Friday, June 20, 2008

The Garden Cake

Here’s a little update on the subscription to my blog situation: as I mentioned earlier, Blogarithm sold out to another company, I believe called RssFwd. As of May 20, 2008, all email notifications from Blogarithm will have stopped. You may or may not have begun receiving notices from RssFwd. But, if you’re anything like me, you probably didn’t realize that’s what you are receiving. I finally figured it out when I received several messages in my Spam email box entitled “RssFwd Daily Digest”. I didn’t pay attention to it at first, not really aware that it was something that shouldn’t be in my Spam box. But after several days of receiving these messages, I decided I should actually open one and read it. Lo and behold, it was an update on the blog I subscribe to. Gee, would have been nice to have some sort of warning about that. So me being the irritable picky type that I am, I decided I didn’t like the service that RssFwd HASN’T given. So I unsubscribed from them, and did a new subscription through Feedburner. I also followed my fellow blogger’s lead and added Feedburner as the servicer for subscriptions to my blog. (Don’t worry, if you are subscribed through Blogarithm, a.k.a. RssFwd, you should still receive email notifications, and now you know where to find them!) I have not, however, been impressed with Feedburner either, since the one blog I have subscribed to has been updated several times in the last three days, and I have yet to receive an email message from Feedburner. I’m also not impressed with their tracking capabilities on my blog, but I won’t go too into that. So, since I am being too lazy have no time to search out a new servicer that will meet my high maintenance minimal needs, for the time being I will leave Feedburner on my blog as a servicer for subscriptions, and will look into adding RssFwd soon as well. That way, all of you will have a choice as to who you go with, should you choose to continue/add your subscriptions to my blog. Although, knowing my track record with posting recently, I wouldn’t blame you if you had baled!

Ok, enough with the boring stuff. On to something interesting. I finished a cake last weekend for my sister-in-law’s birthday. Actually, I think it was supposed to be a birthday/Father’s Day cake, since we celebrated both at the same time, but I really think the cake ended up being more for her birthday. I’m calling it The Garden Cake, and, hold on to your shorts, I’m actually pretty pleased with the final result. Please don’t misread that. I’m pleased, not satisfied. I still can see many things I would have done differently, and can still see the mistakes, but overall I think this cake is edging on the best I’ve done. Or, maybe a better way to put it, this cake turned out to be closer to the image I had in my head than any other I’ve done. That’s probably more accurate. And, the good news, I shed not one tear over this cake. Here are some pics:

Sorry so many, but I wanted to get all angles since each corner figure was different. Before I get too into the description, here, I should say thank you to my sister, who is the one that put the idea of a garden cake, and of using Color Flow, into my head. Thanks! *muwah!*

The cake was a White Almond Sour Cream cake (thank you to A Garden of Cakes for directing me to this recipe on – also one of my favorite sites.) It was filled with a raspberry filling, a recipe I also obtained from Cakecentral, which was FABULOUS because it did not bleed into the cake even without thin layers of buttercream frosting separating it from the cake. Both recipes were experiments, and while I was very pleased with the filling, the cake seemed to turn out as a very heavy, dense cake. The taste was very good, and so I plan on trying it again just to make sure that that’s really how it was supposed to have turned out. If so, it’s not a recipe I would recommend if you’re doing a stacked cake higher than two layers, or probably larger than what I did, as its own weight may actually end up destroying the cake.

The bottom of this cake is an 8 inch square, and the top a 6 inch round. It is covered with fondant, and the grass is raspberry buttercream, which I made with raspberry extract. A little expensive, but a better flavor than ordinary buttercream, I thought. The flowers are all fondant, cut with cookie/fondant cutters. I used Food Writers to add details to the flowers around the outside of the top layer. The bugs/animals figures, as well as the picket fence, were made with Color Flow icing, which is really just royal icing with Color Flow mix added in to make it dry harder. This is only my second cake that has included Color Flow pieces, the first of which was done for class. I had forgotten how time consuming, i.e. frustrating, it could be, but I learned a lot for “next time”.

I would also point out that there are several of the pictures in which the picket fence looks like it is falling off of the cake. That was not the case, it was just simply the angle the pictures were taken from, and the uneven contours of the fondant covering the cake. The bird, butterfly and dragonfly were on thin floral wire (I can’t remember the gauge) “glued” on there with melted candy, allowed to harden in the fridge. My sil and everyone at the party was impressed with the cake, and my…step-nieces(?) asked if we actually had to cut it. I told them for all the work I had to put into it, HELL YES they had to cut it!! And so, once again keeping with tradition, here are the things The Garden Cake taught me:

1. Color Flow outlines are extremely time-consuming. Prepare yourself for several very late nights in row when working with this stuff.

2. Pre-made parchment triangles are a very good investment, if not a necessity.

3. When the directions say to fill the parchment bag no more than half full, they really mean NO MORE THAN half full.

4. Over-filled parchment bags will result in Color Flow-covered hands, and a trail of Color Flow drips from the kitchen to the work area.

5. When the directions say to allow a minimum of 48 hours drying time for Color Flow pieces, it really means a MINIMUM of 48 hours.

5a. Color Flow that has not dried for 48 hours breaks instantly and irreparably upon any attempt to remove it from the waxed paper, with no hope of “gluing” the pieces back together.

6. Melted candy works well for “gluing” clean Color Flow breaks back together.

7. Melted candy, after having hardened again, does not stay hardened in direct sunlight. Re-hardening may be necessary.

8. Fondant, on a cake, and stored in a refrigerator over night, will “sweat” upon being removed from the refrigerator.

8a. Food Writers do not write on “sweating” fondant. They do, however, write extremely well on hardened Color Flow pieces.

9. When “gluing” Color Flow pieces to a fondant-covered cake, it is best to use royal icing, as buttercream dries out and pieces begin to fall off of the cake.

10. When Color Flow pieces hit the ground, they shatter. Instantly. Into millions of tiny shards.