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30 November 2012

Channeling Pollock

Jackson Pollock, that is.  My two designs were much more fleeting and would never have gone for the price one of his paintings commands, but I still had a lot of fun and mine creations were edible.

I got in touch with my inner artiste and splatter painted a cake...with buttercream.  Yes, it was fun.  Yes, it was messy.  But aren't some of the best things in life?

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I also splatter painted a few cake balls to go with the cake.  My hands were multicolored for days due to the food dye.  Ah, the life of a caker baker.

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I don't think any of my "paint" slinging was going anywhere near 55 mph, but then again, according to this cake, it's not my speed limit anyway.

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Oh, and have you ever seen fruit roll-up blooms?  If not, you're about to on this cute, mini, tiered cake I made for my niece's birthday.  Yep, those flowers are made from fruit leather (the polka dots are, too).  Nifty, no?  And they taste a whole lot better than the gumpaste ones!

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Talk to you soon!

P.S.  I realize I'm inundating you with cake posts this week (there will be one more tomorrow!), but I'm playing catch up on sharing my November work.  Time got away from me, and I like to try to share the cakes on the blog prior to posting them on any other social media.  That way my followers get to see the creations first!

29 November 2012

Pub Crawl

I'm famous!

Okay, well not really, but a photo of one of my cakes did get some time on our local newspaper's social media feed a few weeks back.  (Yeah, I'm behind...it's a perpetual problem this time of year.)

It was this one:

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It was the anniversary cake for a local restaurant in my hometown.  And, yes, it was a BIG undertaking.  I even recruited Pax, my artist niece, to help with it, and Madre to help with the delivery and set-up!  The entire display when set up came in at 66" long and almost 20" tall at it's tallest point.

It actually consisted of four smaller cakes, all combined to make the one display.  There was the "logo" sheet cake:

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Obviously, rendering their logo in edible medium.

The "roof is on fire" sheet cake:

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This design was from one of the t-shirts the restaurant staff wears.  The original building the Pub was in was  involved in a fire that caused them to have to move to a new location, so naturally we had to reference the happening.

And, the brick wall/beer tap cake and of course, the beer cake:

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The beer tap was designed, sculpted, and painted by Pax from Styrofoam.  I knew it wasn't something I felt comfortable taking on, and she was happy to help me out.  I'm assuming it's the first time she's ever been commissioned to create a beer tap...  Side note:  she's got a fabulous new site showcasing her artwork, you should check it out.  Just click here.

All the cakes were buttercream based with only the logos and other minor elements (i.e. the beer mug handle and beer tap) being made from either gumpaste, edible sugar sheets, or, in the case of the tap, Styrofoam.  Why styro?  I needed it to be light enough to hang off the side of the cake for an extended period of time!

The cake boards were fondant covered and painted with a copper glaze to mimic the bar top in the restaurant.  And those round and square pieces you may have noticed at the front of the cake, those were "beer coasters."  My personal favorites of those were the Rebus puzzles (word picture puzzles).

Oh, and one last tidbit.  The brick wall cake started out a light pink before I airbrushed it with a mix of dark red, black, and brown.  I'm still cleaning up the over spray...

If you're ever in my area and need a good place to have a beer and maybe get a bite to eat, you should stop in and visit the Pub.  And, no, they didn't ask me to say that - it really is a fun place to hang out.

Talk to you soon!



27 November 2012

Mascarpone Masquerader


First, what is mascarpone?

It's a rich, creamy cow's milk cheese that is somewhere between cream cheese and butter in both texture and flavor.  It's smoother than cream cheese, but thicker and less "melty" than butter; it's commonly used in Italian desserts such as tiramisu and cheesecake.

So, now in the event you have a recipe that calls for mascarpone and you can't find any available in your grocery (ahem...this has happened to me several times), here's a substitute:

Using an electric mixer, mix an 8-ounce block of softened cream cheese with 2 tablespoons heavy cream and 5 tablespoons sour cream.

Viola!  Mascarpone substitute.

Mmm...tasty!


23 November 2012

Procrastination Station

All aboard the train headed for procrastination station!

Make no mistake, I've been busy...just not busy editing photos and typing blog posts, hence, my ticket for the train.  Want proof?  This first cake is Halloween themed.  Oh yeah, you read that correctly.  It's the day AFTER Thanksgiving (by the way thanks for stopping by when you could be out shopping with the masses) and I'm still sharing Halloween cakes.  Just because I'm awesome like that.  Hah!

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In my defense, this cake was actually for the weekend after October 31.  Still, doesn't excuse my lack of updates, I know...  Anywho, the cake was finished in buttercream with fondant and gumpaste accents and had lots of gummy candies spilling out of the top of the "bag."  I remember sour gummy worms tasting so much better when I was younger though.

All that candy tends to leave you thirsty, so you might as well grab a drink from the drive-in.

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This cake started out 3D, then collapsed and became a 2D rendition instead.  (Seriously, it collapsed, that's not a euphemism or anything.)  I'm a problem solver, what can I say?  We won't go into the choice words I used and moment of utter disbelief I had when the first cake disintegrated; let's just gaze upon this version instead.  Again, all buttercream with fondant accents, except this time there's a few isomalt "ice cubes" and piping gel "diet coke."

Some of you may want to avert your eyes from the left side of this next cake.

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Yes, that is a crimson and cream (actually it's white, but official colors and all...) football helmet in my kitchen.  It was a tough undertaking to create such a thing, but I got it done, and even kept the nightmares to a minimum. Hehe!  Bedlam is tomorrow, by the way, and hopefully the Pokes will be Norman's worst nightmare.  Ride 'em, Cowboys!  The other element to this cake was the rolled fire hose.  Originally, we had planned to stack the helmet on the hose, but that would have resulted in far too many servings, so we went this route instead.  The end of the hose is modeled from rice krispy treats and the water is colored piping gel.

And, last for today, a little bit of fall.

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The leaves were piped from chocolate, yummy!  The cake was finished in a textured buttercream and the name plaque was made using fondant.  I apologize for the lighting in the photo; I had this cake finished by 6:30 pm, but with the time change it was already nearly full dark.  Short daylight hours in the evening - one of my least favorite parts of this time of year.

Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving!  Are you finished Christmas shopping yet?



21 November 2012

Giblets?


Yes, I know it's Wednesday and not Tuesday...so let's just consider this a "Tasty Tip Tuesday EXTRA" mmmk?  Now that we've got that settled, let's talk giblets.

Not sure what to do with the giblets from your turkey?  Definitely don't just throw them out!  

You can simmer everything except the liver (it often imparts a bitter flavor) in the water or stock you are going to use to make your gravy to give it an extra punch of "delish."  Feel free to chop up the giblets or just strain them out prior to finishing the gravy.

Still not convinced?  Cook the giblets, remove the bone from the turkey neck, and then give the bits to the family dog.  He'll appreciate your efforts!

Mmm...tasty!


20 November 2012

No Greasy Gravy


Too much fat in the pan juices can make your gravy greasy, but sometimes you don't have the time (or patience) to wait for the fat to rise to the surface since it can take a while.  Speed the process up by dropping a few ice cubes into the juices.  The fat will quickly rise to the top and stick to the cubes like a magnet.  All you have to do is fish out the fatty cubes with a spoon!

Mmm...tasty!


13 November 2012

Feelin' Nutty? Pecan Practicality


Pecans are packed with antioxidants and bone-strengthening magnesium, plus they are a good source of heart-healthy unsaturated fat.

So how do you get the best of batch?  Here's what to look for and how to store them:
  • Shelled pecans should look plump and be uniform in color and size.
  • Unshelled nuts should feel heavy and be blemish-free.
  • Avoid those that rattle, it is an indication of age.
  • Pecans spoil fast, so store them in the fridge for up to 9 months or in the freezer for up to 2 years.
  • They can be stored at room temperature for about 3 months.
  • Best of all?  You can thaw and refreeze pecans without affecting the quality.
Mmm...tasty!




06 November 2012

Nutmeg Knowledge


Cinnamon and nutmeg, along with pumpkin, seem to be synonymous with this time of year.  Nutmeg adds a warm, nutty flavor to creamy dishes and I even add a pinch or two to spice cakes and apple pies.  The only problem is that nutmeg loses it flavor very quickly.  The solution?  Skip the pre-ground stuff and buy whole instead; just rub the seed along a fine grater, then measure out the powder.  Store the grated seed in the jar it came in, in a cool, dark place and it should keep for up to a year.

Mmm...tasty!



05 November 2012

Coffee & Rainbows

Coffee to keep me going.

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And, rainbows for when I see the light at the end of a long stretch of caking.

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Of course, before I hit the coffee, there's a few hours of blissful work that's all bright, happy colors and lollipops (i.e. yay, I'm ahead of schedule!).

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Followed by the first cup of joe and the time monster letting me know I'm actually behind schedule.  But, at least he & his companions are friendly little things...usually.

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Then there's the late nights stumbling through the cake patch (or in this case the cupcake pumpkin patch), when the coffee's quit working, but I can see the light at the end, so plow on I must.

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The reward?  One more cup of coffee, a few hours sleep, and knowing I finished my to-do list.  Oh, and the rainbow, of course.

Can you tell most of the photos in this post were taken after dark?  See...I'm telling the truth about my late nights.  Or it could just be that the time changed and it now gets dark at practically 4:30 in the afternoon!  Puts such a crimp in my outdoor activities.  *sigh*

Talk to you soon!