Friday, June 24, 2011

Cake Final Exam

I needed an inspiration for my final cake design.  I wasn't really feeling the example designs out of our instruction book, they were a little too old-school for me.  I actually had a birthday to bake for that Monday, but I didn't want to give him a cake a day late.  And I already had a different inspiration for a treat for him (which turned out very yummy btw).  So I was really excited when I found out one of my friends at work was going to find out the gender of thing growing inside of her the Friday before.  Now we don't have to call it a thing anymore!  It's going to be a beautiful bouncing baby boy.  I spent some time over the weekend coming up with this design and was pretty nervous about how well I was going to be able to execute it at class because I wanted it to be perfect for her.

The first part of class we practiced writing and making Wilton roses.  Writing actually turned out to be kinda fun and easy.  The first time I tried it on my leftover cookies I was missing a very important trick - add a bit of piping gel to your frosting to help make it smoother and easier to squeeze.  It was fun but a little tricky practicing on the practice board because I'm not used to writing in cursive at all!  For some reason it felt fairly natural when writing in frosting though.  I'm definitely not as scared of it as I was before and no long *quite* as impressed with the beautiful writing I see on the standard cakes at every grocery store.  The roses were also pretty cute and easy as soon as you know the behind-the-scenes secrets.  After learning each step the mystery was revealed and I soon had my first frosting rose!  I wish I had a picture of it.  It definitely wasn't perfect but what rose in nature is?  It looked real with all it's little imperfections!  I need to make some more practice ones soon before I forget the technique.  Anybody want a cake full of random roses? :)

Finally it was on to the main event - implementing the design on my cake that I literally dreamed about the night before.  I had brought with a printout of the outline of my design and tried the technique we had learned the first week with using piping gel to transfer it on to the cake.  Unfortunately this was just full of fail.  I couldn't see the lines at all.  I think if I try this again at home I'll try coloring the gel slightly so it stands out better.  But I forged ahead - freehand!  I thought for sure I was doomed.  Who thought it would be a good idea to try to freehand multiple perfect circles and straight lines?  I don't think I did too bad...

My final - I passed! :)

I wasn't super happy with the writing, but the rattle turned out pretty cute.  The picture below is before I added the yellow dots for a finishing touch...I definitely didn't decide to do them to cover up any imperfections there may have been in the white icing.  No no, not at all.

The colors came out so cute!  I had a really hard time with the brown and wanted to give up more than once.  I started with "brown" but it was very very light and not what I wanted at all.  So I added a bit of black to darken it up but that gave it a charcoal gray affect.  I added some red to brighten it up which did absolutely nothing.  Finally I poured in red, blue and green and mixed vigorously and to my surprise I got the perfect dark chocolate brown that I was looking for!  Not too shabby for my second cake and first original design. 

I tried to do the same border I wanted to do on my first cake.  The first round I plopped onto the cake turned out terrible so I finally asked the instructor for help.  She showed me on my practice board and then I was like oh yeah...the practice board!  I did a few lines for practice and then wiped off the mess I made before.  I could never quite get it exactly like I wanted, but it turned out wayyyy better than the first time!

Oh and my coworkers loved it.  Everyone took a moment to admire it before letting anyone cut in :)

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Frosting to Cupcake Ratio 1:1

Our third week of class we were to bring 6 cupcakes and green icing for leaves, light blue and dark blue for pompom flowers (which sadly I have no pictures of), and a flower color of our choice. I made a bright yellow which you can beautifully piped on the top of this cupcake.  We actually made a lot of different flowers that night, but this one came out so nicely that I didn't want to ruin it with random flowers.

First we practiced drop flowers, which are made with a big star tip and rotating your hand about 90 degrees while squeezing out the icing.  These actually frustrated all of us because they left a big hole in the middle and didn't turn out like the picture on our practice boards.  The turning motion got tiring after a while too.  You're supposed to go back and put a dot of another color in the center, but I never did that since we were just practicing.  Next up were rosettes, which turned out to be one of my favorites.  They were really easy and I thought looked really good as a border.  I tried doing both drop flowers and rosettes on top of one of my cupcakes.

Unfortunately, as you can probably tell as soon as I put my lid on my box to take my cupcakes home I smooshed the frosting down so my pretty pretty flowers got flattened.  I was fairly devastated.  But not as devestated as I would have been if my frosting hadn't stayed inside it's container when it crashed to the floor earlier that night!  It's very hard working with so many unfamiliar things in such a confined space.  At least that night I had decided to scoot down a seat so my friend and I were actually taking up two spots since our class wasn't full.  It was nice finally getting my mis en place in order.  After the rosettes we moved on to shell borders, which are a lot harder than they look.  I never really could get it down.  Apparently it's the same technique I was supposed to use when doing the border on my cake - if only we had covered it last week!

Not in love with the "flower" but the leaf turned out pretty!

Then we moved on to pompom flowers which I loved making.  If you want to see a perfect one click here.  Mine were pretty close to the same colors but not quite that perfectly shaped.  Definitely something that was fun to practice though.  Next came leaves which are surprisingly easy - the leaf tip does all the hard work for you.  Last but not least was the shaggy mum that you can see pictured above.  When I brought these into work the next day, everybody said those looked more like Cookie Monster on a bad hair day than any type of flower.  I agree...not my favorite out of the bunch.  Unless you want an excuse to pile on a mountain of frosting.  And yes - there are certainly times that I do!