Friday, March 26, 2010

Life in the Desert

All the flowers this week seemed appropriate. It rained all winter and it's been beautiful and warm for a week now. The whole desert has turned bright green (yes, it does happen) and started to bloom. A wonderful way to start the spring.

Week 3 of Course 2 was more flowers! Did I mention before how much I like these flowers? I had some triumphs (whoo-hoo primrose) and some tragedies (mums), but got a whole mess of flowers for the cake for the last class and a homework assignment to make a whole bunch more.

We startede with mums. They didn't go well for me. Though I think it was more of an icing consistency issue than anything else.
I think a little time and practice will help the mums out. Good think I need to make about a dozen more.

The daisies were an issue too. My petals liked to make a spiral shape rather than radial petals. And the first half always looked better than the last half because I'd drag the tip through the ones I'd already made. But they're just too dang cute.
We also made daffodils, which I loved because I got to use my mad petal skills on these. Again, this looks ratty, but I made it pretty early on and I didn't finish up the later ones yet.
But these last two were by far my very favorite. Pressed for time, we sadly didn't get to make many of these during class.

I LOVED the pansies. Though they made me think of my mother's bathroom. I tried a couple different color combinations.
White and yellow:
Aren't those the most amazing petals ever? Couldn't you just DIE?!
And yellow and purple:

I think I will paruse the interwebs and find some fun color combinations for the rest of them. Some bag striping seems appropriate.

But out of all of the flowers, my favorite is the primrose. They're supposed to be pink, but this was in the last 10 minutes of class, so I just used the white bag already prepped. But I ADORE these flowers and the sweet little heart-shaped petals.
I had to make a flower collection my freshman year of high school for my PreAPBiology class. And the pink evening primrose was one of the flowers that made it into my collection. So I'm looking forward to making more of these.

Next up is the final cake! We'll get to see all these flowers and sightless birds together!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I am the rose bud master!

The roses from Course 1 became something of a nemesis for me. I could never the the frosting or piping just right to make them look right. But Course 2 started with a victory: the rosebud!

Behold the perfect rosebud:

I realize that it's looking a little pale, but it is piped PERFECTLY people! Color has to bearing when the structure is this awesome!

The first lesson of Course 2 was on the basic flower petal. That's the one in the back. It sets up the structure of many of the flowers that we'll learn in this course, so being as awesome at it as I am was a good sign of things to come. But we didn't actually make anything to keep and sadly, the perfect buttercream rose bud got scraped back into the frosting.

And just for the record, I'm totally digging Course 2 more. Royal Icing is so much easier than the finiky buttercream and I don't have to bake a cake each week, just one at the end. But the best part is that our class is half as big and the instructor has way more time for each of us.

Life beyond buttercream

It does exist! There is something other than buttercream!

Okay, so I know a whole lot of people don't exactly like the royal icing. It's hard and crunchy, where buttercream is sweet and gooey. And I will blame most of the buttercream issues on the Wilton's recipe because I know there's all sorts of other ones out there (the hubbin' doesn't like how sweet it is anyway). But even with the fact that the royal dries out super quick, it just behaves so nicely.

Week 2 of Course 2 was all about colorflow and flowers. Everything we made will go on our final cake.

The first thing we did was make Colorflow icing. It's like royal, but harder. And it dries to a glossier finish. It's apparently pretty popular to use on cookies, but I will forever stand by my sugar cookie icing. There is absolutely nothing that tastes better. But the Colorflow is a handy way to make smaller decorations, particularly ones you can do ahead of time. I think that copying images out of kid's coloring books would go really well with this. Maybe favorite cartoon charachters.

Our Colorflow wasn't quite so exciting. We made birds.

These are the Wilton's preapproved decorations for our final cake. They're not all that bad, though they're sightless at the moment. We'll use the food color markers to add in the eyes and color in the beak. This little dude even looks sorta cute. Even makes me think of a certain person I know.  :)
The rest of the class was making royal icing flowers. I LOVE making flowers! And that's probably a good thing seeing as how we need a whole mess of them to make the cake. Of course the base for these is the petal that I totally rocked the week before.

We made apple blossoms:

A better view:

My understanding is that the apple blossoms are supposed to be a nice soft, barely pink color. But holy crap, the frosting turned a BRIGHT (nearly Karen) pink awful fast. So I'll take the colorful ones for now.

We also made violets:
They totally made me think of Alice in Wonderland, old-school Disney, not the new one. A little better view:
That one looks a little rough around the edges. I'm still working on the right angle to get the petal to curl in a little at the top. Gonna take some practice.

I I know it looks sparse, but I do have like 10 or so of each flower for the cake. Making more at the next lesson.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dang roses

The big finale for Wilton's Course 1 is the rose. Those things were obviously created by the person who thought the Scary Ass Clowns (TM) were a great idea. I don't believe that anyone can make these things look like the pictures in our book. Doesn't happen in real life.

They look easy enough to make. Mound of icing, pipe rows of petals- 3,5,7 for each. But I am apparently useless at these things. The good thing is that noone really notices how bad they are. Flashy red frosting for the roses, slap 'em on chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I bucked the Wilton's system and made the chocolate frosting from the side of the Hershey's cocoa box instead of the approved course buttercream. I regret nothing.

Mmmmmmmm.............. chocolaty piped border:

Jagged, droopy red roses:

And a message that clearly indicates I need some practice with my piping skills.

There's always Course 2.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Because ducks have heads

"What kind of scary ass clowns came to your birthday parties?!"

Oh Friends, is there a single situation in life that doesn't have an appropriate reference?

Yes, this was the week of the ScaryAss Clown Cake(TM). I still don't understand why Wilton's thinks these things are a good idea. Should a cake give you nightmares?

I have to admit, these little guys aren't quite as terrible as expected. They're looking a little droopy here because the head is too heavy for the body. I think the buttercream was a little thin.

 Sadly, I had something of a cake catastrophe. I bought some clearance white chocolate after Christmas and wanted to make a white chocolate cake. Easy, right? Then I decided that white chocolate goes really well with raspberries, so awesome filling.

My problems included:
1) The recipe made a 3-layer cake. Which means it barely fit into the cake carrier. And definately wouldn't hold the Scary Ass Clowns (TM) on top. So I just stuck the disembodied heads on the top of the cake.  :) Sorry, didn't take pictures of this. Even that was too tall for the cake carrier.

2) I didn't really think my raspberry mousse filling through. It completely collapsed on me. Which meant that all my icing on the cake started sliding down. Next time I try this, I think I'll start with Bettercream for the filling.

So on top of the top of the cake being messed up from having to remove the disembodied Scarry Ass Clown (TM) heads to bring the cake home, I had drooping frosting on the sides. Please excuse the terrible lighting in the last picture. It was taken with my cell phone early the next morning before sending it off to TCTMNBN for the hubbin to share.
Take note of the drooping dots on the side too. But taste-wise I still got complements. No one complains about free baked goods. So decorating was a wash, but it wasn't a complete disaster.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Kiss me, I'm Irish

At least I think I've got some Irish in the family tree somewhere. St. Patrick's Day is a great excuse to mix two things everybody loves: booze and cupcakes. It's a comon theme and one of my favorite blogs, Smitten Kitchen, posted these Guinness Chocolate cupcakes with Bailey's Frosting. Boozy chocolate cupcakes, boozy ganache filling, and boozy buttercream? Count me in!

But count my pocketbook out. I made a couple changes, seeing as how my liquor cabinet includes peppermint schapps, a bottle of wine we got as a gift, and the ever present Shiner Bock. I skipped the whiskey in the ganache, the chocolate is pretty yummy without it. And I balked at paying $15 for a bottle of Bailey's. But then I got pretty darn creative, and low-and-behold, I found an Irish cream Coffee Mate. Good enough for me. Those two changes are the only ones I made to the whole batch.

And seeing as how I had some leftover Colorflow mix from my Wilton's class, I decided to make these nice and festive. Gonna use this little technique in the future, definately.
Hope you recovered from your hangovers quickly.

I have the awesomest Momma in the whole wide world!

I got a package in the mail yesterday! And apparently my mother went shopping. All sorts of cupcake goodness.
I've totally gotta start baking more or I'll never get through all 500 recipes. Quite a few are variations on some basic recipes, so it's not quite as overwhelming as it sounds at first.

And no, the Mars book has no cupcake recipes in it, but Mars makes everything more awesome.