June 27, 2009

Daisies - my favorite!

A friend of mine bought a daisy cake pan for her daughter's first birthday. Unfortunately she had some problems getting the cake out of the pan and it ended up being scrapped for a store bought cake. She was devastated!
So I decided to try out her pan to see if it was her oven that might have done it, or the greasing of the pan.

I was pretty impressed with how it turned out. I did find out it was the greasing of her pan that didn't work. According to the directions, shortening and flour is all that you needed, but I used the Wilton Cake Release and the cake came out of the pan like butter. I highly recommend the product!
I tried out my new triple star tip to do this cake. I was amazed at how quickly I was able to ice it with that tip! If you are ever going to do this kind of an icing job, get the triple star.. worth every cent of the $4 I spent.

June 25, 2009

Cake #3 - The Wilton Rose Finale!

Class Finale... Make the Wilton Rose.. 7 of them

I was pretty excited to be finally learning the rose. I don't know why but it seems to be it is one of those things that look so frigging hard, but really, is not.
And that is true.
It really isn't hard to do..
However I still suck at it!

The class itself was uneventful. We spent an hour on the roses, and the learned sweet peas, and leaves - all very easy to do. But the Rose was my enemy. I figured out pretty quickly that my icing was just not good enough for roses. With butter added to it, the icing gets very warm being in the bag, and therefore melts. So my roses ended up very soft, and meshed together. I couldn't spearate the three layers of petals out, so in the end my roses look more like Peonies.
Oh well...
It was my first attempt! I definitely see where practice is needed in order to perfect this. I can remember watching a Food Network Challenge in which the contestant made a few dozen roses in under 10 minutes. It looked so easy to her, like second nature.
Thank is what I hope to be one day... just second nature to do a rose.

Anyways, our finale cake was all about the Rose. So 7 roses (peonies) went on my cake and a bit of sweet peas surrounding the base, and viola! Final cake:

I was a little worried about the color combinations when I mixed the icing up, but in the end I was really pleased with the choice. The roses (peonies) were a peach color and the cake a smoky blue. Out of my three class cakes, I was very proud of this one.

So that's it for course 1. I start course two in about 10 days and I am looking forward to it. Alas, there is only one cake we make for that series, so I will probably have to make some cakes on the side to practice. I guess my husband will have more cakes to take to work. And of course, I need a ton of practice learning my nemesis, the Rose.

June 21, 2009

Clowns and Cakes and Bears... Oh My!

So here we are, Sunday. And I have yet had a chance to practice my rose making. I have however, made a clown, three mini bear cakes, a mini Father's Day cake and a small batch of icing.
Guess my priorities are a bit skewed! (Hey, I have plenty of time for practice!)

In any case, I decided to try my hand at the scary clown so you can see what I mean. So here is Chuckles:

See?? He is scary, isn't he? Wouldn't you have nightmares if this thing was on your cake?
Ok, maybe not. I thought Chuckles turned out pretty cute in the end. He was made with plain white icing, and the colors came from striping the bag with a bit of food coloring. So when it piped out, the color ran onto the icing. Considering where some of the red ended up, I think I would pick a better color; is looks like Chuckles was shot in the chest and bled down his leg...

While I was out shopping on Friday, I went to a local craft store to see if they had anything "cute" for me to add to my cake decorating essentials. While it wasn't an essential, it certainly was cute! I found this cute 3d mini bear pan. I thought this would be so cute for my daughter's First Birthday next month! She could eat the whole bear by herself if she wanted to!
So I picked up the pan and decided since this weekend was Father's Day, I could make a bear cake to try it out and see what I thought. Of course I picked the busiest weekend we had to try and fit in some cake making..
We got home Saturday night and put our daughter to bed.. then I proceeded to make some bears. Needless to say a batch of cake batter yields about 4 cups, whereas my little bear friend only takes 1 cup.
So for about 2 hours, I made three bears, and a mini cake. I had to make a bear, let it cool, wash the pans, regrease and fill and bake again. My poor husband got stuck eating the leftover cake that flowed over the pans. I think by the end he probably ate about a cup worth of cooked cake.
Anyways, I was quite happy how the bears turned out. They looked so cute just standing there cooling. It was almost a shame I had to cover it in icing.
So this afternoon we get home from running around, with barely enough time for me to make a batch of icing and figure out how to ice the bear.

This is the Bear on the pan box. This is how my bear "should" look like:

And this is what my bear looked like:

My husband calls it the Scary Bear. I thought he wasn't bad looking for a first attempt. He does look like he is high on crack though! I found out that having a buttercream icing, with pure butter in it, may taste better than shortening, but a butter icing will melt in the piping bag from the heat in your hand. Needless to say the back of my bear was a little left to be desired.

Oh well... He tasted good at least!

While it was tedious work, I did get to practice my star making, so I think I might become a pro at that after all is said and done!
I still have two bears on ice. I think I will make those up this week for a get together I am hosting. We'll see what they might become!

Because of time constraints on Saturday night, I didn't want to stay up for another 30 minute session to make a 4th bear, so I threw my mini cake pans in with the last bear and made a small cake. Since my Dad was coming over for dinner for Father's Day, I made this cake for him. It was nothing special, but it did help me practice the shell border. I didn't have enough time to do much with this one.

So I promise, I will practice my Rose making before my last class. I don't forsee any reason why I need to make another cake between now and Wednesday..

Oh, wait a minute...
I haven't actally made my cake yet FOR Wednesday!!
Oops! Better get on that!!

June 18, 2009

Cake #2 - Flowers and Shells

The class this week was all about drop flowers, making faces, clowns and the shell border. I had my cake all ready to go, so surprisingly this class there was very little decorating left to do - Add a shell border and stick the premade flowers on. Yet it was tedious work. I now know why Laura said to make about 100 flowers for this cake. About 30 of my flowers broke before I got them on my cake, and another 10 broke while being applied to the cake.


I did manage to get my flowers on, and stay on. But I had to mourn the loss of about 40 flowers in the process. I did learn something however - I figured my flowers had dried too quickly when making them, so when I added the center dot to stabilize it, the icing had already dried too much to really stick. So I think if I were to do these again, I would make sure I had both icing colors ready to go and once the flowers were made, I would add the center. I think then I wouldn't have lost as many flowers.

Anyways, my second cake:

I was actually really pleased with how this cake turned out. the icing is a pale pink, and I think shows up better in my previous post. The flowers were very bright and spring-like. And totally a girl's cake.

Too bad my husband had to take this one to the office... full of guys.. full of computer geek guys..

As you can see on the side of my cake, the chocolate cake crumbled when I applied the icing, and I got some crumbs on the outside. Something I need to work on with chocolate. Next time I think I will do a thin layer of icing, then let to dry and apply another layer on top.

We also learned how to make clowns. Yes, those scary clowns. I am going to practice them over the next week and will show pictures here. In the end, they were kind of cute. But I still wouldn't put them on my cake!!
Next week is our final class for Course One. We will learn the final steps to making the Wilton Rose, and will make a rose cake complete with bow. It is not the type of cake I would normally like to do, but I can see that learning how to make the rose properly will come in handy if I decide to pursue a side business in decorating. Too many wedding cakes with simple flowers!

But for now... practice practice practice!!

June 17, 2009

Homework- I thought I was done with this??

I managed to find time this week to get my flowers made for tonights class. We had to choose between making a clown cake, or one with a bunch of flowers. Laura told us the clown cake was much easier, then the flowers time consuming.
Since clowns scare me "Can't sleep, clowns will eat me" I decided to challenge myself and make the flowers.

To be honest, it wasn't that hard. I did a few practice flowers over the weekend and figured out how to do it, then spent Monday night making my flowers. Some of them are pretty good, some of them I'm sure a 3rd grader could do a better job. But needless to say I will have enough for my cake.

Now this is not all of my flowers. I had to make about 100 of them, but you get the idea. I decided to make a pale pink cake with these purple and pink flowers. I realized after I made my choice that my husband would be taking this cake to work. Not exactly a "manly" cake.. oh well, men will eat anything, right?

This time around I decided to make a "real" buttercream icing, and not the shortening crap the instructor preferred us to make. Now I know why she probably wanted us to stick with shortening. I have a much harder time not wanting to lick the bowl with the real stuff!! Damn I make good icing!!

Doesn't this look much better?
Well, not really. I guess they all look the same. But I assure you, this one tastes way better!

And my iced cake, ready to go for tonight's class.
This cake is a remake of my chocolate cake I screwed up last week. I made sure this time the cake was cooked fully, and I must say it smells really good. The filling is a chocolate pudding with a blueberry cherry jam.

As this is only my second cake icing it "correctly" instead of using that jarred Betty Crocker stuff, I am fully enjoying doing this. I have already thought ahead about making a cake this weekend for my Husband's work BBQ, and possibly making a cake for Father's Day on Sunday.

We'll see how much time I have left in the coming days. My Daughter like to take all of my time, which I definitely don't mind!
Im excited to learn how to make faces tonight, and the dreaded clown. I don't know if I will ever use the clown, but I can see the potential it might have if I decide to make this hobby a side business.
Of course, I love to get ahead of myself. Two classes and I think I'm Martha Stewart!!

June 11, 2009

Cake #1 - Stars and Rainbows

So class #1 is complete and I brought my cake home all nice and decorated. I was quite pleased how my rainbow turned out, even though my writing sucks. Good thing they have stencils for us inept writers! So here is my finished cake.
Not bad eh? My writing is pathetic correct?

I had just enough time in class to finish the rainbow and add my star border, when I decided the vast amount of icing I had made needed to be put to good use. So I added the stars all over the sides. Overall I was pleased with my final result. It actually looked like I cake I might eat... but then I remembered the shortening in the icing and immediately lost my appetite! Needless to say my husband took it to work for all of them the eat! Boys will eat anything! I have decided on my next cake, I will make the base icing with butter. However with shortening it definitely makes it easier for me not to lick my fingers!

Our cake for next week we have homework to do. We had our choice of making a clown cake, or a cake with a bunch of flowers on it. Clowns scare me, so flowers it is!
Because we don't have a lot of time in class, we have to prepare our flowers ahead of time. So before class I have to have approximately 100 flowers made and dried, ready to go on the cake. Should be interesting since I haven't even learned how to do the flower yet!

Now to decide if I attempt another scratch cake, or take stock in Betty Crocker...

June 10, 2009

The toothpick Lied!!

So, like a good student, and a stay-at-home mother who has oodles of time on her hands to bake a cake, I decided to make a cake from scratch. I got everything out, and made my cake yesterday so it had plenty of time to cool and rest before I needed to torte it and ice it for class tonight.

My lovely daughter woke me up early and down we came for breakfast. I fed my kid, fed myself and then began to get my cake sliced so I could fill the center with the jam.
The center of my beautiful chocolate cake was raw....
I knew when I cooked it yesterday that it had to go in a bit longer than the recipe called for simply because I was using a 3inch deep pan instead of a 2 inch deep. The cake was in about ten minutes extra, and when I put my toothpicks in the center to check for completion, my toothpicks were clear of residue.
Yeah, well the toothpicks lied..
My beautiful chocolate cake was ruined from the inside out. I surprisingly swore very little, had myself a chuckle and thankfully remembered I had bought a boxed cake mix "just in case" something happened. Looks like I needed it.
So this time I baked the cake and kept checking it long after the time was done per the box, and eventually got a complete, edible cake done.
I guess Betty Crocker and me get along pretty good!

So once my cake cooled, it was time to do the well, and fill my jam in the center. I made up another batch of icing, colored it light blue, as per class instructions, and filled my cake center.

Looks decent, right?
Next came the top, and then icing the entire cake.

Then came the icing. I used my new icing tip, which is supposed to make icing the cake a lot easier. Having never really iced one before, I can't say if this is a time saver yet, but my instructor swears by it.

And then the final iced job, ready to take to class tonight.

So there we go. Cake is ready. Hopefully I won't butcher this so it looks like crap!!

June 8, 2009

Learning the basics..Am I doing this right?

Since I have a week in between classes, there is plenty of time for me to play around with my kit and try out everything. The hard part is not bringing it out every chance I get. This is why I never got new toys when I grew up.
I decided to try making my first batch of Class icing so I could figure out the consistencies I needed to have. Needless to say, Calgary is a very dry city. When the recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of liquid, Calgary needs about six. So I was a little worried about my first try when it came out like this:

Im pretty certain this means my icing is too stiff!
I added a bit more liquid to it to get to what I thought was a medium consistency, good enough for making most decorations. I decided to try out my new piping bags, and tip #16 to make the simple star shape, which we are using for our first cake.
Remember when your father/grandfather/brother etc would tell you to measure twice and cut once? Yeah, same applies with piping bags. You put the coupler in and mark where to cut so it goes through the bottom of the bag, but not all the way through.
Needless to say, I measured once, cut once and lost a 10 inch bag.

The dumb part was I have 42 disposable bags in my kit, which would have been a lot cheaper to lose than the featherweight one.
So I tried the disposable one.
I managed to cut the tip off correctly this time, but soon realized my icing was not the right consistency.
Icing should not take 15 seconds to squeeze out of the bag.
And icing should not hurt your hand when you try squeezing it out..
And icing should not blow a hole in the side of the bag and cascade all over the countertop..

Sigh... Back to the drawing board.

June 4, 2009

Lesson One - Shortening?? Really??

Last night was my first class for the Wilton Cake Decorating Level 1. I wasn't sure what I was expecting, but the class certainly was entertaining. The instructor, Laura has been teaching the class for a year and loves decorating cakes. For her decorating is her hobby. Some people like scrap booking.. Laura likes cakes. I guess I'm in the same category. I'd rather bake something than cut out paper and pictures and stick them in a book.

So the first thing we do is go through the materials needed for the class. I guess there is no such thing as just buying the lesson kit and being done with it.. Oh no... Now you need Meringue Powder to use in the icing instead of eggs (don't want to kill anyone with raw eggs!), you need piping gel for one little detail in the first cake, you need a turntable to put your cake on and you need a cake caddy to bring your cakes to class. On top of the icing colors, the vanill flavoring, the rose cutter, the cake icer tip, etc etc etc.. Now I suppose I was expecting to have to spend money on extra things. And since I am planning on taking all four courses, it was a lot cheaper for me to buy the creme de la creme - a 100 Piece Tool Caddy Decorating set. How much did that set me back??
Before or after the 50% off Michaels Coupon... (Can I just say I love those coupons!)

So 100$ later, I had my Caddy kit, and thankfully the kit has everything I will need for all four courses and more, so I don't have to buy the lesson kits, which cost about $20-40 after coupons.

Anyway, back to class..

So Laura runs us through what we need to have, and begins showing us how to "torte" and "ice" a cake. I know what icing a cake is, but I had never heard the term "torting" before.
Well who knew people actually made a cake and cut them in half to put filling in the center? Here I was always making two separate cakes and trying to pile them on top of each other! Needless to say my cakes always looked like crap.
Laura assures us that we can still make two cakes and slap them together, but we have to make at least one cake where we "torte" it. So I will play by the rules and torte my cakes. Least it gives me an excuse to buy a new cake pan since mine are all 2 inches tall!

After torting and adding some vanilla pudding to the center, and putting the top layer back on the cake, we are now ready to "ice" the cake.

Of course, we are in a Wilton class, so we can only use a Wilton recipe for making buttercream icing. And I must say, when I make cakes on my own, I will be looking for another recipe!

Class Buttercream Icing (stiff consistency)
1 cup solid white vegetable shortening (can you say blech??)
1 teaspoon Wilton Flavor (Vanilla, Almond, or Butter)
3 tablespoons milk or water
1 lb pure icing sugar
1 tablespoon Wilton Meringue Powder
Pinch of salt (optional)

I don't think I have ever had shortening in my house. I know my grandmother still uses it, hence why I cannot eat many of my grandmothers pies.
But in icing???

Of course, this is the recipe we have to follow for class. And because I am such a good student, I will follow.

Laura proceeds to show us gadget #1 which is a large cake icer tip and piping bag. This way you put the icing on the cake in a nice, easy fashion and then spread it out evenly, rather than taking your cake spatula and doing the same thing..

I, however am lucky enough to get this in my creme de la creme caddy. No spatula slathering for me!

Within a few moments she has iced the cake. It looks very plain.. a white icing on a white cake..
Yet I know hers looks 10 times better than mine will!!

Before we know it, lesson is over. For all classes, we must bring in a cake that has been torted and iced and ready for decorating.
Then Laura spouts off all of the essentials we need to bring into next class. My head starts spinning with the amount of stuff I have to bring. So much for being able to walk every week to class! I think I need a new vehicle just to carry everything in it!

Overall, I am looking forward to this adventure. I am going to get my cake baked and ready for icing on the weekend, and I will be all ready for my next class. Hopefully my decorated cake will look like it is supposed to!

June 3, 2009

So I finally did it..

So I finally did it. After many years of thinking about it, waivering on whether to do it, finding the time to do it, I decided screw it.

I enrolled in the Wilton's Cake Decorating classes put on by Michaels.

oooOOohhh frightening I know. I don't have a clue about decorating. But I know I like it. I watch all of those cake shows.. the Ace of Cakes, the Food Network Challenges, Cake Boss.. I look at those and think "It can't be that hard to do!!"

Well I guess I will find out.

Tonight is my first class. I'm excited about it. Mainly because it gets me out of the house one night a week and away from my ten month old daughter. I get to interact with adults for a few hours about something other than children. I get to feel human again!

So we'll see what this new adventure might bring for me. Maybe I will find out I have a talent for cake decorating. Maybe I will become the next Duff Goldman. Maybe I will win $10,000 on the next cake challenge...

Or Maybe I will just have a good time and laughs with my friends.
So this blog is to document my cake decorating attempts and to just have some fun with things.
So bring your wine.... You will probably need it!