Monday, May 25, 2009

Pink is the New Orange

I have recently become obsessed with Cara Cara Navel Oranges. Though admittedly, I do have numerous obsessions when it comes to food. And though it may be strange for a single gal to hoard as many of these sweet fruits as I do, one must be prepared for emergencies.

Sadly, I no longer see them at the grocery. But I enjoyed their sweet, pink-hued flesh as long as I could.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

How to Make a Mountain Cake, Part IV: My Co-workers Are Lucky and Other Final Thoughts


Cake was devoured. I won the contest. Huzzah.

Despite all the fondant issues, I would still like to try working with it. But next time, I'll practice more before attempting such a project.

How to Make a Mountain Cake, Part III: Decorate!

L to R: Mountain Sheep/Goat ~ Employee; Atop Mountain

The little goat was made earlier in the week. Dyed some fondant (I think gum paste or marzipan would be more traditional) and had fun with it - just like Play-doh!

But... Nightmare! The day before Party-Day, I rolled out the fondant to cover the cake.
Well, first I had to dye the fondant brown. Since dying the small amount I used for the goat left my fingers black for days, I decided to dye it in the mixer. But the fondant had stiffened up a little more on me, so I added corn syrup to compensate/add moisture. While it started to color, I'd need a lot more to get a dark brown. The fondant was still kind of stiff in the mixer and I had fears of making the fondant to wet/gummy with the corn syrup and overheating my mixer. I finally got it all dyed and was ready to roll.

It rolled out smoothly, but I couldn't seem to pick it up in one piece. It would always tear or stick to the board in the middle. Even with my liberal sprinkling of cornstarch, it seemed that the now moist fondant absorbed the cornstarch too quickly on the underside. So, by the time I was ready to lift, it would stick to the board.

I then tried to piece it onto the cake. It went on, but looked too piece-y. Then I was afraid it may not hold up through out the day. I gave in, tore off the fondant, and prayed I had enough buttercream to cover the cake. I did... just.

How to Make a Mountain Cake, Part II: Fill, Crumb Coat, and Sculpt

Chocolate Butter Cake, Cookies and Cream Filling, Vanilla Buttercream

How to Make a Mountain Cake, Part I: Fondant (from scratch!)

In my first attempt at working with fondant, I decide to make it from scratch! Why bother? The Mountain Cake, of course! Every year at work, we have a major Deadline-Completion Party this time of year. On the agenda? A cake contest dealing with this year's theme (something about climbing a mountain... yeah, I know)! Well, duh, of course I had to enter. So along with two birthdays to bake for, there are baking projects abound these two weeks. Not to mention all the last-minute things that popped up with work, trying to shop for/buy a major appliance, and trying to work overtime at work on top of all that (who knew I'd turn into a work-a-holic)! I have everything planned out, to the minute, every tiny detail. But then my procrastinating ways take over, and now I'm behind schedule.

Anyway, back to the fondant. Part of the reason I decided to make fondant was cost. I figured I needed 5 -10 pounds of fondant, and at $30 for a 5-lb bucket, I decided to make my own. Final cost? $5 for 10-lbs. The only kicker, is having to actually make the fondant.

The recipe was easy enough. Or should I say "seemed" easy enough. Having never worked with fondant before (brilliant move), I had issues gauging the texture. I knew it had to be pliable enough to roll out smoothly, but my first batch came out stiffer than I'd thought. For the second batch, I added less 10x sugar in the mixer stage. This seemed to come out better, but as I was kneading the rest of the 10x into the mix, I feared it becoming too stiff again. The recipe called for kneading in the full amount of 10x, but as I made the remaining batches, I kneaded in enough to keep the texture at what I thought it should be. I bundled up the batches of fondant, and hoped and prayed it would turn out by the time I needed to work with it.

And so ends Part I of my little escapade.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

These Might Just Be Cupcake Perfection

Vanilla/Vanilla, Meyer Lemon Curd, Raspberry