Foodwriter markers. They don't work too well on the sides of a cake. Perhaps they'd work well writing a message on the top of the cake.