Archive for the ‘Cake Decorating’ Category

Tower of cake


The folks at work were kind of enough to let me make cake for my sister’s birthday and use all the facilities. The trouble was that when you make devil’s food cake batter in a Hobart the size of a small ship, the batter doesn’t all get mixed properly; big chunks of flour and or butter might get stuck on the bottom, and you can’t scrape it up with any normally-sized kitchen tool, like a bowl scraper or a handy rubber spatula. I tried, and my hands inevitably were covered in chocolate goo, which I had to keep wiping clean in between plating tickets to destroy the evidence of chocolate fingerprints on gleaming white plates.

Back to the cake: I had a batter full of chocolate reacting with baking soda and powder that didn’t completely get mixed, which resulted in a VERY thick sheet of cake. It was chocolatey, but not equally rich; I’m guessing this was because the batter wasn’t as homogeneous as I would’ve liked it to be. Because I really wanted to make a three layer cake—let’s not be wusses now—and with each layer being two inches tall, the resulting cake was quite big, so towering and crumbly that my bratty four-year-old second cousin refused to eat it. And cried. He cried! I don’t know anyone who, when offered a piece of chocolate cake, cries. I know it’s unfair to try to reason with a four-year-old who is pure id, but I was convinced he was the devil at that point. (The real devil, not the devil that provides sinfully delicious cakes, you know. )

Cake Canyon (Helloo hellooo helloooooo...! )

Cake Canyon (Hello hellooooo hellooooooooo...!)

Should’ve gone for two layers, sigh.

Last year for my sister’s birthday, I made a chocolate genoise, the most ornery of cakes, hoping I had learned something after graduating, but it turned out super dry. One year, I will get it right (sorry, sister!).


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Click here for a photo of a cake that’ll please the Pantone folk and probably took a LOT of work.

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In honor of Obama’s 100th day in office, here’s a photo (courtesy of Billy K.) of a very impromtu cake (lemon cake with walnut buttercream filling) I cobbled together on election day, 11.04.08, with blue jellybeans I bought from a Tasty D-Lite and some raspberry jam spiked with kirsch(mmm):

The big O

The big O

You’ll notice there’s a yellow border at the bottom, and that’s because this cake was in the freezer for months after the dreaded Wedding Cake Final at school. This was actually the second tier of the cake, here:

Santorini Cake

Santorini Cake

The theme was Greece, and this was what happened when your ambition was clearly greater than your ability. I was envisioning recreating the vertiginous nature of Santorini, and the steps down to the Bay of Ammoudi from Oia. Alas, I wasn’t quite the engineer I had hoped to be. I ended up taking it home, actually thinking I’d play with it and make it look better, but I just ended up doling out pieces of the bottom layer to strangers on the street and the shopkeep at the leather goods store next door, and stuck the second and the top layer—as though it were from my own wedding—in the freezer.

Months later, the second layer’s reincarnation proved useful, and it occurred to me that I cried twice over this cake: the first time after the chefs told us to stop working and I clearly couldn’t finish in time, which led to the release of all the frustrations that mounted over three days and my PMS got the best of me; and the second time, because Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida, etc., went to Obama, and I was elated and overjoyed at the prospect of not being mentally waterboarded any more.

And predictably, it tasted better the second time.

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