Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hope everyone’s Valentine’s Day is a very happy one! I love this holiday. I know there are some of you out there who think this is the worst holiday ever invented. Not me. I’ve always loved it, even when my husband wasn’t in the picture. I’ve loved it so long, I even remember the boy I liked in Kindergarten giving me the heart sticker from the middle of his paper plate BEFORE we had our Valentine’s treats, just so I could have it while it was still nice and hadn’t gotten all messed up from the frosting. Yep, I’m a sap. I know it.

But ANYWAY, that’s not really why I’m posting today. Maybe I’ll get all ooey gooey, lovey dovey about it tomorrow, after Sweetpea has brought all her Valentines home from daycare, and after I’ve given my hubby his gift. We’ll see how the rest of the day goes. Though I will show you the flowers I got from my husband. They arrived yesterday, and are perfectly gorgeous. Here’s a pic:
Ahh, roses, my fav. (Red is actually my very favorite, it’s the romantic in me, but I love all roses. My favorite Ansel Adams is called “Rose on Driftwood”.) I know the pic isn’t that great, but it was taken with my cell phone, as the flowers are at work and I did not think to grab my camera as I left in such a rush this morning. Why is it I’m always twice as busy on holidays?

So, onward. I have quite a few stories about stupid people I’ve encountered recently, and actually a really funny pic I took with my cell entitled “Idiots in SLC”, but I really am in too good a mood today to be irritated. So I will save those for another day. Instead, I think I’ll talk about the cake I finished last week. Here are a few pics of it (blurry, I know, I was shaking quite a bit by this point):

This party was a surprise party for a friend of a friend, so making the decisions on the cake style/flavor/decorations, and then making the arrangements to get it delivered/picked up, proved almost as difficult as making the cake itself! So here’s the rundown. It’s obviously a two-tiered cake. The bottom tier was made of chocolate cherry cake and filled with ganache. The top tier was white cake filled with cherry icing. The guy loved chocolate and cherries, what can I say? I hear it turned out pretty yummy, but sometimes I suspect people of lying to me just to spare my feelings. The entire cake was covered in fondant and the decorations were all also fondant, making everything on the cake edible. And a giant pain in the @#$. I ended up re-covering the bottom tier twice, and the top tier three times. I kept running into the problem that as soon as I started to smooth the fondant on, it would stretch and then tear. When I would try to fix the tears, either by smoothing or squeezing it back together, the icing underneath would squeeze through the cracks. I ended up using all the fondant I had in the house, except ½ of one box of white. That’s 5 ½ boxes of fondant. My husband also decided during this whole ordeal that I will not be doing cakes any more, since I have a tendency to cry when they don’t go right (i.e. every time I decorate one) and to stay up until all hours getting them done. (This one took me until 3:30 a.m. the morning it was to be picked up to complete.) I just nodded and said “yes dear”. :-)

Once I got past the covering/re-covering, most everything else went very smoothly. I only had to do each of the rest of the decorations once, and was totally 100% correct when I said a light box would be the ultimate tool for cutting out those skulls. Thanks to my sister, I didn’t have to spring for the $50 to buy one. Unfortunately the borders didn’t go as planned, and I had to go with Plan B, but I think they turned out ok. Despite a few cuts to the fingers. And no, once again I don’t like the cake. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I will never like any cake I ever do, and I should just accept that fact and get on with it. So, on that note, here’s my list of newly learned cake decorating tips:

1. Unless you’re using it for a very small amount of decorating, pre-colored fondant is not worth the cost of the ingredients it’s made of.

2. Pearl dust, on the other hand, is the most wonderful decorating accessory ever invented. So awesome! In addition, black cake sparkles do actually exist in real life, and are not just a figment of my twisted imagination.

3. I am in desperate need of an Exacto knife if I intend to continue to cut figures out of fondant.

4. The rolling fondant cutter available in craft stores does not do well around curves, but is fantastic for straight lines.

5. Nothing will go right with the decorating until you have just used the very last ingredient in your possession, with no hope of being able to buy more due to the lateness of the hour.

6. There are exactly two tablespoons in each small bottle of extract flavors. This is important to know BEFORE attempting to double a recipe that already calls for 1 ½ tablespoons of extract.

7. A normal, plain-jane cake leveler does not cut well through whole cherries, or through frozen cake. A Ginsu knife, on the other hand, does.

8. Ginsu knives are most definitely as sharp as they advertise.

8a. When in need, there will be no other band-aides in the house except Ratatouille Tattoo band-aides. (I think this may be one of Murphy's.)

8b. Ratatouille Tattoo band-aides are waterproof, and do work well in a pinch. They also draw quite a few compliments in Court.

9. A frozen 10-inch round, 2-inch thick cake takes approximately 6 hours to thaw completely, as does an 8-inch round, 3-inch thick cake. Removal from the freezer well ahead of time to begin assembling the layers is optimal.

10. I will never be a full time cake decorator. (Not new, just re-learned.)

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