Friday, April 29, 2011

Royal Wedding Cake

Well hello! Did you all see two of my greatest loves- the British Monarchy and Old Money People doing Old Money Things combine this morning? I did. And while I was at it, I built a 4-tier wedding cake. First I filled it with homemade lemon curd.

Then I topped it with homemade raspberry jam, laced with some Grand Mariner.

Wondering what 19 sticks of butter looks like as swiss meringue buttercream? That's 28 egg whites, 7 cups of sugar, and 19 sticks of butter. And I used almost all of it.

This is currently in my fridge: I was rushed and kind of distracted, I'll do better next time, promise.

PS- Check back tomorrow, I'll have pictures up of the cake decorated and the inside. If it doesn't collapse.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Practice Cake Home Stretch

In case you wondered what 5 pounds of butter looks like, here it is. The butter is sitting out coming to room temperature, ready to get whipped up into 18 cups of swiss meringue buttercream this evening. My lace tablecloths are ironed. My Grandmother's Sepia Rose china has been set out. My boss has sharpened my wood cake dowel into a sort of cake-spear. Everything is set.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wedding Menu

That is all.

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Measuring Cups, Bowls, Lack of Self-Control

This morning when I got an email for 25% off at (coupon code: MACYSFF), I thought, "Oh, maybe I can use this for good and not evil?" and then ten minutes later almost bought a $250 countertop convection oven.

Then this afternoon I remembered that I need new measuring cups, because I have been snapping the handles off of mine for the past 27 years, and have gone through the following: 1 stainless steel set, 1 heart-shaped red set, 1 white plastic set, 1 pink plastic set, 1 blue plastic set, and 1 Kitchen Aid set. The only things I have that measure and I haven't destroyed are my Mario Batali Measuring Prep Bowl set in creme, which I love but they are not good for scooping.

I decided that I probably wouldn't break the All-Clad set, but $50 for measuring cups? So I found these Anolon ones that don't have handles so I can't snap them off. Also they come in grey, the best color for kitchen things to come in, after cream (creme). And then Macy's suggested I might like to buy this set of Martha Stewart Bowls:
So I did. I can serve things out of these, and my chips bowl situation is kind of sad right now.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Practice Wedding Cake: The Cake

Hey you guys! Do you know what's way harder than you might think it would be? Baking 32 cups of vanilla buttermilk cake batter into actual cakes. I used a modified version of this recipe, which is my go-to red velvet (with added cocoa) and makes the lightest, fluffiest, moist-est cake. It also caused two entire days of cake drama.

Cake trial #1:

What I tried: Filling my 12", 10", 8" and 6" pans with batter according to Wilton's recommended cake-baking chart. I also wrapped the pans with cake strips to try to ensure even baking.

What happened: Cake bubbled over the sides, cake dripped from the top rack into the bottom cakes. Cake dripped from the bottom rack onto the oven floor, burned, filled my house with smoke and generally made me upset. The cakes baked totally unevenly, with sides, tops and bottoms all cooking wonky.

What I learned: Put way less cake batter into the pans. My oven sucks.

Cake trial #2:

What I tried: Filling my 12", 10", 8" and 6" pans with way less batter. Putting only 2 pans into the oven at a time.

What happened: Cakes still baked unevenly. Way too little batter in the pans.

What I learned: My oven still sucks. I should Google this.

Cake Trial #3 and #4:

What I tried: Filling my 12", 10", 8" and 6" pans with the perfect amount of batter. Putting only 1 pan into the oven at a time. Use a heating core on the 12" and 10" cakes, stolen from the inside of my bear-shaped cake pan.

What happened: Moderate success. the 12" and 8" cakes baked perfectly. The 10" and 6" baked wonky no matter what I tried.

What I learned: Use a heating core on 12" cakes. Also, use all your fail cake scraps to fill in the holes in your final cakes.

So anyway, the cakes are now happily sitting in my office's freezer so they can stay fresh until Thursday night/ Friday morning, when I try to frost and assemble this beast. I am considering sleep-deprived liveblogging the process.

In other news: The Union Jack Cake Topper is complete:


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Thursday, April 21, 2011

Today Things!

Today it is Josie Bear's birthday. She is 3 years old, and has enjoyed a day of coming to work with me, snarfing down a rawhide and napping before a trip to the Dog Store and the Dog Park. Above is a video of 15 week old Josie. Happy Birthday, Love.

IN OTHER NEWS: Lady Jane is now on Netflix instant. ZOMG. You should go watch it now because:


and also:

One more thing:

In the fliers at Jo Ann Fabrics, there is a coupon for 25% off your entire non-sale purchase today through Saturday. Which is awesome if you're going there every other day for wedding cake baking supplies.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wedding Cake Math

(Just another cake I have baked.)

There is so much cake math to do. How many cups of batter go in each pan? How much butter do you need? (Answer: So much butter)

For my practice wedding cake, I will need the following:

26 1/4 cups of sugar
35 eggs
21 sticks of butter
19 cups of flour
11 1/4 cups of oil
7 1/2 tsps of vinegar
7 1/2 cups of buttermilk
3 1/4 cups of lemon juice
2 bags of frozen raspberries
20 tsp vanilla extract

Oh, boy.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Wedding Cake Bunting

My practice wedding cake project is less than two weeks away- it'll be served at my Royal Wedding party (you should come!) like I am an actual crazy person.

Since one of the main decorations at J&J's wedding is festive garden bunting, the cake will also be edged in tiny paper pennants. I chose slate blue, pink hearts, and yellow gingham scrapbooking paper for the practice cake, and glued the double-sided triangles on light pink cotton embroidery thread. Finally getting around to using my craft mat! Antique scissors, too!

Dark, cold and rainy in Chicago today, so you get dark and dreary rain pictures.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

DIY Wedding Cake, take 1

Last night I attempted my first test run for the 4-tier cake I plan on tackling in July. For a wedding. Where I will be Maid of Honor. OK!

This is an 8" white chocolate, filled with raspberry jam and lemon curd, and frosted with swiss vanilla buttercream. It would be the third tier. Not bad.

Things I learned:

1.) Turntable. ZOMG. Do you have a turntable? You need one. Frosting goes on perfectly. Spin, spin, spin. Don't move your hand at all!

2.) Cardboard rounds. Perfectly flush, to the edge frosting. Easily pick up cake and put it wherever you want. I am never baking anything ever again without cardboard rounds.

3.) Straight edge pans. Do you have a set of those cheap, 8" or 9" standard pans that have a sloped edge, because the bottom is 8" but they go out to 9" and your cake is all wonky? Yes you do. Get straight edge, aluminum pans. You are welcome.

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

Goat's milk & Mexican vanilla pretzelbread pudding

I had forgotten to put some frozen pain au chocolat out to proof overnight, and it's still that kind of winter/spring cold and dreary where trotting down the street to pastry hunt isn't worth it, so breakfast options were slim this morning. My cell phone is programmed to give me a panic attack every time I received an e-mail, ( in case Next Paris tickets go on sale while I'm sleeping), so my brain was still thought-scrambly from interrupted REM when I stumbled into the kitchen. There was a bag of pretzel rolls, a large quantity of broccoli, 6-8 zested lemons, and half a carton of goat's milk left over from last weekend's batch of cajeta frosting.

This is what I came up with:

Goat's milk & Mexican vanilla pretzelbread pudding:

4 large pretzel rolls
4 eggs
1 cup goat's milk
1/2 cup vanilla soymilk
2 tsp mexican vanilla
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Cut pretzel rolls into 1" cubes. Beat all remaining ingredients Spray baking dish with nonstick spray. Briefly soak cubes in egg mixture then pour into the baking dish. Bake 25-30 min.

Mmm, yay. The goat's milk and eggs formed a nice custard, the pretzel crust added a nice contrast with the bite of lye and big chunks of salt.

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