Archive for February, 2010

Cake decoration classes (intermediate), part 1

By
February 22nd, 2010



Lei making and airbrushing started off the first class of this Intermediate series. We got to work with a variety of airbrushes, from a cheap starter one ($100) to the $800 professional grade one that the cake gals use.

Professinal airbrush

Professinal airbrush

It was SO MUCH FUN. I had no idea airbrushing was that addictive. I thought it was easy, and it made coloring the cake easier. It almost makes me understand why people like tagging, though I must clarify that I cannot condone illegal graffiit.

Lori

Lori

How to hold it

How to hold it

Practice fine and thick lines

Practice fine and thick lines

My graffiti

My graffiti

Joy

Joy

If I buy an airbrush, you can bet every other kind of food that can be colored, will. Pink potatoes, blue butter, red pancakes...

We also learned how to make six different kinds of lei: plumeria, carnation (which to me looks like torch ginger), ilima (with maile and pikake), Micronesian ginger, orchid, rosebud.

Plumeria

PlumeriaCarnation

Ilima, with maile and pikake

Ilima, with maile and pikake

Ginger and rosebud

Ginger and rosebud

Rosebud

Rosebud

I was tired. That's a lot of flowers. We all got tired forearms. It gets tiring to keep squeezing the bag after a while. My favorite is the rosebud, which of course will be prettier when I really do it because I'll color it for the cake. Which one do you think I should use for Olivia's birthday cake?

***

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Cane spider

By
February 19th, 2010



I was in Olivia's closet getting her daily outfit, when out from the pants crawled a large spider. Correction: I think the technical term for something that large is "big-ass." So, out came this big-ass spider.

Cousin Val's big ass spider that was in her bedroom.

Cousin Val's big ass spider that was in her bedroom.

I noticed the brown movement out of the corner of my eye and screamed. I try not to pass on my phobias to my kid, but I couldn't help it. Naturally, she freaked out, too.

I tried to calmly step out of the closet while explaining to her what it was. "It's a spider," I said, "It just startled me." I normally would have killed it, but for some reason I've read that cane spiders are actually good predators, eating nearly everything else that I hate more, including the foul and putrid cockroaches.

I can't believe that when given a choice to get a cup and get it out of my house, or take a photo of it, I chose to get snap-happy. After a minute of being frozen to the spot and helplessly looking at it, I decided to whip out my ever-present smart-phone and photograph it. I would be so useless as a first responder.

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Look at the photo. The eyes GLOW. That is even creepier than looking at it in real life.

And then that thing ran away. Duh. The flash startled it. It scampered, Usain Bolt-like, into the nether regions of the closet. Well, at least it didn't jump on me.

I've also read that the creatures like to frequent the same haunts, so it'll probably reappear in Olivia's closet at some other inopportune time.

*resigned sigh* I guess that's OK. We're in the tropics, and it's going to be some bug or another co-habitating with you, right? As long as he's eating the big roaches, he can stay.

Any suggestions for a name?

***

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Cake decoration classes (basic), part 4

By
February 16th, 2010



This class is the fourth in a series of four. We had more flower lessons and a "final" which comprised of us making a garden-themed cake.

We learned: sweetpea flower, rosebud (lying down), rope border, ribbon, and basket weave.

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Classmates

Classmates

ICE DIRTY TO ME

In between this, the teachers brought out our cakes and taught us to "dirty ice" the cake, also known as "crumb frosting."

It's a thin layer of frosting you apply to the cake, which you can get the crumbs mixed up in and not care about. Then you refrigerate that for 20 minutes and after it hardens, bring it out and ice it for real. You can save the crummy frosting separately for future dirty icings. Frosting saves indefinitely in the refrigerator.

CAKE OFF

Then, the cake challenge was to ice our cakes with certain rules: you had to basketweave the side, and you had to use flowers on the top. Most of us ended up sharing bowls of frosting (to not waste and to be efficient), and even bags of colored frosting. That way you just switch out the tips.

The KCC gals

The KCC gals

Naturally, everyone ran to make the basket first. And the brown food coloring was in high demand. Some of us decided to forego brown in favor of another color. I was sharing bags with Joy so she did her basket first. I decided to do my flowers first.

You know what's most exciting? To be able to play around and make all these pretty things. I know that from a design aesthetic, clean and simple is better, but I am always so tempted to practice every skill I have because I love turning a lump of white gooey stuff into a pretty little sculpture.

I decided to make a bunch of roses for the top, and then I got to work on the basket on the side. By this time I was tired. I had gone for a run before class and I was sleepy. It was 8 p.m., which in my world is dangerously close to bedtime. I know. I am so breaking all my rules, staying out late, by taking this cake class. What's next for me? Dancing on the table tops without my apron? Total anarchy?

Anyhow, I am trying to say I didn't finish the basket weave. I just wasn't feeling it. Or, in Ebonics, "fillin' it." I just stopped. I threw some green vines around the back half and called it a day.

It still looked OK if viewed from the front. Claus called an "anchor cake", after the way we news anchors would have our blazers pinned in the back to make it more form fitting, and shorts and slippers under the desk - and it's OK because the folks at home can't see that!

We lined up all our cakes and voted for the best one. There was a three way tie. (Among seven cakes?!)  Joy's was one of the winners. I voted for Joy's. Not because we're friends, but because her Virgo sensibilities meant she did meticulously perfect work, with a simple but elegant aesthetic.

Mine

Mine

Joy's

Joy's

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This was a really fun course! If you ever wanted to learn a little bit about cake decoration, I would totally recommend it. Even if you don't take the whole series that they offer, you will still learn a lot from this class. Especially if you are starting from zero, which is where I was. Also, we end up laughing and gossiping about various girl stuff, so it ended up being a very girly social experience. (Note: male pastry chefs take the classes too so some classes aren't all female.)

ACE OF CAKES

I'm officially a new fan of Ace of Cakes. It happens to be on when I'm ready to look at the TV and I've seen enough episodes to realize that I'm now hooked. I haven't seen Cake Boss, though I'm told it's more about family drama than pretty cakes. If that's true, then I'll probably stick to Ace of Cakes. I love to look at their cake designs. It's amazing! Amazing!!

Who saw the one with the UFO blowing up the White House? I would never think of making a cake like that, but looking at that show sure has me stretching my imagination in many different ways. And a related aside: I think I'm quite liberal, but I wouldn't have that for a wedding cake. Would you??

What is most surprising to me about this whole process is that it's more about art than baking. You can really separate the two skills sets. I understood that early on in cake classes, but watching the show validates my theory. It kind of makes me want to take art classes (though it's way down on my list for the foreseeable future) because I have had to freehand all the designs and I'm not the best artist. I've never wanted to take art classes before this.

CLIENTS

I have a growing list of "clients," I joke. They're actually just friends and relatives (big and small alike) for whom I've offered to supply the birthday cake. Free, of course. I just want the practice. I could ice the same cake 20 times for practice, but there's something about the urgency of a real-life situation that makes me take it more seriously. I've practiced at home but I tend to get lazy and slack off after a bit. Maybe it's the old news-hound in me that likes the pressure of doing something for real, versus a dry run.

***

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Cake decoration classes (basic), part 3

By
February 15th, 2010



We learned how to make several different types of flowers: rose (the hardest, according to the teachers), plumeria, daisy. I also had a tip from my mother which can make mums, so I practiced that on my own.

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The rose took forever and I think many of us would agree it needs more practice. Mine come out puffy, like old roses about to die. Joy's came out slumped over to the side, which then became hard to place all the petals on it. I think those were common problems. The teachers' roses looked like fresh, young, about-to-bloom buds.

You use a flower nail (WHICH YOU DON'T WASH WITH WATER OR IT WILL RUST!) to make the rose. It's a complicated process. We practiced all night.

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The rose base is about the size of a Hershey Kiss

The rose base is about the size of a Hershey Kiss

As a visual aid, we taped a dime onto the nail and traced it with the Sharpie. We then taped small parchment paper squares to the nail to practice on.

This way the oil won't rub the ink off.

This way the oil won't rub the ink off.

Rose center is about this size

Rose center is about this size

Practice making rose centers

Practice making rose centers

Fallen rose

Fallen rose

It got messy after this, but here, I'm learning to add all the petals. That's tricky. I couldn't take more rose photos because my hands got super sticky.

Plumeria

Plumeria

My cupcakes: rose, daisy, plumeria, mum

My cupcakes: rose, daisy, plumeria, mum

The plumeria (aka apple blossom) is easy. The daisy is harder. The mum is easy.

Joy's

Joy's

Another student, Sylvie's

Another student, Sylvie's

***
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Bro-mance

By
February 14th, 2010



It's Valentine's Day. I'm spending it without my Valentine. He's in Utah, skiing with his best friend, Paul. They're having their own little bromance.

It was supposed to be their annual boys trip, but this year, half the boys couldn't make it, so it ended up just being those two. By the time they realized it was just two of them, it was too late to back out on the airplane tickets.

They timed it around the long holiday weekend of Presidents Day, but this year that coincides with Valentine's Day. They got a lot of teasing for that. I asked where they're skiing; Brokeback Mountain?

"Better watch out," I warned Claus. "People are already claiming your spots. The housemate's in your parking stall, and Olivia's in your side of the bed." He laughed and rubbed in again about the fantastic runs and the great snow. Yeah, whatever. Skiing's long been my favorite sport.

But I got him back. Guess who's getting a pizza my heart for Valentines? And the message on the box: "To the lovebirds!"

pizza

***

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