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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cake Boss

I spent last week rushing around like a crazy lady, trying to get the right ingredients for a baby shower cake I was delivering Sunday. It took 4 stores, 3 trips, and a full tank of gas to find quality ingredients. When I couldn't find Ghirardelli cocoa powder in my local A&P, I was crestfallen. I would have to shlep 45 minutes in traffic just to get to Fairway, where my ingredients awaited me. My fiancĂ© Alex and I have been together for awhile, and when he innocently suggested I just use Hershey's, what's the difference? he should not have seemed so surprised by my answer. First, the stare...then a glare. "ARE YOU KIDDING ME? That's DISGUSTING! I use QUALITY ingredients! It's the main ingredient in a CHOCOLATE cake! Don't you remember our taste test?" Obviously, there was a day I'd sat him down and had him try Nestle, Ghirardelli, and Callebaut. He was a good sport and said he could really taste the chalky flavor of lesser quality versus the good stuff. I kept asking him to really taste each one and see what I was talking about...I think he just wanted to eat the chocolate. "I can taste the difference. Can I try that one again just to compare?" Uh huh. Riiiight.
Well after I yelled at him for his obvious stupidity, he offered to go to Fairway for me the next day and buy all of the ingredients I needed. Hmm. Time to reevaluate the situation.

I digress. Anyway, I started baking Friday night. A delicious chocolate recipe I have from a fabulous wedding cake chef who graduated from the same culinary school as me. I am usually a fan of white cake over chocolate, but this one is just fantastic. Unfortunately, just one chocolate cake was not enough. I had decided to make a 10 inch square base and a 6 inch round cake on top. I wanted layers, I wanted depth, I wanted the WOW factor. So I decided to make a vanilla cake as well. I failed to mention that Alex bought me special cake flour at Fairway, which I thought I needed for the chocolate, but it turned out I was actually thinking of a different recipe...this vanilla recipe. So I kill 2 birds with one stone. A WOW cake and a happy fiance. So Saturday came and I quickly made the vanilla cake...and a cookies and cream filling...and a Tahitian vanilla buttercream. But on Friday...

Alex wanted to help me make a WOW cake and I wanted to attempt some Cake Boss meets Charm City-quality decorating. We both rolled rice krispy treats (which I’ve only made maybe twice in my life) into bears and compared. I liked my bear because he was fatter and looked fluffier (or krispier?) and Alex liked his bear because it was smoother and would ultimately be easier to cover with fondant. Alex also made me 3 cubes for my blocks, and a beach ball. By the time we were done (late late late!) we were exhausted, so fondant covering would wait until the next day.

I was on my own on Saturday, as Alex was working all day. I spent all evening rolling fondant, covering the bears, gluing arms (with royal icing…which, by the way, I made a huge bag full and only needed a few squirts), gluing feet, dying fondant for a nose and eyes…it was a late night and I didn’t even finish! I woke up early Sunday morning (baby shower day) and decided the cake was too bare, so I added fondant stripes in 4 different colors around the edges, attached my bear and the blocks and beach ball and looked again. I was pretty impressed…rice krispy figures weren’t so hard! Meanwhile, after all this work, I sat on the edge of my seat at the shower as I watched all of the little children surround the cake, surreptitiously sneaking licks of the icing. Maybe this is why they never invite the chef…

Monday, May 16, 2011

I'm the Boss

I was never good at sharing. It took me years (more than 20) to figure out how to share. But now I pride myself on being an excellent sharer. Oh, I still repeat a mantra to myself every time I share (you can always buy more Luna bars; you can always get more sushi), but overall I've gotten much better at it. That being said, there is one thing I'm not good at sharing: space in the kitchen. Something inside of me gets fired up and takes over whenever I enter the kitchen. With this need to be the Top Banana (or perhaps more fittingly, the Top Cheesecake) comes the responsibility of working for myself. I have my own pastry business and I sell desserts to the masses (albeit small...some might say peanut-sized masses. Well, really masslets. Mini masses.). At any rate, I would like to use this blog as a place to share with you the trials and tribulations of a pastry chef. And to be quite frank, I am much better at blogging than I am at creating websites. I get too wordy...but in a blog, I think that's acceptable. Should you like to view a more extensive gallery of my baked goods, check out my website: Otherwise for now, let's just dive right in, shall we?