Thursday, August 19, 2010

Extra, Extra.....Read all about it!

I have applied to Culinary School!  It is blaringly obvious to me that this is God's plan.  I am taking the baking and pastry program at Le Cordon Bleu.  In a rather short amount of time I applied, got accepted and found financial aid!  Its kinda funny to see how quickly it has all happened.

I will be starting in late September and it will be an everyday thing.  I must say that I'm completely blown away at how wonderful the staff is at the school.  My advisor, Lori, has been there every step of the way.  She has always been motivating and encouraging!  Needless to say, I'm so excited!  I will be taking a weekend Chef's Series class in a few weeks on cake decorating.  I'm just anxious to get started!

I'm attaching a few pictures of me getting fitted for my chef's coat.  I can't wait!  I'll keep you updated!

Hooray for Sold Cakes!

Hello everyone out there in blogger world!  I hope that all is well with you!  It has been a really crazy time for me.  But I wanted to update you with some exciting news!  I SOLD TWO CAKES!!!

The first was a for a 14 year old girl's birthday party.  The mom was very open to anything I had in mind.  The only thing that she wanted was Hello Kitty.  I ended up making my signature chocolate cake with almond flavored buttercream icing.  (I quickly realized that when I sell cakes I don't get to sample them.  Which is sad, because I don't get to find out how everything tastes!)  I went a little crazy when it came to this cake.  I wanted it to be absolutely perfect.  It was my first sale and I was determined to make it outstanding.  I ended up with a cake that looked amazing and tasted delicious!  I took plenty of time making sure that the texture was just right.  And of course I added little elements like flowers along the bottom border of the cake.  All in all, I am quite proud of this cake.  It was well worth the time and effort.

The second cake that I made was for a friend at church.  He is a huge fan of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  So I was ready to make him a cake version of the candy.  Of course, I put a spin on my signature cake.  And it not only turned out beautiful...but within a few hours of delivery I had gotten a text from him saying that it was wonderful.  (Just the kind of thing that a baker loves to hear!)  My sister got to have the privilege of naming the cake.  The official name is Chocolate Bishop.  (My friend is a Bishop and there is plenty of chocolate in the cake.)

I didn't have an order for the last cake, but I figured I share it anyway.  It was my uncle's birthday and two of his favorite things are Corvettes and Carrot Cake.  It had to be the best so I got 2 bags of carrots and started shredding.  Three hours later, my fingers were orange and the carrots were done.  (Yeah, I need a food processor.)  The icing was incredible.  The only thing that I like as much as cake is cheese.  So combining them makes me really happy.  Decorating with cream cheese icing was a little difficult at first.  However, it ended up crusting over fairly well.  I tried edible spray paint for the car.  Halfway through the car spray painting process, my can stopped working.  Off I went to Michael's covered in icing and looking like a crazy person!  The whole cake ended up taking about 6 hours or so.  But it looked outstanding!

I have yet to find a carrot cake that I enjoy.  It always seems like there is something missing.  Either it is too dry or there isn't a nice spice flavor to it.  (Yes, I'm becoming quite a cake snob.)  All of this being said, I LOVED this cake.  It was the perfect combination of flavors.  And super moist!

That's all for now.  Thanks for reading!

Aack! It's been forever!

I'm terribly sorry for the insane delay of my postings.  For whatever reason, I just have been so busy.  (I suppose that I know why I've been busy.  It's called life!  Ha ha!)  I won't make this a super long post giving all of the crazy updates that I normally do with each and every cake.  I'll just see about giving a quick run through with a few pictures.

I officially had my first wedding cake.  It was a gift for my brother and his wife.  I was determined to make it perfect.  I didn't want any mistakes.  It officially was a week long process.  In the end, I added up all my time and it took 30 hours from start to finish.  This didn't include research or shopping time though.  I will post the individual pictures of the tiers, starting from the bottom going up.

So a little about the cakes....The bottom and top tier was a white cake, filled with chocolate ganache and iced with a chocolate hazelnut buttercream.  The middle tier was chocolate cake with the same filling and hazelnut buttercream.  The bow was made out of fondant and dusted with edible gold shimmer dust.  Needless to say, the cake was rather fragile.  And of course the party was on what was the hottest day of the year.  (So far that is!)  Thankfully, my sister let me have her car since she has an amazing air conditioner.  However, it didn't matter all that much.  Once we had traveled the 30 miles or so to the venue, the middle tier and the top tier had already started melting.  They were fantastic at the venue....they quickly put all of the tiers in the walk in.  I wish that I could have just fixed it/decorated in the walk in.  I didn't think to ask that at the time.  I was so freaked out that I couldn't even think!  I did the best I could to assemble it.  The entire back side of the middle tier had slid down the side of the cake and was sitting in the box.  Guests were showing up and watching.  I was devasted.  This was to be my 'coming of age' for cakes.  I must say that when I look back at the pictures, I'm embarrassed.  I feel like I should have been better prepared for the heat.  The cake melted and started to tilt.  I guess if I said it was a topsy turvy cake it would have gone over better.  Here are some of the pictures to prove why you should refridgerate/freeze your cake before transporting them for 30 in 100 degree heat!  My only redeeming grace was that it tasted AMAZING!


Enough of that!  Lesson learned.  I ended up making my last cake for the Wilton class that same weekend.  We of course didn't need more cake sitting around so I took it to work.  A couple of my coworkers had asked me to make them a cake for Pride weekend.  I must say that I was really, really impressed with the way the frosting turned out. 

Now for some sad news.  I lost one of my friends last month.  It was the husband of a long time family friend.  It saddens me that I dont have the right thing to say to Jamie.  My heart simply aches for her.  The only thing I could do was bake.  It was one of the most important cakes that I have ever made.  Sean's favorite color was purple.  So I was determined to give Jamie an edible basket of purple roses.  I had learned my lesson on the wedding cake.  I froze this one just long enough for it to freeze the icing for a bit.  That was the trick!  If I knew it would make everything better, I'd make one everyday.

I had a fun girls night with some of my girlfriends.  The cake went over well.  But I must say, that I'm not so fond of my marble cake recipe.

Ok, this turned out to be a much longer post than I had anticipated it being.  Once again, I'm sorry for the delay!  If its any consolation, I'll be posting another entry soon!

Have a great one and Happy caking!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Some Non-Class Cakes

So I have been moving and trying to get settled into the new digs for a while now.  Throughout the whole process, I have had a lot of help from a lot of people.  That being said, I have had a tremendous amount of help from my cousin Rog.  He has gone above and beyond the normal 'cousin duties'.  Within my first 3 days of moving, my sister noticed a leak in the air conditioner.  Rog was so quick to drop by after work and take a look at it.  I wanted to do something special for of course....I went to the kitchen.

Rog is a fan of the FX show, "Sons of Anarchy."  It is a great show.....if you are into the motorcycle gang, gun running kinda shows.  Anyway, I decided to make him a modification of my signature cake.  It is one that I created a few years back and it has been a hit each and every time.  I took another one of his favorites and incorporated it into both the cake and the icing.  It was a Starbucks Mocha Espresso Dark Chocolate Cake.  (Wow, what a long name.)  It was super moist and completely incredible.  The cake was so super fluffy.  There was a time that I thought it was going to spill over the edge of the cake pan.  I'm not sure if it didn't because of the baking strips or what....but thankfully everything stayed in tact!



I did learn one HUGE lesson.  It is extremely important to add the chocolate to your icing base before you add the powdered sugar!  I ended up tossing out the rest of my icing because I just got so frustrated.  It wasn't cooperating at all.  It was also the first time that I made a cake and iced it in the same day.  I was up until 2 in the morning working on it.  I was super tired when it was done.  What's funny is that the following day, just moments before Rog arrived, I was still fixing it.  (I'm a bit of a perfectionist.  It just isn't ok for me to have an imperfect cake.)

The top of the cake has the logo from the show.  I wanted to do the full logo, but it was just more than I could do.  It is really, really detailed so I skipped it.


Everyone ended up loving it.  It looked wonderful....which surprised me.  And it tasted great!  In the end, Rog knew how much I appreciated his hard work and effort.  And that is all that matters.

In other news...I was asked to "whip something up" the other day when my sister was entertaining.  So I ended up making some cupcakes.  They turned out pretty well!



I have started laying out the design of my first tiered cake as well as my first wedding cake.  As soon as they are made, I'll be posting pictures for sure!

Have a great week!


Flowers and Cake Design - Class 1 and 2

As I beginning to type this, I'm watching Hell's Kitchen.  I can't help but wonder what it would be like if Gordon Ramsay was running a bakery.  Not to mention, what he would say if he were a guest in my home for a meal.  I wonder if he would be flattering or if he would be honest and treat me like the other chefs that cook for him.

Anyway, back to the real purpose of this blog.  I started the second course of cake decorating by Wilton.  Initially this was called Course II.  I'm not entirely sure why they revamped their entire course outline.  But they are no longer calling it Course II.  It is now Flowers and Cake Design.  The first thing that I experienced is that everything that you have to purchase for this class is infinitely more expensive that then first course.  However, you are working with fondant and gum paste.  So that explains a lot.

We started right out of the gate with working with fondant.  I had thought of my sister at the beginning, so I chose to work with the purple fondant.  The consistency reminds me a lot of play-doh.  (Yeah, that is the nanny coming out in me.  One of these days it would be fun to have some fondant out with the kiddos and see what they make out of it.)  The one thing that I absolutely did not like about it is that you have to cover your hands in shortening before you work with it.  It felt totally gross.....but I will say that the following day, my hands were super soft!

One of the main things that I realized during this class was how long it takes to do anything with fondant.  I always wondered why it was so expensive to get a cake with all of the detail work done in fondant.  Now I know.  I am used to coming home from class with a full, 8" round cake to show for it.  This class on the other hand....yeah....I came home with 2 flowers.  Yep, that's right, 2.  I will say though, that they turned out wonderfully!  My first flower was the button flower.  This was SUPER easy.  However, it was done in pretty much 3 different steps.


My next flower was the pansy.  It was so hard!  I can't even imagine how long it would take to make a cake covered in them.  They were so finicky.  And tempermental.  But it turned out beautiful.  The only thing that I didn't do was use some yellow fondant for the center.  It just didn't seem logical to open a whole pack of fondant just to make one little flower.  So I cheated just a little.


The second class was great.  I felt like we did a lot more this time.  We were supposed to be working with Royal Icing, however we decided to work with buttercream instead.  The theory is that if you can create a flower with buttercream you can do it with royal icing later.  This week we worked on the apple blossom and the primrose.  (Not only is this class wonderful for cake decorating, but you really learn a lot about flowers.)  The apple blossom was super tiny.  But really cute.  It made me think of a little girl's birthday cake.


The primrose, is by far one of my favorites!  It was super cute and would look wonderful on top of some cupcakes.  They were fairly easy once I realized the bag and tip placement.  Oh and one other thing, when you sprinkle them with edible glitter....they are perfect!


Last but not least, we worked on the rosebud.  I did great on my first try!  The second however wasn't so great.  lol  You can see in the picture below that I didn't like it.  So I didn't even try to finish it! 


Overall, I'm still loving my classes.  I'm not sure what I will do when they are over.  I guess I will have to make a decision on moving further with the culinary thing.  I will be posting a few other things that don't have to do with class...but they were still a learning experience for me.

Happy caking!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Agh! Craziness!

So it just dawned on me that I never posted anything about my final class in Course 1!  It has been a really insane couple of weeks.  My class ended and then I moved.  It was pure chaos for a while.  I will say that the adjustment for the dog has been quite wonderful.  He patiently waits at the top of the stairs to see his Aunt every single day.  He is in heaven being around her so often.


While I was out of town for the previous post, my cousin had made some cupcakes.  She had planned on making something special for her dad.  I wish I would have thought to bring my caking kit!  Oh well.  They turned out great!  And the Army theme was wonderful!  I did get to use Wilton's Sparkle Gel.  I had anticipated that it would taste rather strange.  But it actually didn't have much of a flavor at all.  I will say that I found it funny how quickly I have gotten adjusted to using the decorating bags and tips.  If I ever use it again, I might make a parchment bag and use it that way.  I must say that my cousin is so thoughtful.  She didn't miss a beat when it came to making the day special for her Dad.



Now, on to my cake.  I have not idea why I decide to use a totally new recipe on a class cake.  You would think that I would attempt it on something a little less important.  Oh well.  I made a Pina Colada cake.  I had another caking friend try it and I couldn't resist.  I had strained some crushed pineapple.  Then substituted the water in my cake mix for pinapple juice.  Then right before placing it in the oven, I folded in the crushed pineapple.  The cake took a little longer to bake though.  The other thing was that I put coconut extract in the icing instead of vanilla.  It surprised me at how much I had to use in order to get a decent coconut flavor.  The other thing that I did was instead of using corn syrup or milk to thin out my icing, I used the pinapple juice.  That was another mistake.  ha ha  In small amounts, the icing seperated.  Which didn't work out so well with my green icing.  It looked pretty cool though.

As far as decorating, we really just finished off the rose technique.  And learned how to place roses on our cakes.  One of these days, I will learn how to pipe my roses directly on my cake.  But until then, I will continue to use my flower nail.  Oh, one other thing...the cake was SO MOIST!  Which makes for wonderful eating...but it sucks to decorate.  At one point, a golf ball sized chunck fell out of my cake.  I had to pipe extra icing into the cake just to fill the space.  In the end, it looked alright.  I wouldn't feel comfortable having someone pay for it.  Because it wasn't quite perfect.  (You can see in the pictures below where it wasn't quite the right.)  But the taste of the cake was incredible.  Normally, I leave a few pieces at home and then take the rest to work.  That wasn't the case with this one.  No one in the house was quite willing to see the cake leave.




Wilton has recently changed the courses around.  Instead of Course 2, it is now being called Flowers and Cake design.  That course will be starting this coming Monday.  I have yet to go buy my Student Kit.  But I will be doing that before the weekend is over.  I will be blogging my way through it though.

In other news, I am preparing for my first wedding cake.  I have been doing tons of research.  And planning out what everything is going to look like.  Words can not express how nervous I am.  But, when all is said and done, I'm sure that I will demand perfection out of myself....stress myself out....and end up with an incredible cake.

I'll keep you updated!  Happy Caking!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Class Number 3 and a Road Trip

So as I’m writing this blog, I’m in the car riding back from Springfield with my sister. We had a Change of Command ceremony for my Uncle Dad. Its always fun being with family. These past few weeks have been crazy! Not only am I working my way through these courses, but I’m also moving. Add that to my sister going through finals and lots of other drama and you have one stressed out CC! Anyway, the cake for week 3 was really interesting. As I started making it, my sister came into the kitchen with her ipod. Apparently my loud music is way too much for her to hear when she is studying. (Sorry sister!) But what I did realize is how much the music motivate me. And for anyone that knows me, you know that I absolutely should not be surprised by this. It was just fun to have music blasting and be in my own little cake world.

This cake was not that different from the others as far as decorating is concerned. I am finding that I’m turning into more of a perfectionist than I had expected to be. (Which again, isn’t that surprising.) The one thing that is different about this cake is that I used almond extract instead of vanilla. Mmm! It was incredible. I think it will be my new favorite. But I have had thoughts about maybe making a coconut frosting. The dirty ice almost ripped my cake apart from the very beginning though. (For those of you that don’t know, dirty ice is the same thing as a crumb coat. It’s a VERY light coating of icing that traps the crumbs in a thin layer of icing. So that way when you put on the final coat of icing, it doesn’t have little crumbs floating around.) I did end up being smarter than the cake. I used lots of corn syrup to thin out my icing and then it didn’t rip it apart.  I have to say that this particular cake has been my favorite so far.  Even without all the decorations on it.


The actual class was a little easier than I had anticipated.  We learned how to make little faces.  Something like Mickey Mouse.  And then we moved on to the famous rose.  The foundation of the rose is not difficult at all!  However, when it came time to putting the petals on....well that was another story!  (I have been so eager to learn this that I thought it would come naturally to me.  It clearly did not!)  In the picture below, the rose in the top right corner was my first rose.  It isn't so pretty!  They did gradually get better though.


We eventually moved on to figure piping.  I didn't expect to enjoy this part.  But as my cake was slowly coming together, I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment.  Before I knew it, I had 3 clowns, a shell border and polka dots to accent the side of my cake.



Over the next few days, I practiced my roses again.  I figured that I had the icing and that I wanted to be a little better at them for the next weeks class.  They are turning out nicely!  I did attempt a few times to see what it would be like to pipe them directly on the surface of my practice board.  That didn't go over so well!  I suppose I need a little more practice in the rose department!



Well I'm off to make another cake.  This post was actually a 2 day process.  (Kinda like my cakes!)  Tonight will be my last class of Course 1.  I did sign up for the next course.  It is called "Flowers and Cake Design".  It sounds super fun!  Oh a side far my pants are still fitting!  Ha ha!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Judie's Slice of Heaven

So I need to start off by saying a few different things.  First of all, my cakes take about 2 days to make them.  Not because I can't do it in one day.  I just find that it is easier on me to make the cakes and the icing and then decorate the following day.  One of these days I will have to bake, ice and decorate in one day.  But for now the two day thing works for me.  Secondly, it is so much fun to cook in someone else's kitchen.  I suppose one of the main things I like about it is that I don't have to clean it before I start baking.  (I think I just told on myself.)  This week has been really crazy and I knew that if I was going to have a cake for the Mother's Day Girl's Night that I was going to have to do it at my nanny gig.  Thankfully my step-sister has KitchenAid mixer.  (Yes, I nanny for family.  It is wonderful to see the little one so often!)  Anyway, back to the mixer.  Let me just say that it is pure, 100% heaven.  I'm not sure how I ever made anything without one.  I would love to have my very own by the time I'm making a tiered wedding cake.  But I'm not so sure that it is going to happen.  I was quite impressed at how quickly my eggs whipped up.  I like to turn my egg whites into a meringue before I mix in the rest of the other ingredients.  Overall, I went from the mix being in a box to having it in the pans in less time than it took me to clean up my mess.  Now, I know that I'm a messy baker....but was wicked fast!  This was the first time that I had ever made a Red Velvet cake though.  For whatever reason, I wasn't expecting it to be as red as it was.  My fingers are still slightly stained from the mix and my icing!



I went with a different recipe for my icing.  It was a cream cheese and butter base.  And it was delightful!  I took tons of time whipping it.  (I'm starting to think that anything that has to do with baking is better when whipped.)  It was a little thicker than I had wanted so I thinned it out with some Heavy Whipping Cream.  I ended up with a delightful icing that could be used for so much more than just cakes.  I'm thinking that it would be wonderful with a fruit platter!  Since this was not a cake for class I thought it was ok to change it up.  I loaded it up with a layer of frosting, fresh strawberries and more frosting in between the layers.  I was quite concerned with the stability of the finished product.  I did run into a huge problem though.  The cake was so moist that it was sticking to my fingers.  And when I went to place the top layer, it crumbled.  So here I was in my own kitchen trying to figure out how to 'glue' the cake back together with icing.  This doesn't go over so well for a perfectionist.  Eventually, I had a dirty iced cake....


I did learn that this particular icing doesn't really crust over enough to do a lot of smoothing.  As much as I didn't want to just let it go and ignore all of the lines on the cake....I decided that I didn't want to chance the cake falling apart or getting crumbs in my icing.  I made some red-ish icing to do some decorating.  This whole process was a mess!  It didn't matter how much coloring I put in the icing, I simply couldn't get the right shade of red that I wanted.  (Mental note to self:  do some research on getting the proper dye for the shade of red that I want.)  Eventually it got close enough and I went to start on the cake.  The problem that I had at that point was that my hand was melting the icing before it even was on the cake.  Overall, it ended up looking pretty good.  The one thing that I will say is that the red icing was horrible!  I absolutely need to find another way to get red icing.  All of the coloring made the icing taste really biter!  This was not a good thing!  Judie loved the cake though and that is what makes all of the effort worth it.  Here is some pics of the final product. 

Enjoy!  And happy caking!



Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cake Building

Well I waited for this day for quite some time.  I had been to the grocery store and had tons of things required to make a cake.  Not to mention a box full of fun tools to make my first homework assignment.  With it being Mother's day weekend, I decided that it would be Mom's choice....which meant chocolate cake!  (Not that I mind all that much!)  The entire kitchen was a disaster for the entire day on Sunday.

My number one lesson throughout this entire experience is that even for something as simple as a box cake, I need a KitchenAid.  Now I know what you are saying, "Carrie, you are just looking for an excuse to get a mixer."  Well you are right.  However, I was in the kitchen all afternoon, burning up my hand mixer.  I did end up buying the baking strips that I had mentioned in my last post.  And I can say that I am now a believer!  I didn't know that they would keep the edge of the pan cool enough to actually affect the way the cake bakes!  There is only one down don't end up with a lot of cake to trim off.  Which means there isn't much snacking while decorating.  (However, if this caking thing pans out, I'm sure I'll need to stop tasting in order to fit in my jeans!)

While my cake was in the oven, I started the task of making my own buttercream icing.  And I was amazed at how wonderful it turned out.  Let me stress that I was beating it for about an hour.  So it just isn't possible for it to be lumpy.  Thankfully I ended up with a light and fluffy bowl of sweetness!  Which worked out well when I was coloring it as well!

Icing the cake went fairly well.  I think that I expected it to be a lot easier than it actually was. I started with the filling between my layers.  And the key to that was that I should have had more icing!  I ended up with crumbs in my icing.  But I made up for it with a crumb coating.  I know that I am a perfectionist...but it really came out when I was putting the final icing on the cake.  It wasn't perfect...but fairly close.

Class was alright.  My practice frosting was the wrong consistency.  (Which reminds 'Madea' teacher calls it consistence.)  Because of this I was a few minutes behind the rest of the class for a majority of the whole night.  By the end of the class I had learned how to make the rainbow for my cake and had practiced handwriting.  The key is to have the right consistency icing and to relax!  All in all, I am very pleased with the way my cake turned out.  It looked wonderful and tasted just as great!  I need to read ahead and find out what we will be doing next week.  Until then, here is a few pics of my final project!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My First Class

So last night was my first session in the Wilton's Cake Decorating 1 class. I suppose that I should start by saying that I have been doing a lot of studying and research prior to signing up. Its amazing to think how much you can learn about the whole process just by looking online. You know the internet is a wonderful thing! :) Over the course of the weekend, I spent plenty of time at Michael's trying to decide what materials I absolutely needed in order to get through my first class. I ended up getting what appears to be a tackle box....only it is filled with caking goodies! As well as a set of Wilton's round cake pans. I might have been getting a little ahead of myself though. I keep thinking of tiered cakes! Mmm!

So on to the class. I was amazed that there was a variety of ages in my course. In fact there is a young girl that is taking the course with her Grandma. (I can't help but think of how much my Grandmother would have loved to take this class with me.) I have a teacher and an assistant. My teacher reminds me of Madea...just by listening to her say the word "spatchula". In fact, it sounds a lot like spatchuler. :) It makes me laugh just thinking about it. The teacher's assistant is actually a lady that reminds me of my Grandmother. She has been caking for longer than Wilton's has been offering the classes.

We went over a lot of basic information. Things like tools, pans and all of the other accessories that Wilton's offers. I must say though that I feel like I need to buy the Bake Even Cake Strips. After seeing a cake made with them and one without.....I'm completely sold. We did get the opportunity to play with some different consistency frostings. I found that I was taking notes as to what the icing looked like. We went over the recipe for the Buttercream Icing and I believe that I have already decided to make my own recipe. I just can't seem to wrap my head around the fact that they would add water to icing. It seems like it should be half and half....or maybe even heavy cream. So I will be working on a new recipe for Buttercream this weekend.

It was interesting to see someone level a cake with an actual leveler. I always cheat and use dental floss. So I am curious to see what happens differently when using the leveler instead. Not too long before the class was over, we moved on to actually icing the cake. They make it look so easy. That being said, I haven't tried it it could very well be simple. We also went over some basic decorating tips and proper bag positioning.

My homework for the week is to bring in an 8" completely iced cake. I believe that my sister has already put a bid in for what kind of cake she wants. So I'm guessing that it is going to be a Red Velvet cake. For the classes, I will be cheating and using a box cake mix. (I'm thinking that once I get my KitchenAid that I will be making them all from scratch.) The funny thing is that people are already texting me asking if they can eat my homework. I made the comment to one of my 'awesome' cousins that she was requesting to be the "dog that ate my homework". I'm beginning to think that I should make people bark before they eat my cakes. :) haha Then again, that is probably pretty mean.

I will post pictures as I work on my first assignment! Happy caking!