Monday, November 28, 2011

Dummy cakes and ruffly ruffles (say that 5 times fast)


So now that wedding season is over and things in my kitchen have slowed down a bit-I have time for experimenting.......But I really do not need to have cakes lying around here that do not have a home to go to.  Cakes sitting around here tend to get eaten (by me).  Since I think that my elliptical is a form of torture and necessary evil and the thought of having to stay on it longer because of the piece of cake (okay, 2 or 3 pieces) I just ate is just abhorrent, I bought a Dummy Cake.  What is a Dummy Cake you might ask?  Well, it's just an educationally challenged torte.  Just kidding- it is a cake of any shape made out of styrofoam for either practicing on or for using when you want a BIG LOOKING cake but don't want That Much to eat.  You add dummy cakes to the stacked cake and make them look edible.  
I bought them for practicing my piping skills.

I found a tip for making ruffles a while back and for my dummy cakes Maiden Voyage- tried it out. 

 I covered the dummy in plastic wrap and taped it to the turntable with my handy- dandy carpet tape.  Carpet tape is a must in the decorating industry.  Covering the dummy in plastic makes for easy clean up. Taping it down keeps it from flying off the turntable as it is really light weight!

I then frosted my "cake" with buttercream - not really worrying about smoothness since the ruffles will cover the base.
The long opening points Down.

Here is the tip.  Weird looking huh?  It is specialty tip# 070 -I bought it from Amazon

When making your horizontal ruffles, make sure to use a toothpick to mark even lines to follow when piping so that your ruffles do not look like this!  I figured this out with my last ruffle cake that had vertical ruffles but wanted to show you how bad it looked without lines to guide you. 

Lightly drag the tip along the line while squeezing with a moderate pressure to adhere the icing to the cake.  The long straight opening points down. It is quite easy to pipe with your right (or left-for you lefties out there) hand while slowly turning the turntable with the other. 

If you mess up, just gently scrape off the icing with a small spatula or butter knife and try again.

Here is the second tier of ruffles (looking much better) and you can see the line above ready for the next row.

Again, much straighter!

make sure to keep the tip touching the cake for the icing to stick-otherwise it will droop down over the ruffle below.

slowly turning.....

and turning.....let the pressure off of the bag to stop, while gently pulling the tip away from the side of the cake  and done!

For practicing purposes I did not go all around the cake but you would want to start and stop in the Back of the cake since where the ruffles meet it is not pretty.  Thanks to my husband for photographing me while I was piping! 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

my sugar cookie tips and tricks----flooding, overbaking and all.

So it is that time of year when my cake making slows down to a trickle-most weddings are over and done and the Holiday Season is upon us.  Folks are doing their own baking for their families and this gives me time to try new things.   I was asked to make some sugar cookies for an event and even though the order didn't come through I wanted to really get my sugar cookies with flooded icing perfected.  As my husband always says "third time's a charm"  and it was true for these!  I was Very Happy with the third attempt.  The first attempt was good but hubby thought I should have made them thicker.  Second attempt, was Too thick (this is very Goldilocks and the Three Bears sounding) and the Royal icing didn't quite work out.  The third attempt was the best.  Here it is-

Roll out your CHILLED dough on parchment paper and bake it on parchment paper.  The paper makes it really easy to "flip" the cut out shapes onto your hand and the onto the cookie sheet without distorting it. I keep the unused dough in the refrigerator until I need it to keep it from getting sticky.  And don't use too much flour or the dough will get tough and dry. Note the ruler in front, I use this to make sure that the dough is a uniform thickness.  I use a plastic one so I can pop it into the dishwasher when finished. My perfect thickness was 1/4 inch. 
Place the cookies about an inch apart on the cookie sheet- Bake at whatever time/temp.  your recipe requires.  I keep a close eye on the cookies at whatever the shortest time is.  You can use a spatula to gently lift up the edge of the cookie to check for a golden bottom.
The bottoms of these were golden brown with a touch of gold on the bottom edge.

If you use a dark finish cookie pan- the bottoms brown WAY too quickly!  I forgot and left these in the same time as my aluminum pans----oops! Here are my burnt bottoms.

Here's what they need to look like.....Firm, with a golden edge or bottom. Here are my perfect bottoms!
For chewier cookies let them cool on the pan for several minutes after baking before transferring to a cooling rack.

For crisp, crunchy cookies, let cool on the baking sheet for just one minute before transferring to a cooling rack.

After the cookies have cooled I piped a "dam" around the edge with royal icing with a size 3 tip.  Once it dried I flooded the inside with a runnier mix of the same.  Now- the first time I flooded a cookie I had the royal icing Way Too runny.  It flooded Over the dam and all over the counter.  
I added more powdered sugar until it was the consistency of sour cream---and that was Too thick.  
I then made the icing the consistency of yogurt.  That works.  The cookie in the back is sour cream thick and the one in front is yogurt.  Look closely- the one in front looks satiny smooth, the one in back looks, well, Not. 
My other great tip that if you mess one up (or two) - just eat it.  No one will ever know!


Sunday, November 13, 2011

ruffle cake

This is my second shot at a ruffle cake.  I saw this cake technique on Pinterest (my guilty, time-consuming addiction) and have been wanting to try it.  They are sooo pretty!  Last week I tried my first one and the ruffles came out cute but not all were totally vertical and the top wasn't as level looking as I wanted it to be-kinda looked droopy.  Droopy cake=Not Cute At All.  So this time out I lightly marked vertical lines in the frosting all around and used them as guidelines to keep my ruffles straight up and down.  I also came all the way up with the ruffle almost past the top of the cake so that the top ruffles would have something to "sit" on. Ta daaa! 
I like it.  I like it a lot.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lane's Pirate cake

I do love Pirates.  After teaching at Pittsburg Junior High for 11 years (mascot=Pirate) I have a definite warm fuzzy for all things Pirate.  So, of course, this was a fun cake to make.  This one has a buttercream finish with gumpaste and rice krispy treat hook, fondant details and edible images.
Things are slowing down here for me since wedding season is over which is kind of nice so that I can work on other projects (jewelry) and also work on other decorating techniques.  I spend WAY too much time on Pinterest pinning cake ideas and now I have the time to try them all out.  I would say that Pinterest is crack level addicting.  I try to stop, but I can't.  I need an intervention.