Thursday, February 25, 2010

Contest Cake

So, I just got over the flu plus a throat infection.  Now,  I have been diagnosed with CSR, Central Serous Retinopathy - aka fluid build up between the layers of the retina.  This means that I have a blind spot right smack dab in the middle of my line of vision in my right eye.  YIKES!  Not that big of a deal as long as I don't try to read for very long or drive at night.  Will hopefully go away and be back to normal in six weeks.

In the mean time, I have this competition coming up and have entered the adult beginner portion.  All week long, I have hammered my brain to come up with some kind of design but have not really found anything that felt right. The cake design doesn't need to be super easy but also can't be so difficult it looks bad.  There's nothing worse than trying out new techniques when you're being judged.

So I stuck with what I knew.

You can blame the uneven ruffles on my bad eye.
My depth perception is totally shot.

Well, that is just what I did.  Everything else was too boring.  Instead, I found inspiration in a book written buy an Australian cake artist named Toba Garrett.  She does this thing with buttercream that is called a cushioned lattice.  It is incredible!!!  It looks so delicate and intricate, just like lace.  I figured I might give this a shot.  I mean, how hard can it be?  If this award winning professional can do it, surely I can too.

After three days of agonizing attempts, I finally came out with a product I can be proud of.

Not bad for a one-eyed amateur.

I chose to try a cushioned lattice technique in the shape of a heart.  The trick is to start with a smooth build up of the design.  I piped a mound of icing in the shape of a heart and smoothed it with my fingers and some corn starch.  Then, using a #5 tip, I piped criss crossing lattice over the mound.  Continuing from the #5 tip to the #4, #3, and #2, I followed the original lattice work, in the original recurring pattern.

I made purple roses, which I attached and surrounded with green vines and pink "buds" to disguise any flaws I may have made.  Eventually, there will be a similar set of roses on the other side of the heart but this is all I have so far.

I will upload the final entry later. Wish me luck!

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Tonight is our Valentine's banquet for my sorority.  I am set to bring mashed potatoes.  Typically i bring a dessert but not tonight.  Well, actually...

I decided to bring a dessert anyway.  I have never worked with fondant before and have been desperately wanting a reason to try it.  So, it being a major holiday and such, I baked a red velvet cake in the shape of a heart.  Using a serrated knife, I rounded it off to make it pretty.  Then, I iced the cake with cream cheese icing (yum) and put it in the fridge to set up.

I then worked the fondant into a nice, gooey ball and powdered the counter top with powdered sugar.  (The powdered sugar adds to the sweetness instead of detracting from it.)  I rolled the fondant with my rolling pin and laid it over the cake.  Smoothing it down wasn't too bad.  On my little six inch practice cake, I tore the fondant and didn't really know what to do.  I guess I should have rerolled it but I just covered it by piping over the crack with the cream cheese icing.

In the end, I think my cake turned out well.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it.  The only thing I will do differently next time is to use more cream cheese icing underneath the fondant.  The flavor and textures were a little unbalanced without the extra icing.  But it still tasted great.  Not bad for my first try.