Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Wedding Cake Experiments - 3

It’s Tuesday, and I’ve finally made the blog and posted my previous entries. I tend to write all of my posts in Word before posting so I can have the posts autosaved to my computer.

Where were we? …. That’s right ok just after tip 2, you think well of course you should use a clean toothpick to test the cake! I don’t mean to say you’d ever use a dirty toothpick. By dirty I mean if you just checked the cake 5 minutes ago with a toothpick and then saved it for next time you check, generally the toothpick is still moist and will catch more crumbs because of it and you will leave the cake in too long because of the test. I use a new plain wood toothpick each time I test a cake.

Finally the cake seems done and its time to take it out of the oven. I always bake cakes on the center rack of my oven; it seems to have the most even heat there. Well this time I left the second rack in the oven a few levels above the center. Mistake 2: If you have no idea how high the cake will rise, it’s probably best to make sure there is no rack above your baking rack. In an attempt to remove the pan my red velvet has risen enough so that if I do remove it the edge of the rack will scrape it as I do. With some oven gloves I hold the top rack up as I pull the cake out with the other hand; whew that was a tight fit! Time to move that rack to the bottom notch.

Pro Tip 3: Leave the cake to cool in the pan at least 10 minutes. As it cools the cake will shrink a bit and set. If you remove it from the pan too soon you could squish it, or the center may fall out as you turn the pan over, most of all you could burn yourself.

If you used the full side collar for the pan all you need to do it turn the pan over and give the parchment paper a little tug. (if not you’ll need to use a knife around the side of the pan first)

Removal: I always try to use my right hand to catch the cake and my left to tilt the pan, this way I can cup my had around the top minimizing the amount of pressure I put on the cake and then turn it right side up on a wire rack to cool. You can remove the parchment paper as soon as it’s out of the pan or after it finishes cooling, it’s really up to you. As for me, it depends on my mood.

This cake smells delicious! (And the batter tasted good too) So now I have high expectations when its time to taste test.

I set the cake aside to cool and continue mixing the next batch of batter from scratch. Discovery 1: It turns out the box cake mix only mixes to about 4 and ¾ cups of batter. If I want to make a 10” second tier I will need 10 cups.

Obstacle 2: At this point I only have 6 eggs left and I need 7. Yikes! This could get complicated to recalculate everything so late at night. Solution 2: Most recipe websites now will auto calculate your ingredients based upon serving size, use this feature to reduce everything until the list of ingredients says what you need it to. Otherwise there is a useful ipad app called Paprika that I love! It can also recalculate ingredients etc.

I’m hopeful however that this recipe will make enough batter for my 10 cup tier. After all, the picture that accompanies the recipe shows a large wedding cake! After everything is recalculated it all becomes simple.

Pro Tip 4: Measure out all of your ingredients before mixing. This will let you know up front if you have everything you need. Even if you know you have enough eggs it’s a good idea to crack them into bowls first because you never know what will happen. For example, I did have enough eggs when I started measuring, but I cracked one of the eggs open and it had some blood in it so I decided not to use it.

Pro Tip 5: This reminds me, if you are using whole eggs in the recipe, use two bowls when you are cracking them open. Keep the egg over bowl 1 when you crack it and dump it in and throw away the shell then if all looks good transfer it to bowl 2. This will save you lots of eggs just in case something crazy does happen. Use this same concept for separating egg whites from their yolks except with 3 bowls.

Pro Tip 6: Use your (clean) hands to separate yolks from their whites. You have 3 bowls in front of you Left Center and Right. Over the center bowl, crack the egg with your right hand and pour it into your Left hand. With a little finger movement allow the whites to slip thorough your fingers and keep the yolk intact. When separated put the yolk in the right bowl and the white in the left bowl. Repeat.

Pro Tip 7: If you know you will be using a lot of whites in the cake and the icing and have no purpose for the yolks (ahem! Ice cream), buy a quart of whites from somewhere like publix and save yourself some time and effort in the separation step and in the clean up after you manage to get egg all over the counter top.

Pro Tip 8: If your recipe says everything needs to be room temperature, it really does need to be. If something is too hot and you add it to your egg mixture you will end up with scrambled eggs, if it is too cold you will end up with something with cottage cheese texture that you need to whip excessively to smooth out and you loose all the air in the cake making it too dense.

Pro Tip 9: If you forgot to sit the butter out and get it to room temperature, do not stick it in the microwave. Instead use a stand mixer and a paddle attachment and beat the butter until it is the right temperature!

Wow ok that was a lot of tips. I’m all out of time to write for the moment but I will continue soon. Until next time :-)

The Wedding Cake Experiments - 2

It is Monday, the day after the first complete cake.

Wow what a weekend. I thought I would have time in between things to take pictures of steps and write about the trials and tribulations, but it wasn’t so, simply because of the amount of dishes to be cleaned to keep the kitchen reasonably accessible.

After lots of thought and reading, plus several youtube videos and Cake Boss, a trip to the store was in order.

First, after a visit to Michaels Craft Store and D&G Occasions I have purchased a number of things:
·        3 tier pan set, 14”-10”-6” at a depth of 3”. These were the largest sizes available at the time and I decided I could always cut them into different shaped if I wanted. Turns out if you go on a sale day the cake decorating isle can be cleared out pretty quickly of thing you are looking for.
·        Fondant – black, 5lbs
·        Red Velvet Cake mix, by Duff
·        Pattern Presses
·        Icing Scraper
·        Petal Dust, 4 colors
·        Fondant mat
·        Fondant smoother
·        Etc

The Plan:

Friday Night: Work on baking the actual cakes, cool trim and store in refrigerator
Saturday: Dirty ice the cakes with a thin layer, aka crumb coat the cakes and mix butter cream and royal icing
Sunday: Assemble and decorate the cakes. Have a little family party and fill out survey sheets.

What Actually Happened?

Friday Night: Tired and hungry, I decided to go to D&G Occasions right after work since I didn’t have everything I need to start the cakes and they were only open till 7. Motivated and even more tired, it is very late and time to bake. It turns out I still didn’t have everything I needed to start the particular recipes I wanted to make so we picked new flavors to try that I had the ingredients for.

Duff Red Velvet Cake for the top tier and White/Vanilla Cake for the bottom tier from scratch. Just before mixing the red velvet I discovered obstacle 1: a 3” deep pan of a strange size has particular capacity, temperature, and bake time requirements that cannot be found in any of the batter recipes that I have. *sigh*. Alright time for research.

Solution 1: A chart on a website pointed me in the right direction! (will edit this post later once I find the site again)

The duff box cake was wonderfully easy to mix but I’m wondering how good it’s going to taste.  Pro Tip 1: Before getting too far I read that you should grease and line the pan on the bottom and sides with a collar of parchment paper that extends an inch from the top of the pan. Done. Measure and pour 3 cups of batter into the pan and let’s get it in the oven. And boy was that tip a good one, the cake started rising much higher than the pan and ended up needing that collar.

Mistake 1: I used the temperature from the box and the cook time from the website with the chart and when my timer went off the cake wasn’t done…. Oops I look at the website more closely and the temperature was listed differently. So I increase the temp and start checking every 5 minutes for doneness. Pro Tip 2: Use a clean toothpick inserted in the center of the cake to see if it is done. Also try tapping the top of the cake and see if it bounces back. Another way is to tap the side of the pan and see how jiggly the cake is.

Time to write is up for today, I will continue next time.

The Wedding Cake Experiments - 1

I so love to bake! Those of you who know me have seen some results of my “exotic” cooking. Personally I don’t think I’ve yet been that exotic in the dessert world with things like:
Ø      Flourless Chocolate Cake
Ø      3day chocolate cake
Ø      cookies
Ø      cupcakes
Ø      Croquembouche
Ø      Souffle
Ø      Pies
Ø      Etc

But now I’m going to take a leap into the deep end and see what a Signal Processing Engineer can do in the Wedding and Specialty cake world.

This weekend marks the beginning of my endeavor to learn techniques and find the best cake for my wedding. I’m currently hopeful that I will be able to do this, but we shall see.

Wish me luck and I’ll be making my next entry soon on baking the actual cake before moving on to filling, icing and decorating. There are so many I want to try and so many designs I might need to have cake parties with polls on look, taste, etc. Let me know if you are interested in attending one!