ready, set, deliver!!!

finally, the cake was finished and ready to be delivered.  it was like someone lifted a weight from my shoulders-then came the delivery and when you are traveling with cake, anything can happen…how about a marathon?  we forgot about that and the street closures made getting to the location of the reception a challenge.  then there was the ac in the van-it decided not to work on this day of all days.  well, despite the few hitches, the cakes travelled well and all was good.

a close-up of the texture i applied to the buttercream.  it gives it a bit of a rustic look which works well with buttercream.  it can also help to hide any flaws in the cake but i wasn’t worried about that this time.

 the assembled cake in the fridge-generally, i do not assemble in advance but decided to give it a try this time.  with the cake in the fridge chilling for about 4 hours before we left, i was confident that it would be okay.  that was before i learned about the ac in the van and the street closures!

 a close-up of the textures

 the flowers-blue hydrangeas and calla lilies.  the hydrangeas must have been some variety from europe-they had fleshy stems rather than the woody ones we have here.  they were also air brushed to be blue.

 after extensively touring the downtown area trying to get to the building (*&%# marathon…)  we finally arrived.  the cake was set on a piano and this is the process i went through to add the flowers.  first it was some greenery-ferns.

 next it was hydrangeas and some leaves
 finally, calla lilies
 the cake!

 the groom’s cake-done by my friend garrett.  it was very well received!  the groom mentioned that his friends kept moving the tiny golf ball that was on the putting green to the sand traps-apparently, his game includes time in the sand traps.

the happy couple-congratulations to jeanne and john!

pretty crumby

sorry for the delay-i tend to do this type of work at night and i ran out of steam last night!  the next step in assembling the cake is the crumb coating-and it is a crumby job…right, i can hear the crickets too…for this job, i pulled out my magic bag of tricks-a big yellow toolbox that has just about everything you can think of in it to construct or destruct a cake (all depends on how you look at it)

the lid has little compartments for all the tips and couplers that i generally need

the big yellow box

 inside, i have everything else that i need

 the oddest thing in there-a level.  i get puzzled looks when somebody finds it in there.   they ask me what i am planning to build-a cake needs a level space or it may fall over!

 the next step is to make the frosting.  in this case, it was classic meringue butterceam flavored with vanilla.  the sugar is cooked to 238 on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage) and then poured into egg whites to make the meringue

one thing to remember, always have everything ready to go.  once the sugar is at temperature, it cannot wait.  have your mixer ready with the egg whites in the bowl.  next thing to remember-pour that sugar very carefully!  pour it in a thin stream at the side of the bowl as the it whips the egg whites.  if you hit the whip with that sugar it will splatter and sugar at 238 can give you a nasty burn!

 the meringue whips up beautifully and it will cool down to slightly warmer than body temperature.  at that point, you can add the butter(which is very soft but not at all melted) in chunks and allow it to mix up.  it will be very light and fluffy.  add your flavor and mix to combine.  now, it is ready to go.

 at this point in the game, your cake layers must be cold.  never try to do this with room temperature cakes-they crumble.  for this reason, i always make my cakes a day ahead and keep them in the fridge.  if they need trimming or if i am cutting custom sizes, i can be sure that i will get sharp edges and still be able to handle the layers without breaking them.  trim the cakes if necessary and begin assembly.

it’s called a crumb coat for a reason, it is a sloppy finish meant to seal in the crumbs and establish the shape of the cake.  it is not supposed to look good at this point.  and don’t try to go cheap and only frost it once unless you are coating it with fondant.  take the time to chill the cake with the crumb coating for several hours and then do your finishing layer.  you will have nice sharp lines and a smooth coat to work with in the end.  better yet-no crumbs peaking out at you.

so, since today is the big day, i have a cake to deliver!!! tune in tomorrow for the final coat and the addition of the fresh flowers.

have your cake and …

i frequently talk of how time has flown and i am not ready to grow older.  it is also hard to believe how much time has passed-it has been nearly 7 years since we closed our bakery and moved on to other employment.

when we had our bakery, we had several teenagers who worked for us as they went through high school and college.  in the last 7 years, they have all graduated from college and are hard at work on their chosen careers.  but way back when, as they watched me make wedding cakes, i heard them mention how i would be the only one who they would ask to make their wedding cake.  as a mom, i have learned not to listen to idle chatter of teenage girls-you simply cannot keep up with the conversation as it morphs along.

one of the girls came to us as a prep/sandwich cook and moved on to be a baker.  after we closed the shop, she moved on to las vegas and attended culinary school and is now working hard on building a career as a pastry chef.  she also kept her promise-she asked me to make her wedding cake.  it is an honor to be asked-i mean, if it were me, i’d want somebody who can actually bake something tasty to make the cake…just kidding!  it will be plenty tasty.  for this task, i pulled out my binder of recipes from when i wrote my first book, sky high.  in that book is a chapter which includes wedding cakes and i chose the lavender rose cake for this occasion.  there will be a few minor changes-it will not be filled with the jam and the layers are square rather than round.

organized chaos on the counter.  my work space is limited and it is one of the reasons that i do not sell wedding cakes from the house.  there is also the herd to contend with-if there isn’t the risk of cat hair in the vicinity of the cake, then i am trying to keep the buggers from eating the cake-yes cats like cake too.

 i did not have all of the pans needed so i decided to use sheet cake pans and cut the layers to size.  since this is a recipe from sky high, that means triple layer cakes and three of each size cake were needed.

 my kitchen aid mixer; it’s a trooper and i have had it for more than 20 years.  okay, so first gear is gone but it still gets the job done.  and like any other baker, it can be a little messy.  i wrap it in plastic so the flour doesn’t fly too far.

 the first of three batches of batter.  it worked out well and went a bit faster than i expected.  all in all, in three hours i had baked 3(12″x18″) cakes and 3(8″) square cakes and had even managed to get the place cleaned up.

the cakes cooling on my table.  i was lucky-the cats didn’t seem to notice the cakes this time!  tune in tomorrow to see the process of decorating the cake.