Tuesday, 19 July 2011

The Day of Disaster.

Just 3 days after the last attempt at a pretty cake was my niece's Birthday.  After the puce basketweave roses fiasco I invested some time on Youtube.  Youtube is great if you ever want to know anything about everything.  It's not so great if you're not up with the caking lingo and it takes 3 hours to find what you need. 

Following is the transcript from my email to my sister.  Again language edits and commentary are in red (in case you're not sure what red looks like).

(No Subject)

Amy Marie,

Never in my life - even when I made Ella a beautiful and expensive white chocolate and raspberry cake for her birthday, only to realise 45mins later it had been sitting cold in a broken oven - has a cake made me want to cry...until now.

It started when I looked across at the stove when I was doing the dishes with my 'helpers': "What is that odd yellow puddle on th.. OH MY GOD! Fudge! Fudge, fudge, fudge! Shoot!"  (See: 1 - Tupperware) Clint had cooked pasta on the front element and failed to remove from the back one my much loved, often used and painfully expensive Tupperware cake container.  Yes Tupperware, REAL Tupperware, the kind that cost most of an average day's wage.  Clint was super apologetic: "but there's no hole in it, it's fine".  Ha!  I've already put out an emergency call to my network of school mums,  I'll have a new one by the end of the week.  I never did end up replacing that cake keeper, so sad. 

1 - Tupperware

Mmm, that cake smells good, must be nearly ready... Of course Eli starts crying and I am feeding him as the timer goes off.

Clint - I'll check it
Me - Thanks
C - It's ready
M - Does it spring back when you touch the top?
C - What?
M - Does it spring back when you touch the top?
C - What do you mean?
M - (fighting not to roll my eyes) Don't worry, can you please get a small silver skewer and poke it into the centre. Tell me if there's any batter left on it.
C - What do you mean "batter"!? (obviously panicking, has she made a pancake?)
M - That's what the cake mix is called.
C - (fighting not to roll his eyes) It's almost clean.
M - Leave it in for another 5 minutes and check again.

5 minutes later...

C - It's ready.
M - Is the skewer clean?
C - ...(ominous pause) yes.
M - Clean, clean?
C - (offended) YES!
M - Does it spring back when you touch the top?
C - What?
M - *sigh* nothing.  If you're sure it's ready can you please take it out?  Thanks for all your help, you're such a sweetheart.

Eli settles and I go to look at the cake.  What is that?  A streaky skewer, fudge, where's the cake?  There's my cake tin, it has something brown in it, but there is no way that's my cake.  Looking around for my real cake... nothing.  Shoot that's my cake.  See: Cake; it is a visual representation of the abomination, I didn't take a picture as I was too upset.

I ice the cake with chocolate buttercream, using melted chocolate instead of cocoa (I should really check my ingredients levels before I start baking).  Clint redeems himself slightly by suggesting I use a credit card to smooth the sides. (This was before I actually got around to buying tools.)  I tell him that someone who is so good at screeding should offer to ice the fudging cake for me (because I'm still passed).  See: 2 - Almost a square, and 3 - Square (still actually almost a square). 
                                                                  2 - Almost a square

3 - Square (still actually almost a square)

After a day of visiting every department store, kitchen shop and supermarket looking for a petal piping tip I concede defeat and use 'basket weave' (really, WTF?) again.

Apart from my abysmal writing skills I only had one mishap; see: 4 - Hey, that one's really pretty. Oh...

4 - Hey that one's really pretty. Oh...

But I managed to fix it; see: 5 - Big bunch of roses to cover the upside-down one.

5 - Big bunch of roses to cover the upside-down one.

By the time July rolls around I'll be awesome; see - rest of photos (note lack of puce - lesson learned)...

6 - Finished cake.

This email exchange, whilst it gave my sister a giggle and made me feel better, got me in the most trouble I've ever been in with Clint.  More trouble than he got into for going through my emails to find and read this.  He felt unfairly represented and wrote his own scathing retort to Amy (which I can't show, because I don't go through other people's emails for fun) complete with eye-rolling and dramatic sighing. 

So, yay.  My cakes are looking better and I no longer feel the overwhelming urge to save to buy my sister a wedding cake.  Everything will work out fine, or will it?  Next installment "The Day I Tried To Get Too Clever" coming soon...

The Day I Realised the Terrifying Truth.

Events occured on Friday, August 27 2010.

After learning of the wedding and the cake it is time to start practicing.  I had decided by this stage to make a buttercream cake: a. because I like the taste of buttercream; b. I didn't have any ingredients for fondant; and c. I never was any good with playdough (also I can draw well and write fairly legibly). 

After completely declining to look at a recipe (or Youtube, or Google, or ask anyone...) I flew into my first decorating foray with great enthusiasm.

This is the actual email that I sent my poor sister, who - to her credit - didn't just say "nevermind, I didn't really want a cake anyway..."

Warning: I actually feel a strange, almost physically painful, embarrassed sickness posting this.  However, since this is called 'The Evolution of Cake' and not 'Hey, Look At My Cool Cake', in the interest of honesty here it is...

Note: some comentary and editing in red, in case I offend anyone.

Subject: Cakety cake cake
So... I made a batch of buttercream and found my decorating stuff - oh only one piping bag. Fine, it's just a practice, I'll just use one  
colour (sorry about the gross puce colour - with hindsight that wasn't a good choice). 
Right! We've got our cake and our piping bag, let's make some roses...(I hear they are popular at weddings...) WHAT!? I have a set of 10 fudging piping tips and not one of them is 
for flowers of any kind!? Not a problem; this basketweave (WTF!) tip will do...
Anyway... first attempt at anything even close to that, and so far I'd
say that all signs point to promising.  (I was trying to inject myself with confidence, and being only a little sardonic...)
Photos to follow


Sent from my iPhone

Please pay extra special attention to the nice edges, and the way that I still had a problem with my icing almost, but not entirely, covering my cake. 

Next cake opportunity: My niece's someteenth Birthday (14th I think). 

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Day My Sister Set a Wedding Date.

My sister, like me, put the cart before the horse.  Met a boy, fell in love, moved in together, got engaged, and then had babies.  Actually getting married was put on the back burner; two kids, a house and careers saw to that.  

Now, imagine my excitement when she called me and said that they had actually set a date!  I love weddings, I'm a terminal wedding-cryer - the thought of two people publicly pledging their love (and saying all the soppy love and commitment stuff) reduces me to an emotional wreck.  The fact that I would be that wreck at my sister's wedding was almost too much excitement to contain.  I started imagining it with gusto (and pre-crying, I kid you not).

Being a good sister, and inappropriately involved in others' lives, I asked if there was anything I could do for her.  "Well", she said "could you make the cake?".  Could I make the cake? Of course I could make the cake!  Wholeheartedly I agreed to make a wedding cake, for a wedding, that people would be able to look at and taste and comment on.

I started imagining how I would make a cake that would send all the other cakes into a spiral of jealousy.  The best, most beautiful, cake in the whole entire world.  A cake fitting of my beautiful sister on her most magical day!

Then I remembered that the only cakes I have made were for my children's Birthday parties...and they looked like this:

This is a carousel.  Yes, that horse's legs are broken (you can see them down in front of the "cake" there).  Yes, this took me a long time to make - my time spent : results ratio was well disappointing.  We didn't actually end up eating this cake, we had the chocolate caramel cheesecake I made instead.  It was awesome.  (And yes, that is a foil-wrapped chopping board...) 

This is perhaps the best of my cake-making abilities.  A pink square that is almost, but not entirely, covered in icing.  It tasted fantastic - as chocolate cakes do - but looks like...well...a pink square that is almost, but not entirely, covered in icing...

This cake is a pinata (I don't know how to do the squiggly thingy above the 'n', let's pretend I have though).  Under the chocolate shell - that took about 5 hours and 15 re-melts - is a two-tier pink and purple monstrosity with chocolate coins in the top.  And yes, that is a foil-wrapped plate... (The plate was a giant melamine one that I had melted in the dishwasher once so it rocked slightly.)

So, at this stage I have promised my sister a wedding cake.  A wedding cake.  For an actual wedding! 

Luckily my Sister set the date well before her wedding, I can't exactly remember how long before - perhaps a year or a year and a half - so I had this unflappable confidence that I would surely become the world's best cake maker in this time.

Let's see how that goes...