Monday, November 21, 2011

Is that a chartreuse rose?

There is nothing wrong with a chartreuse rose. Who says you have to make lifelike fondant flowers in lifelike colors? Is there a rule book somewhere that I am not aware of? I will make lime green roses if I want to make lime green roses.

Maybe I am just a little extra feisty after the week that I have had. You know those food network competitions where they build the huge beautiful chocolate sculptures and the clock is ticking down and the chefs are going to put the final touches on and the thing crashes to the ground into a million little pieces in what seems like slow motion? I can officially say I know how that feels. A whole quarter of chocolate work and nothing to show for it. I didn't even get a picture before it was destroyed by a too warm chocolate kitchen. It capped off a already crummy week and drained my resolve to keep a happy face on and work through the all the crap.

I don't think I have ever been more ready for the holidays than this year. Between the stress of classes wrapping up for good, a possibly totaled car, being sick every other week, all I want to do is be home with my family and friends, not worrying about real life for a while. Soon, I will be sitting at the dinner table surrounded by all my favorite people, eating delicious turkey, brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes and cheesy corn, drinking some beaujolais nouveau, and just taking it all in.

There is just something about sharing a meal with the ones you love to set everything right, if even just for a little while. When I get back from home, its back into cake making and work mode full force until after new years. I am actually very happy that I have quite a few side projects lined up, even though I am incredibly busy. The cakes and desserts that I make for freelance projects are always the most fun, and the ones that I can pour my creativity into. No matter how many hours I put in, or long, late nights I stay up working on a cake, it's pretty much always worth it in the end.

To give someone a original, delicious, and gorgeous cake that you designed and created with your two hands is one amazing feeling. And that feeling can mean a lot when other things in your life aren't going so well.

I hope everyone reading has an absolutely wonderful thanksgiving and has some time to spend with the people in their lives who make them happy. Or at the very least I hope you get to eat a lot of mashed potatoes. 

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Autumn Cake

At one point this week, I had four fondant cakes of different shapes and sizes sitting in my kitchen. I can't bring myself to throw them away, but I don't know what to do with them. Maybe I will just let them petrify and make a cake shrine in our second bedroom. That probably won't happen, but it's an option. It's hard to dump something in the trash that you spent such a long time on, but nobody wants to eat two-week old cake (not that they will admit anyway). This cake luckily found a home this weekend for a friend's birthday and wasn't sacrificed to the garbage bin.

I am in my last quarter of pastry school, and one of my classes is a cake decorating class that focuses on fondant cakes. Unfortunately, I am not learning as much as I had hoped from this class, so I had to change my way of thinking about it. I now look forward to class as a chance to play and experiment for five hours a week with unlimited materials and lots of fun tools. This week our only restriction was an autumn themed cake, and since I love fall, I was really looking forward to it. I wanted to make a clean and classy fall cake, one that wasn't covered in pumpkins and marzipan fruit, perhaps something that could even be used as a wedding cake. We got to play with the airbrush machine to make more realistic leaves (Santa, if you are listening, Bria has been a very good girl this year and would like an airbrush machine for Christmas).

One great tip I did pick up this week was that I should start hoarding my egg cartons and always be on the lookout for other containers that can be reused to hold gum paste flowers and figures. Drying petals or leaves in a round cup gives them more dimension and movement than if you were to let them dry flat. You can purchase little round cups made specifically for this purpose, but why spend the money when there are things already in your house that work just as well? I happen to shop as Costco, and when honeycrisp apples came out this year, I bought a huge container of them. As I was reaching for the last one this week, I realized that the plastic clam shell they came in was perfect for flower shaping.

A drawback of using bowls that I had around the apartment to hold flower layers was that most of them had a flat bottom, but these apple cups are perfectly spherical. I cannot wait to test them out. Next time you are at the grocery store, check out the produce section, there are all kinds of egg carton-like packaging in different shapes and sizes that may be very useful in your cake creating endeavors.

Hope you enjoyed your extra hour of sleep/play/work this weekend. Happy fall!

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