Monday, August 29, 2011

The Home Stretch

Did I mention I went to bed at 5am Saturday morning? Fortunately, my sweet husband stayed up with me! It was nice not being up alone. But I couldn't sleep too late. I had to finish the wedding and groom's cake. They were baked and that was it. That's actually why I was up so late: baking the cakes. And working on the cookies.  So I set my alarm for 9 am. I got up and started at it again...
Yay for two mixers! I'm putting them to work!

I really don't have many pictures because I was too busy for that! But before I forget, let me tell you about making these cakes. The wedding cake was lemon cake. No problem. I have a great lemon cake recipe. Except I zested maybe 20 lemons. Umm... that takes a while. I zested. And zested some more. And then a little more. Whew!! Then I had to get the juice. I found every little cut in my hands. Ouch. Anyway... that's all. But making a 6" round, 8" square, and 12" round was a lot of lemon batter. 
Does anyone else have one of these? It is enormous!!

Oh and the wedding was an hour away. And it was supposed to be outside. Umm... it's crazy hot!! But they changed it the day of to an inside reception!! HOORAY! I had to be there at 6, but now that it is inside, I can get there early if I can. Sweet! That was the plan. Get there asap. The sooner I get there, the sooner I am done! So I bag cookies, make buttercream, ice the lemon cakes, make chocolate buttercream, ice the groom's cake, make the bow topper, dip 80 strawberries in chocolate, dowel stack the cakes, decorate, etc. 
The one positive of having no food at home. Plenty of room for cakes!

Well 5 pm rolls around (the time I wanted to leave) and I'm close to being done, but not quite. I start panicking. Oh my gosh I was incredibly nervous. Blah, blah, blah we head out at 5:30. Yuck. I hold the wedding cake in my lap. So nervous. Did I already mention that?  Finally we get there and it's a resort that we've never been to. We finally find where to go and set up. All good before the guests show up!!! Yay! 
Thank goodness for my phone camera :)

Close up shots

Now that you've seen the pictures... I got there and needed to fix a stripe on the front. It fell as soon as we pulled out of our house. No big deal. I put royal icing, buttercream, and chocolate buttercream piping bags in a bag just in case! Yeah... it didn't make it to the car. Fortunately the missing stripe isn't too noticeable. It was nice that the only one that fell was in the front! Ha!

And a few loops fell out of the bow, which I couldn't fix because no royal icing, but that part was in the back and not too big of a deal.

Also, the strawberries didn't harden. ugh! I practiced them! But of course the chocolate that I used then was sold out when I went to buy my supplies. So I bought a different type of chocolate. Yeah... I suppose that kind of chocolate will work but it didn't work as well as the first kind I had used. I put the strawberries on the cake but there were a lot left over that I was going to leave there. They were a mess. Oh well. Lesson learned. I haven't heard any complaints from anyone either. 

All in all, it's over. They were standing, in one piece, at the reception, on time (even if later than planned). Whew.

"For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength" (Phil. 4:13)

I've got another wedding and groom's cake to do this weekend. And we started renovating our pantry... haha this should be fun!

150 Mini Cakes

Ok, so they are 150 cake-shaped cookies. But I'm not sure that they didn't take longer than it would to make 150 mini cakes. Whew! These took days. I wish I had timed it. There was nothing "quick" about these cookies. Baking them took so long. Doesn't help that I have 3 cookie sheets and could get approximately 16 cookies in the oven at a time. Icing them took many hours. Decorating took less, but still a while. Then bagging them... more time. But you know what? I still enjoyed it! (Mostly. There was some stress, hoping I'd finish, hoping they'd dry, etc) I really like making cookies but they are time consuming. Here's my journey...

I knew I needed to bake them early on in the week. Monday night I needed to make the dough because it has to be refrigerated over night. I start after work, around 11 pm. Check this out:
That's sugar and shortening. Hint: it should be white.
See the black stuff on my fingers? Turns out you're not supposed to wash that beater in the dishwasher. Took me forever to find in the manual where it said that. It should really be somewhere on the beater. See I have an Artisan mixer that has a white beater that is dishwasher safe so I didn't even think about it. But when you put this in the dishwasher a bunch of black stuff rubs off... I don't know all the technicalities. Well it rubbed off into about 4 cups of sugar and 2 cups of shortening. No big deal. If you saw my previous post, I don't mind wasting large amounts of ingredients :(

So what do I do? This dough needs to be made. My other kitchenaid is smaller and full of chocolate icing in the fridge... I end up scrubbing the beater until all the black stuff is gone. Moral of this experience: I'm getting a new one. A nice one that scraps the bowl while mixing and is dishwasher safe. What's annoying? That Bed, Bath, and Beyond carries the beater I want... just not at any of the locations within 50 miles of me. Ugh. So it's ordered. Who knows when I'll get it. 
That's only 2/5ths of the dough I ended up using
Glad I got the 25lb bag of flour!
 The next day I begin to bake:
Did I mention I could only bake maybe 16 at a time? And it took me a while to get into my groove and get the cookies to bake how I liked them.
Oh and I usually had two pans in the oven at a time. I had just taken out 2 and was grabbing the third, not hot, pan to load it up with cookie dough... but I grabbed one of the really hot ones straight out of the oven! Yeah... Smooth right? I put my hand under cold water for a few minutes, then put it on ice. Fortunately that helped a lot! You can barely see where I got burned. You can see red on my ring and pinky finger and on the left of my palm. I know it doesn't look bad, but I get burned... often. It could've been very bad. The place on my ring finger started to blister, but fortunately none of them were bad. All better now!
First comes the outlining.
Then filling in the lines.
Then decorations!!
(sorry for the goofy sizing, but that way you can see the cookies better)

Surely you can see how there was no space in my kitchen. And I was still baking and working on cakes during this time... Fun!
All done!! Oh wait, they have to be bagged and tied too!
Honestly, Saturday morning when I woke up I needed to completely do the wedding and groom's cake: ice decorate, stack, make a bow, dip the strawberries etc. But I would've rather just sat down and bagged these cookies. I knew they were good to go and there was no more stress associated with these. Cakes were another story. Don't worry, I did work on the cakes :)
All done and ready to go. 

That's the fun adventure that were these cookies. I've had a few people ask me about cookies since I posted pictures so that's got to be a good sign!

Now the wedding and groom's cake :)

Another Birthday Cake

Ha, I say that but there's one more after this one... This one wasn't a big deal. It was chocolate cake with chocolate icing. I don't really have a chocolate icing I always use. I don't always like how mine turns out. But I managed to find a recipe that I am content with and turns out nicer than it usually does.
I'm happy with how it turned out. Pretty smooth and it doesn't look dry :)
We didn't really come up with a specific design so this is what I decided. Simple and I think it looks nice.
Well that's it for this one.  I guess I can add the 5th and final one in on this blog.

The previous cake was due on Monday. Fast forward a couple days and here comes the 12" carrot cake. Of course, I'm trying to be timely and efficient. So I bake the ENORMOUS carrot cakes one day (I honestly don't remember). Here's what happened:
Cake no. 1
Stuck to the pan!! What? I never have this problem. I'm pretty sure I use way too much non-stick spray. Can that be bad? Ugh... well there goes one cake that takes roughly 45 min to bake.
Cake no. 2
Overfilled. ugh. When will I learn? I will admit, I do this more than I'd like to admit, ha! (As you might remember from the chocolate wedding  cake I baked.) Ha, that was nothing compared to this one. It was a disaster in my oven!! I would have a picture but fortunately my hubby cleaned the oven before I got home :) 
There was no saving this one. What a mess. Hey, it's cool. I have lots of time to remake it. Oh wait... But it had to be done.
Cake no. 3 and no. 4
They kind of sunk in the middle. I don't know why, but they worked!
Cream cheese icing. I really don't like cream cheese icing. Especially in this heat.
The top was easy peasy. The sides... a pain in the BUTT! It was sliding off the sides. It wasn't my ideal, but it was alright. Unfortunately, the hour ride to the site (it went to the rehearsal dinner; it was the bride's birthday) wasn't great for it. I saw a picture of it at the dinner. Not quite the same as in this picture. Only so much I can control.
I have been doing such a good job at taking appropriate pictures. This is unacceptable... except that I don't have any other pictures. There was no time to set up my picture booth. So there it is among the mess, which you ignore and just look at the cake :)

There are all the birthday cakes! Now on to the fun stuff! Cookies, wedding cake and groom's cake!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Not a Plain Plane Cake

Like that play on words? Yeah, I'm tired... But every time I say "plane cake," it makes me think of "plain." That's just not the case, at least for me, who stayed up till 4 am working on the cake and got up at 8 am to finish it.

I knew about this cake several weeks in advance. I knew my plans for it and tried to prepare well. That can be difficult sometimes when your life is crazy!! Mine usually isn't but in the past few weeks it has been. No complaints, just saying :) I made the cake topper at the beginning of the week to make sure it was dry and ready to go by Saturday.
These are rice crispies covered in buttercream
Here's the plane covered in red fondant
The wings are out to dry too.

I made pretty much everything I would need in advance. Then I had the two birthday cakes to make. When I finished those and had the cakes for this baked, I sat down with my husband for dinner and time with him. I've been so busy, I have to at least give him a few hours of my time! Well, we fell asleep watching tv. I woke up at 11pm and I knew I had to work on the cake. It had to be ready by 10:30 am on Saturday and there would not be enough time the next morning.

So I get to work. Once I finally woke up some, I was fine. I'd rather get as much done as possible than leave it till the morning. Too stressful that way. I was nervous when I started doing the plane. I wondered if I'd waited too late to do it, if what I planned would work, if the royal icing would dry... sheesh. It all worked out though! 
I ended up having to trim the bottom wings and the red "bars" but, again, it all turned out ok, thank God! 
I used these lovely ribbon rounds to hold up the wings while the royal icing dried. 
Then I added the face and propeller (something else I was nervous about because I did not make in advance). I loved it once I added the face! How cute!

Then the rest of the planes!
These took a while. Done by hand again. By the way, the inspiration for this cake was the party decor:
I had the 3-D plane (mostly) complete, the 2-D fondant planes complete, the cakes iced, and stacked. All I had to do in the morning was decorate (or so I remember). So around 4am I go to bed with my alarm set for 8am! (Again, I think... I know that's what time I got up. I might have set it for 9 and my husband woke me up earlier, not knowing what time I went to bed. He let me sleep but once I was up, I knew I had that cake to finish and had to get up and finish it!)
Good morning!! Don't you love air bubbles?? I sure... don't. I feel like I get them all the time, and I'm not sure why. I know it might seem obvious, but I don't know what happens. And I can never get them to go down either. I worked on this one a while. When I was delivering it, it was popping up again. Bummer. Fortunately it wasn't that obvious... I think. Maybe I just took pictures that hid it, haha!

I take a lot of pictures. A lot. And because I can, I want to post them all... 

I added wheels!
He's stuck in there with a dowel. Still stressful driving around with it.
You can see the slight bubble remaining in this pic.
Oh yeah! I had a smash cake too! Thank goodness I had extra batter and decided to bake a 6 inch because I don't like to waste cake. Small blessings.

All done! What a cake. Whew! I do kinda like it... :) You have to admit, that 3-D plane is cute! Thank goodness my husband was home to drive me to deliver it. I held it but that plane on top got me pretty nervous! We met the dad so then it was up to him to get it there. I believe it arrived safely! Hooray!