Sunday, August 29, 2010

A rumbly in Melissa's tummbly

Baby Shower #2!

Seems everyone has gotten themselves knocked up here lately (don't these people know that we're in a recession?!). And I volunteered to make the cake for the baby shower for my very favorite astronomer, the BEAUTIFUL Melissa and her (not a geek) husband Stephen. They're expecting a little boy (who will probably be a giant nerd, but that's okay) any second now.

See? Didn't I tell you she's purty?

Picture above by Sara J Williams Photography. Hope she doesn't mind me borrowing the picture since I gave her a plug. :)

The baby shower theme was Winnie the Pooh, so Pooh cake she got! We went around a while to try to decide on a design for the cake. But the mommy-to-be said to me in an email: "I think when you Said Pooh, I just had this mental image of a full-blown scene with all the characters and trees and everything with cute little quirks like the Mr. Sanders sign and leaves blowing a blustery day and whatnot." I've never doubted that this astronomer is a brilliant woman, but this was actually pretty close to the original idea that I had but scrapped and never pitched to her. It was supposed to be Classic Pooh, but when she wanted Disney Pooh I wasn't sure what to do with it.

So blustery days and Mr. Sanders she got! I love the cartoons and all the funny little Pooh things. And my very favorite part ever is when Pooh sings "I'm just a little, black Hovering over the honey tree" Too cute. So I wanted Pooh and his balloon to take center stage.

Again, I have no pictures of the process, but lots of the finished product.

Pooh's House- Complete with the Mr. Sanders sign and the bell.
Piglet's House- This sign hangs in front of his first house (the one that got flooded). He thought his grandfather's name was Trespassers William.
Roo! This was my favorite out of all the characters I made because he was so darn cute. And with him was Kanga and Roo's mailbox.
The bridge where they play Pooh Sticks. And I learned that this is a real place too! They have Pooh Sticks championships. It was originally Posingford Bridge in Ashdown Forest. You can visit next time you're in the U.K. It's on my list now.
T-I-double-GUH-ER. :) With his corkscrew tail even. 
Evil Piglet-I don't know what happened here. I've tried to pin-point what's wrong, but I just can't put my finger on it. *Sigh* Oh well. At least he looks all blustery, right?
Pooh! (sorta) Apparently the camera focused on Pooh instead of the bee, but it was a nice picture of him anyway.
Rabbit's wheelbarrow- I was gonna make Rabbit and his garden too, but he got dropped last minute. That's what happens when you get a real job that you have to work full time the week before the shower.
Eeyore! He's sweet and adorable and I LOVE how the mohawk turned out.
Pooh's Thoughtful Spot- Halfway between Pooh's house and Piglet's.

The Front

The back

The side
The cake! Chocolate cake, caramel mousse filling, chocolate buttercream frosting (this stuff'll give you the sugar highs). But it looked pretty when it was cut.
Tristan (the cousin-to-be)- The picture was funny, couldn't resist adding it in. :)
And the aftermath- This almost makes me a little sad to see all my little critters like this. We had Tristan to thank for all the ears being eaten off. He's southern, he can't help it. :P

Congratulations Melissa and Stephen! May your baby not be a geek or too big a nerd.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Red-ish Velvet Cupcakes

I was supposed to bake my mom a cake for her 50th birthday, but got a job instead. I figured it was a perfectly fine trade-off but apparently this has been in the back of her head for a year now. So on a trip back home (which included a couple long car rides, 14 hours each way) she declared I had to bake her a cake. Still reeling from the coconut cake disaster, I skipped trusting someone else's cake pans and opted for cupcakes.

BONUS! I had a sous chef for the cake! If you don't speak any French (for that matter, this is probably one of the three French words I know) sous means "under" and it's the chef's right hand man. Or in this case preteen girl. The best part is putting her on "dry stuff" duty since I hate measuring flour. This is why I always just do it by weight. This site is bookmarked on my phone (my cookin' buddy). And Alton Brown says that's the best way to do it anyway. And whatever AB says is like cooking law.

WARNING! PG-13 Friends reference follows. If you're easily offended, please scroll down past the little stars. The only reason I ever remember this French stuff is an episode of Friends when Phoebe dates Monica's sous chef. When Phoebe first meets him and sets up a date, she says to Monica "I can't wait to get sous-neath him". So you have to say the line whenever you think about sous chefs.

So red velvet it was, because it's fast and easy and hard to mess up. But I didn't exactly have enough red food coloring (had to raid my aunt's pantry for supplies and wasn't clear that I needed like a gallong of the stuff). So instead of the usual deep red color, they ended up more pinkish in the bowl. So red-ish velvet they are. And just for the record, my sous chef frosted most of them. :) I take no responsibility.

 Everybody ate 'em, my Dad had three and Mom took home a dozen so I suppose they were fine. Though one sad soul tried her darndest but never got even a crumb:

That's Mia, the most pathetic dog in the world.
So by the end of the evening we had a bunch of these:
But someone found a way to take care of the leftover frosting.
So Happy Birthday Nini!

Friday, August 6, 2010

A Coconut Flavored Disaster

Sigh........... People, this is what happens when you don't: #1-Have the right pans, #2-Line the pans you do have properly, #3-take the cakes out of the pans before they cool, #4-reheat the pans when you warm them up the morning after you bake them but don't get them out while the pan is still warm, #5-Have time to rebake cakes that have fallen appart when you took them out of said cooled pans, #6-make enough frosting to spackle the broken cakes together, then nice thick layers of frosting between the broken layers to support them, #7-use Crisco in your frosting to give it some structure instead of the butter just melting and taking the cake down, #8-get much effectiveness when you try to stick straws into the cake to hold it upright when the right side of the cake decides to declare civil war on the left side and seced from the nation and when you DO #9-feel so sad for the cake and the giant fissure opening up in the top that you just cover the whole damn thing with coconut and hope no one notices.

The sad, saggy cake:
What is apparently the cake equivalent of the Mason-Dixon line:
On the right side: the rebels. (Yes I'm from Texas where rebel flags aren't exactly uncommon). On the left: the rest of the nation. And smeared all over it: the valient coconut buttercream trying desperately to hold this little nation together.

It took a trip to the fridge and some squeezing and cussing on my part, but though the rift remained, it never was able to fully break the cake apart. War averted. And it sure tasted pretty good too! Even my "I don't like coconut" hubbin ate a slice or two. I'll try this recipe out again soon. And I will avoid the cake sins I commited on this poor little fellow.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

An Oldie

So I totally forgot about this cake but by chance (and a dead battery on my part) I found these pictures on the hubbin's cell phone! Probably a good thing too, since this was was a pain (literally and figuratively) and worth posting.

I posted pictures of a bunch of royal icing flowers a while back. This is the cake that they were used on.

Don't remember the cake flavor, but the frosting is good ol' Wilton's buttercream. It was looking pretty jagged that day, overworked it trying to make it in a hurry. The basket weave is suprisingly easy to do, but it takes days to do. The course kit came with two little oval pans so that we would have something small enough to do it our two hour class. Still, a cool trick you see a lot. And like I said in the previous post, I love these flowers.
This little birds are made from color flow icing. I'm not really sure what's in it, probably a lot of sugar, but it dries really hard but fairly brittle.
Front of cake from eye level:
Top of the cake (with bright reflection off of the foil).