Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Lamp and a basket of Diapers

So, I managed to get the lamp done (good thing - shower is tomorrow!). 

I started the day by stacking and filling the cakes that were going to make up the lamp base.  I used the corer tool from the Tall Tier Stand to cut holes in the centers of the the cake layers.  I, somehow, was an idiot and didn't cut them all the same (no idea how that happened!)....but, managed to get them stack and iced and you really can't tell, lol.  After leveling, torting and cutting last night, I had twelve 1" cake layers that were approx 6"x6".  I decided to use three cake layers and two layers of filling per small cake.  I then decided to use three of the small cakes to comprise the lamp base. 

I also decided, for support purposes, to put a cardboard between each of the small cakes, with bubble tea straws as support underneath the cardboard.  I covered the cardboard with Glad Press N Seal (love that stuff!!!) and cut out the hole in the center.   Here's a tip....when pre-cutting cardboard for your cakes, don't assume a 6" square cake is actually going to be 6"square (who'd a thunk it!).  Turns out the cake is more like 5.5" square, and you now have to trim the cardboard.

Here is the cake mid-stacking:

and here is the lamp base all stacked and crumb coated:

Turns out I did not need to make nearly the amount of filling that I did....I have at least half of it leftover!  I bagged it up and stuck it in the freezer - no way I'm throwing that stuff out!

While I waited for the crumb coat to crust on the lamp base, I pulled out the lamp shade.  I had hoped that I would be able to sand it and cover it in fondant.  I did sand it, and even made a template of the lamp shade, with wax paper.  I kneaded and rolled out the fondant, and then attempted to attach the fondant to the lamp shade.  SOMEHOW the fondant was too small!  I couldn't figure out how since I followed  the template I made.  Anyway, by then, I was in no mood to re-knead and re-roll the fondant.  Plus, the fondant was ripping when I tried to put it on the shade.  I was able to smooth a piece of fondant into  the top of the lamp shade to cover the RI in there.

Now, I had a the heck to cover the shade, because quite frankly, it looked like crap, lol.  I reached for the left over Royal Icing and attempted to apply and smooth it onto the lamp shade.  In retro-spect, I should have thinned the RI down a little bit, but oh well, what's done is done.  I smoothed it onto the lamp shade with my icing spatula, and since I needed it to dry quickly, I set it into the oven (gas oven, pilot on). 

I ended up doing a second cake to ensure there were enough servings.  See....I am usually asked to cut the cakes that I make, and *I* know how to cut the lamp base to produce 40-45 servings.........however, if someone else cuts it, there may not be!  Since I had one of the smaller cakes leftover, I decided to decorate it to bring to the shower also.  I spent a bit of time contemplating what I should make it look like (I hate boring, lol).  I finally decided to decorate it to look like a basket with diapers in it.  It was pretty simple.  I had already crumb coated and iced the cake.  I took a large round tip and piped lines on the top of the cake to simulate the folded diapers, then used buttercream to pipe a basketweave on the sides of the cake.  I finished it off with a straight star-tip board and corners, and a zigzag on top.

By now, the lamp base had crusted.  My intention had been to cover with fondant, however, given the issues with the lamp shade, I opted to ice in buttercream.  I slathered icing all over the lamp base, then smoothed it out and even got some nice looking corners!  I got it all iced, and needed to put the design on the front of it.  My original idea was to hand paint it on, but that's kind of tough on buttercream.  So, I took a toothpick, and hand drew the design on the side of the lamp base, using a picture I took as a guide.  I then took some dark brown and piped all the outlines.  Then took some lighter brown to fill in some of the areas of the design.

Then I put the 'top' on the lamp base.

By now, the shade was dry in the oven, so I took it out and attempted to sand the royal icing.  It was a no-go this time....but, I had an idea and tried it to see what would happen.  I sprtized the lampshade with water, and then used the sanding sponge to wetsand the lamp shade.  It actually worked!!!.  I decided to finish off the lamp shade with some brown zigzags around the top and bottom bands, and also on the top of the lamp.  I also decided to pipe some curly-q's on the lamp shade.  I wasn't in the mood to do the diagonal lines on it.

No picture yet of them stacked up, that's for tomorrow at the shower.  However, I had some fun with the camera and ended up with this cool shot!


No, not real ones you'd find on an actual lamp.  I'm talking cake-ish ones, lol.  I am making a baby shower cake for this weekend (Sunday), and I am attempting to make the cake look like the lamp that the mom-to-be has picked out for the nursery. 

Today I had planned to start and finish the lamp shade for the lamp.  That didn't quite happen, but I did get a lot done today.

My initial thought for the lamp shade was the Wonder Mold pan.  I decided that a dummy cake would be the best way to go with the lamp shade, plus there will be plenty of cake in the base of the lamp.  I looked at the Wonder Mold Pan for a while trying to envision a lamp shade.  I realized that if I screwed the stand onto the pan and turned it upside down, it kind of looked like a lamp shade, I just had to find a way to fill in the empty space.  Using just icing seemed silly, and unnecessarily heavy.  I came up with using Rice Krispie Treats to fill in the bulk of the empty space. 

So, I started my day with making Rice Krispie Treats......without the butter so the RKT's would dry harder than normal RKT's do.  Ever try to melt marshmallows in a big pan on the stove without butter???  Let's just say it's a good thing no one is eating these RKT's.  First the marshmallows started toasting (which was actually kinda cool, lol), but then they started burning (not so cool!).  So, I added a small pat of butter to the pan, and it helped a little.  Finally got the marshmallows melted, and poured in the Rice Krispie's.  Took it all off the stove and attempted to stir it together.  I actually BROKE a wooden spoon!!!  I was stirring and it just snapped in my hand!  I was shocked and flabbergasted!!  So, I ended up scraping the RKT's off the spoon with a knife, and used a metal pie server to stir.  Turned them out onto a sheet of parchment paper and, using a second piece, flattened them out the best I could so they would cool.

Sorry, no pictures of the RKT saga.....things were just happening too fast for me to think of it!

Once the RKT's were coolish, I took the Wonder Mold Pan and started filling in the empty space (on the outside of the pan) with RKT's.  Thankfully, they stuck to the pan, cause if not I didn't really have a solution, lol.  I filled in most of the space and figured I could do the rest with Royal Icing.

So, I made two batches of Royal Icing to make sure I had enough.  I used my icing spatula to apply the Royal Icing to the outside of the pan.  Once applied, I used an 18" long, plastic ruler to smooth the icing, using the top and bottom of the pan as a guide.  It worked fabulous!!!  My Royal Icing started to dry and set up while I was trying to put finishing touches on, but it's ok.  I was hoping I would not have to cover it with fondant, but I will have too, lol.  I also filled in the top of the pan and tried to make it concave shaped.  Not 100% sure how I'm going to apply the fondant, but we'll figure that out tomorrow.

While I was working on the lamp shade, I had the cake baking in the oven for tomorrow.  I decided to make the base of the lamp out of 6" square cakes.  Now....there's no way I was buying a 6" square pan (even IF you can find them), so I decided I could bake a half sheet (12x18) and get 6 cakes out of it.  I thought of this a few days ago - good thing because I realized my Wilton Half Sheet pan would not do.  Instead, I decided I needed a Magic Line half sheet pan.  Magic Line's sides on their square/rectangle pans are straight, not angled like Wilton's are.  I ended up using 4 cake mixes (doctored) in the Magic Line pan, rather than 3 like I used to use in the Wilton one.  It ended up taking just over an hour to bake, at 325.  I have noticed that it doesn't take all that much more time to bake at the lower temp (have even baked at 300 before), and you get a more consistently risen cake.

Once the cake came out of the oven, and had cooled off, I decided to go ahead and cut it into the sizes I needed.  I cut the cake into 6 smaller cakes, leveled it and torted it.  I had put the cake onto a large cutting board to do the cutting and leveling.  So, rather than try to wrap 6 different cakes, I wrapped the entire cake on the cutting board, so it will stay fresh until tomorrow.

Here is a picture of the lamp that I am trying to re-create for the shower. 

The base of the lamp has a wooden piece at the top and bottom that overhangs the base.  I decided to use contact-paper covered foam boards for these boards.  So, I purchased some wood grain contact paper, and foam board at the craft store.  I cut the foam boards slightly larger than the cakes will be, and covered the top and bottom with contact paper.

You will notice that the boards have a hole cut into them.  You might be wondering why.........for my support system!  A very dear friend of mine had the most awesomest idea of how to support the lamp.....use Wilton's Tall Tier Stand!!!  So, that's why there are holes cut into the boards, lol!   I will have to cut holes in the cakes also.  I was looking at the stand tonight (you can screw the spacers together without having to use the plates), and after trying the boards to make sure they fit, I realized it was not a good idea to stack the cake, and THEN try to put it on the spacers.  Assembling the cake on the spacers is a much better idea!  My plan is to use three 1" cake layers with two layer of filling between them, put bubble tea straws and cardboard for support, and then stack another set of cake and filling.  I haven't decided how many to use yet, we'll see big the cake starts getting, lol.  I am thinking I'll need three, the cake needs to feed 40ish people, and if I use three, then I can cut 16 slices from each "cake" and have enough cake for everyone. 

I had been wondering how I was going to suspend the lamp shade without it wobbling around, and I think I have figured it out!  I can put one of the smaller plates (that just fits inside the wonder mold pan) on one of the spacers, and it will stop the pan from wobbling.  We'll see how this works tomorrow!

I wasn't in the mood to try to cover the lampshade with fondant tonight, so I decided to put it off until tomorrow.  Instead, I made the frostings and filling for tomorrow.  I made a batch of stiff icing to use for my icing dam.  I made two batches of thin icing to use to frost the cake with.  Hopefully I can get it smooth enough that I don't have to use fondant, but we'll see.

I then made the filling for the cake.  Peanut butter buttercream with chopped up Reese's PB Cups and Hershey's chocolate bars.  Yes, it does taste as heavenly as it sounds!!!  I made three batches to ensure that I did not run out and have to make more, lol

Oh, and here are the cookies all bagged up, I did those before starting anything else this morning!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Cookies are done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I have been lazy the last few days, lol.

I was in a bit of a quandry the other day........the bears were dry, and it was time to put the eyes and nose/mouths on them.  I colored some of my icing black and loaded it into a piping bag fitted with a coupler and a 1.5 PME tip.  My plan was to pipe dots for the eyes, and pipe the nose/mouths to look like an actual teddy bear (think.....anchor shaped).  I did a few, and was not happy with them at all!  They were looking like utter crap!  Then I tried just a smile, but it didn't look like a teddy bear.

I was talking to Janet, and she suggested pacifiers for mouths!  So, I tried it to see how it would look.  I LOVED it!!!!  The mom-to-be does not like pink (and is having a girl, lol), so I promised her no pink on the favors or cake.  Her favorite color is aqua, so that's the color I used for the pacifiers.

I then wanted to add a little something more to the ducks........they just needed something!  I decided to pipe a small flower on the duck's head.  I realized the icing I had was way too soft to pipe a flower, or to hold up once it dried.  I was going to need some royal icing.  Now, the recipe for royal icing that I have makes 3 cups....I barely needed a half cup, lol.  So, I divided the recipe into 6ths.  This little bit of icing is not enough to mix in the Kitchen Aid. 

So, for the first time EVER I made Royal Icing by HAND (gasp!!)........and it honestly was not too bad!  It even came out looking right!

So, I fitted another piping bag with a coupler and a PME tip 1.  Now...PME tips that are this small (and smaller....they make a 00) can get clogged VERY easily!  The best thing to do is to strain the royal icing as you put it into the bag.  The way this is accomplished is running the icing through a clean knee-hi stocking.  Now...the first time I heard this, I imagined quite the mess it would make.  Then a few months ago, I saw it done (and even did it!) and it was awesome!  

You take a knee-hi and put it over a glass, pull it down over the glass until the end of the knee-hi is at the top of the glass.  Then you scoop the icing into the knee hi, and take it of the glass.  Then I GENTLY smoosh the icing into a small log shape and put the icing/stocking into the piping bag, with the end of stocking sticking out the end of the bag.  Then twist the top of the piping bag, hold on tight, and pull the stocking out with all your strength.  The icing will be forced through the stocking, straining it, and you will be left with lumpless icing!!!  I didn't believe it would work, but it totally does!

I used my new, lumpless icing, and piped small little five-petal flowers on the ducky's heads.  Once the petal were piped and somewhat dried, I used the leftover aqua icing from the pacifiers and piped the center of the flowers.  They looked really cute!!

Here are both the cookies that will be in each favor bag.  I think they look really cute, and the aqua on each one ties them together nicely.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Teddy Bears

So I figured out why I was having so much trouble piping the rest of the ducky's last night.  The icing was too thick.  I think I might have left out some of the liquid when making the icing!  It was just as hard to pipe them this morning as it was last night, so I emptied the bag I was using, and added some milk to the icing to thin it down, and put it back into a clean bag.  It was sooooooooooo much easier to pipe that way! 

Once I finished the initial flooding of the ducky's, I moved on to flooding the teddy bears.  I decided I wanted the bears to look like babies, so I used some white icing and piped diapers on them first. 

 Once the icing was set, I went ahead and flooded the body of the bears.

Then, while the bears body's set up, I went ahead and added eyes to the ducky's.  I was going to add some feathers, but I don't think it's necessary at the moment.  I am going to add a little piped flower to the ducky's head though, I think it's cute :) 

Once the teddy bears were set up, I piped eyes on all of them.  I attempted to pipe mouths (or more correctly, bear faces) on them, but it just wasn't coming out right.  I also tried just mouths, and didn't like that - it just didn't look like a bear face.

I wasn't sure what to do about it, so I stopped with trying to pipe the mouths and decided to think about it.  I thought about using edible markers, but can't find mine (figures!).  I decided to try hand painting them on tomorrow, so we'll see how that goes!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Rubber Duckyyyyyyyyyyyy, You're the Oneeeeeeeeeeee

Now that I have that song stuck in your head (LOL), these ducky's most certainly will not make bath time so much fun!

I started out my coloring the icing to flood the ducky's and teddy bears with.  I got as far as the yellow, brown and orange and ran out of white icing......... No problem....I decided to make more as I needed it.

I then noticed that the cookies needed some cleaning up before flooding them.  I used my fingernails to knock off the extra dough that was on the edges. 

They looked much better afterwards!

I had 55 ducky's to flood.  I got all the beaks done (orange) and all the ducky's outlined.  I felt it would be neater and cleaner to outline the cookie first, and then fill it in.  I got almost all of the ducky's done (approx 40) and ran out of yellow icing!  UGH!  So, in order to procrastinate before making more, I decided to clean off all the teddy bear cookies (hey, it had to be done sometime, right?).  I then mixed the leftover orange icing into the brown icing, and it actually improved it!  The brown now looks much more like 'teddy bear' than 'poo', lol.

So then I decided to take a break to give my wonderful black lab some much needed attention, and to have dinner.  After dinner, I made two more batches of icing, and colored some to match the yellow I was using before (not an easy feat....lemon yellow, egg yellow and orange).  I also added some more white to the brown, to increase the quantity, and it also helped the color some too.  This brown just keeps getting better and better!  If I didn't need the yellow for other stuff, I might mix the leftover of that in too, lol!

After coloring the additional icing, I sat down to pipe the last 15 ducky's........and managed to get 4 done before my hand wouldn't work anymore.  I don't know if the icing is thicker, or my hand just liked the break, but it refused to work anymore.  It physically hurt to squeeze the piping bag, it was not cool at all!

Here's what a sea of ducky cookies, half finished, look like!

So, I called it a night and decided to veg out with the tv and the computer!  Lucky for all of you, I also decided to type up a blog post :)  

Baby Shower Cookies

A friend's cousin is having a baby shower on the 16th of January, and I offered to make the shower cake, as well as cookies for favors.  I borrowed some cookie cutters from Janet (my cake partner in crime, lol) that were baby-related.  I brought home three cookie cutters: big teddy bear, small teddy bear and a ducky.  I decided to use the smaller bear and the ducky, and package two cookies together for each favor.  They are expecting about 44 people, so I ended up making 55 cookies of each shape.

The recipe I use for the sugar cookies can be found on Cake Central, the recipe is the No Fail Sugar Cookies.  They are awesome!  I decided to try something a little different this time, and substituted lemon extract for some of the vanilla extract.  Not enough to alter the taste of the cookie, but just enough to make people go 'hmmm, what's that taste, it's really good!' 

Ever wonder what 110 cookies look like????

I ended up using 1.5 batches of the cookie dough for the 110 cookies that I made.  After baking the cookies (which took all afternoon), I decided to go ahead and make the icing, so I can just start decorating them tomorrow.  Why so early, if the shower isn't until next weekend? takes anywhere from 24 to 48 hours for the icing to dry enough to bag them.  There are some designs I plan on piping over the initial flood of the cookies. 

The icing recipe is one that I found somewhere online, and have used before.  It can be found here.  It is different from regular royal icing, in that it still dries hard, but it dries shiny.  I, personally, think it tastes a heck of a lot better too!  I added some lemon extract to the icing to compliment the cookies.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Eve Appetizer!

Hello all my loyal fans!  This not a cake/baking post today.  It is a recipe for an appetizer I made for my friend Janet's NYE Party.

I took a pound of 85% lean ground beef and cooked it up in a frying pan with two teaspoons of taco seasoning and some onion powder.  Once that was done, I drained it in a colander to get some of the fat out of it and let it cool off.

Then I cooked a cup of frozen corn with a half cup of black beans (drained and rinsed) and two teaspoons of taco seasoning also.  I added a little bit of water to the pan, and cooked them for about 5 minutes or so.  Then I drained them and let them cool off.

Once both the meat and the vegetables were cooled off, I mixed them together in a bowl and added 8oz of finely shredded mexican blend cheese.

I then opened the package of wonton wrappers.

Placed one on the counter, and put a generous teaspoon of the filling in the center.

Painted the edges of the wrapper with water.

Folded it up like a triangle.

I then wet two of the points and folded them together.

They were quite a hit!  I made about 92 of them, and they flew off the platter almost as fast as we got them out of the oven!

There will be some cookie posts coming up in the next few weeks, as well as a baby shower cake, so stay tuned!