Thursday, November 17, 2011

50 and Fabulous Cake

I was just thinking this morning how slow I am this time of year and how much I enjoy the calm before the " Italian Cookie Tray " storm that takes over most of December.  I gave it a few moments and then on with my day.
Around 1:00 pm I receive a call from my neighbor, who manages to spot and report my run away dog Ruddy every time he has gotten out . I panic as usual and try to remember if I had opened the gate for anything and how could he have gotten out.
I answer the phone and immediately ask " Is Ruddy out?" she laughs and says "No, I'm not calling with bad news." Ok , great ! Then she asks," are you still doing cakes?" I tell her yes, I have done small birthday cakes for her before. Next question, "how much notice do you need?" Oh boy, now I'm getting nervous, so I ask, "when do you need it and how many servings?"." This Saturday and 80 servings."
At that point I kinda wish she was calling to tell me my dog had gotten out because running all over the neighborhood in 40 degree weather franticly searching for my dog had a bit more appeal than 80 servings by Saturday.
My reply went something like this...
" What is the event, what colors would you like , and any particular flavors ?"
Yup, I am one of those can't say "No" kinda people. Well, actually I can say "No" , "no problem, no worries, no bother" it's just plain "no" that I have trouble with.
So here I am , less than 48 hours to make this happen, taking inventory of what color fondant I have, and what I need to grab at the store, Cake Central photo in hand. I have to give credit to kristinescakesny for the design I am about to try to replicate. I decided I'd blog the making of this cake because I am going to use a few popular  techniques on it ~ Zebra print, and possibly zebra cake, we'll see how ambitious I am at 1am when I finally have time to make this cake. Did I mention I do this for fun and not for profit?

10:00 pm and all of the cakes are baked, and cake board is covered. Not sure if I mentioned this in another post but one of my major pet peeves is silver cake boards. Some love them, some don't care, and to some ( or maybe just me ) they are finger nails on the chalk board.

So, my bottom layer is going to be a 12 inch round, plain old white cake, my 2nd tier is going to be a 10 inch round zebra cake, and my top tier is going to be an 8 inch plain old white cake. All tiers are going to be filled with cookies and cream buttercream filling ( I have to take the easy way out when I'm pressed for time. )

While my bottom layer baked I whipped up all of my buttercream. The first batch I make into filling.
I used 1/2 a package of Oreo's.

Split the cookies and scrape out the filling. Filling goes into the garbage, cookies go into a ziploc bag.  
Once I have the cookies prepped, I use a meat mallet ( I think that's what they are called ) and smash the cookies in the ziploc into crumbs. You could use a food processor for the same results , but I keep mine in the pantry and I am too lazy to walk the 5 feet over to it and get it out, or clean it up when I'm done. Ziplocs are much more convenient.

Once you have the Oreo crumbs, dump them in a batch of icing , mix it all together and you are done.

Next it was time to try my hand at zebra cake. I found a tutorial on this a couple years ago but never had a chance to try it.  I'm doing this from memory so it may end up being anything but zebra, but I tried. 
I started with 1/3 cup white cake, and poured that in the center of my pan, followed by 1/3 of a cup chocolate cake on top of it, repeat, repeat, repeat, x's 50.

This is what I ended up with...

And this...

While I make cakes, Daddy is in charge of our 2 year old. 
Yes, he has a sticker stuck to his hair, is eating raisins straight from the container and has no pants on. Things that just don't seem to happen when Mom is in charge....

Back to my cake:

Now it's going to get fun. A couple weeks ago after going through fondant hell, I broke down and bought

I'm so excited to give this baby a try , it's the main reason why I decided to do this cake in fondant.  I watched the Youtube tutorial before trying it and found it very helpful.
I seasoned my mat with Crisco, put some fondant on it, and started rolling. Ahhhhh, yes, I made it to fondant heaven. If you don't have The Mat already, it's a fantastic tool at a very reasonable price.

Cake board is covered, I then wrap the edges with double sided tape and some black ribbon.

My work is done for the evening, tomorrow the magic will happen. I hope.
I also hope that cake looks like a zebra when they cut it.

Friday nights used to consist of napping , getting ready, and heading out for a night on the town. Now that I'm a Mom I don't think I have left the house after 10 pm in the last 3 years . Friday nights have become cake nights, they go until 4 in the morning sometimes too.

After filling, and crumb coating the cakes I was ready for the fondant. All the raving I have done about Fondarific please scratch from the record. I should have been able to knock this cake out in about 3 hrs, but thanks to uncooperative fondant ( or possibly user error ) it took 5 hrs.

The base is the zebra layer. I covered it in white fondant,  then rolled out a piece of black fondant and cut some strips to make the stripes.

Next I dampen the sides and top of the cake so the stripes will stick to it. I slowly pull the stripes off the paper so that the fondant will stretch and deform a bit to make a more realistic zebra stripe. I place these all over the cake, some starting at the top, some at the bottom, some just  floating.

Next tier is hot pink, by far the fastest and easiest of the night. I had some Satin Ice to use up and I have come to the conclusion I prefer it to all other fondant.

I had it rolled out, and on the cake in no time. I used my hands and then a piece of flattened fondant to smooth it out, then I trim off the " skirt" and stack it in the zebra tier ( which I placed 4 support dowels in before stacking. )

This tier gets a fondant ribbon, and a "50" medallion. I made the medallion yesterday using a fondant / gumpaste mix and my Tappit funky letters. So this should be easy right?  Wrong, took me 3 tries to get that darn ribbon on and even.
Brandon ended up having to help and couldn't believe how something so simple could be so difficult. I'm thinking of no longer offering a fondant ribbon it went so bad.

Last tier, black with dots, or something. Yet another bad experience with the Fondarific, not sure what the issue is but it didn't turn out good.
Finally got it smooth, and cut some dots with the round cutters and stuck them to the cake. I love dots because they can be placed strategically over any boo boo's. This cake had a few.

Last step, the border. I love my silicone bead mold, I want them in every size they offer. I press the fondant into the mold, pull it out and Exacto knife the edges off.

And the cake is done !

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Peace, Love , & Granola!

Today it's actually 60 degrees and sunny in Central New York. Usually we'd have snow on the ground by now, or it would at least be bitter cold. I'm not complaining and I wouldn't be too upset if we had a green Christmas either.
After being outside in the sunshine I came in to grab a snack and the cookie jar was empty. Two things in this house, the cookie jar must always have something in it, and so does the cake plate.
So, how about some sun-shiney granola bars? These are great for so many reasons,
#1 I make them without  corn syrup or anything artificial
#2 You can add anything you want to them and it only makes them more awesome.
#3 I can make them while my son naps without having to fire up the mixer or any other loud piece of kitchen equipment that would wake him.

Give 'em a try and let me know if you mixed anything into them. I'm always looking for ideas.

Save and print jpeg
Pour the cereal, oats , nuts, and raisins into a large mixing bowl and mix together.

Next, in a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat combine the honey and brown sugar. Stir constantly until it bubbles and froths. 

Reduce heat to low and mix in peanut butter until it melts and you have a nice creamy mixture. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Pour over cereal & oats mixture

With a spoon stir until the dry ingredients are coated with the honey mixture.

Very lightly grease the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan and pour the mixture in. Spread out evenly and with the back of a large metal spoon press to compact the mix. 
You should hear a lot of crunching. 
Allow to cool completely before cutting into whatever shapes you would like.