Friday, August 13, 2010

Rocking the Bake Sale

Two cakes destined not only to bring sweet smiles, but also raise some money for a local youth football club. 
Luscious Raspberry Lemonade Cake
Lemon Sour Cream Cake with Raspberry Filling finished with 
All American Lemon Almond Buttercream and fresh raspberries.

 Marana Broncos Chocolate Cake
Dark Chocolate Cake with whipped Chocolate Buttercream filling. 
Covered with dark chocolate ganache and “Tootsie Roll” Fondant.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Congratulation in Four Tiers, to Hootie and Nicholas

I had the honor of helping friends Hootie and Nicholas Povio, celebrate their wedding vows this past weekend by making their wedding cake.  It was such a joy to create this time honored symbol of matrimony...and a creative jackpot as the (ultra-cool) bride gave me her color palette and a few pictures of cakes she liked and told me to surprise her and her husband! 

The cake was a 12", 10", 8", and 6" covered in fondant. I used a combination of Satin Ice and Fondarific (I originally wanted to use all Fondarific because of how well it performs in dry climates, but the color was too light for my design).  

Two tiers of the cake were Mexican Hot Chocolate with a New Mexico Red Chile Whipped Chocolate Ganache filling. The remaining two tiers were Dark Chocolate Cake with a layer of Salted Caramel and Whipped Chocolate Caramel Ganache. 

Hootie choose to use this delicate cake topper which was a family heirloom.  The top tier was covered in small blossoms that I hand cut, formed, then dusted with edible pearl dust. They are adhered to the cake with a dot of melted chocolate. 

Making the flowers was a multi-day process as they required drying time before being dusted with pearl.

The second tier was created with irregular strips of fondant and the third was an organic, waving rope of fondant thanks to the Makin Clay Extruder. Such a fabulous tool for working with fondant and getting uniform results. These two layers represented the masculine, grounded nature of Nicholas and the free flowing energy of Hootie. The bottom layer came to be with a little help from Hooties' friends as I asked them about what some of her favorite song and lyrics were.  Because music is such a big part of Hootie's passion for life, it was hard to choose from so many songs that have played in the soundtrack of their romance. 

Because the world can not live on chocolate alone, the bride also requested some cupcakes for those who prefer lighter flavors. I did three dozen White Almond Sour Cream cupcakes with All American Almond Buttercream frosting. They were baked in the most elegant parchment cups. I LOVE these cupcake wrappers! With just one pull of the corners the wrapper is fully opened and the little cake can be enjoyed with a fork, or fingers. 

Of course transporting a wedding cake four hours through Southern Arizona was something to give any caker a nervous breakdown. After a lot of research, I decided upon using Bakery Craft's Single Plate Separator system for staking. It consists of a plate with four 4" legs pushed into the top of each cake layer that will be supporting a layer on top of it. There is a small peg that fits into the cardboard cake round on stacked layer. 

The only real trick to this is that your cakes really need to be 4" to 4 1/8" maximum so that the legs can fully support the weight. With the fondant, my layers were closer to 4.25" and therefore there was a little bit of a tilt when the cakes were stacked. They say that you can drive with a fully stacked cake, but I'm glad I played it safe and took them separate. Cutting was a breeze, though I'm glad I was there because I was able to show the cake cutter how to just pull out the plates (plus I got to take the plates home!) 

Thank you so much Hootie and Nicholas for giving me a chance to share my love of baking with your guests on this special day.  The wedding was just amazing--set upon a magnificent swath of green grass with the red rocks of Sedona blazing in the background. It was a beautiful night full of love and laughter. A perfect way to start your married journey together. 

Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Manly Cake for a Man's Man. Man.

Tall, dark, and handsome--this cake helped celebrate a friend's birthday over the weekend. And as the gentleman of honor is so known for his subtly and sophistication, it is only fitting that his cake exude a certain level of elegance as well. (if you are buying any of this, I have some beachfront property in Yuma to show you...)

The cake is a dark chocolate with American buttercream and red raspberry filling. It is finished with whipped chocolate ganache buttercream on the sides, and the top is finished with the same vanilla almond buttercream as in the filling. The scrolls are done freehand with a smooth dark chocolate ganache and the monogram is chocolate fondant.  

This cake is the first quarter-sheet I have done in a while. Now that I have been introduced to the quality of professional bakeware, there was no way I could bake this cake in my standard 9 x 13 cake pan. Problem number one: the sides are slanted. This makes sense for the home baker; the sloped sides makes it easy for pans to nest inside each other when stored. But that slope on my pan was a half inch on each side. So the bottom measurements were 8 x 12! And with only a 2" side, I would have to bake and cut down two cakes to make the sides straight. I ended up buying a gorgeous Fat Daddio's 9" x 13" x 3" heavy aluminum pan. The sides are perfectly straight, but the inside edge has just enough of a radius to allow for a smooth release. And with the 3" height, I can bake to a dome, then shave off the top for a level cake that can split into two 1.5" layers. With filling and frosting, the cake topped out nearly at 4" high--a great proportion for a filled, quarter-sheet. 

Of course with any new cake there is bound to be a learning curve. With the deeper 3" pan, I wasn't sure how much cake batter to fill up the pan to get a nice dome (and if my rich chocolate batter would be able to maintain it's integrity to do so).  I ended up with a nicely baked cake, but upon cooling the center sank in a bit. I had used two flower nails and heating cores, but I don't think it was enough (going to research that one on  

A spackle of cake and chocolate ganache fills a sink in the center of cake. 

To solve this problem and to not loose any height, I broke out a some saved cake scraps (you know, what gets leveled off cakes) and made a spackle of it with some chocolate ganache. Just enough to fill in the center before I flipped the cake onto it's board and got it ready to torte and fill. I have found that lightly 'buttering' your cake layers with a thin layer of buttercream keeps the filings from soaking too far into the cake. 

Bottom layer with a buttercream dam on the edge to enclose the raspberry filling.