...you can usually learn something if you pay attention.
I am hosting a Pampered Chef party on Thursday so I decided to make a coconut cake for the party and decorate it to the theme of kitchen utensils.
I was very excited to do a day by day walk through again on this thing so I'll show you the cool pics first. Then I'll show you the disaster. Tomorrow I'll show how I started all over to fix it.
These are fondant pieces to decorate the cake with. Yes. Fondant.
And then for fun, I decided to make some calla lilies to store for future use. These are the flowers and the stamens set aside to dry.
But that's not the end of the story. They look pretty good here, right? They were drying nicely, easy to pick up. I figured I'd give them one more day to harden before I put them together.
And then disaster.
What I didn't take into consideration was the humidity and the fact that until last night we had our house windows wide open and the ceiling fans on. So before I show the pictures that make me queasy, let's go back to a primer. Fondant is made of powdered sugar and glucose, basically. It's easy to work with because it's pliable but it also hardens. I've used it before for flowers a lot. BUT, the other material to work flowers with is gumpaste which is powdered sugar with gum arabic in it which creates a slightly harder, dryer texture. Still pliable and easy to work with but it dries harder and stays harder in humidity. I haven't seriously decorated in a long time so I didn't even think about the fact that we've had high temps with off and on rain showers for a couple of days.
When I walked into the dining room right before going to bed last night, this is what I found. Limp, WET, shiny fondant pieces. EXCEPT for the one "measuring cup" piece I'd made from gumpaste because I'd run out of fondant.
When I first made these little cutesy blooms to hold back for the nieces cakes later in the summer, they were 3-D with their petals poking up all over. Now they're a limp, soggy, gross mess. I'll have to throw them away today. I didn't have the heart to do it last night. All I could think at the time was that I had about 5 hours worth of work sitting on the table that will go in the trash can.
These are the fondant kitchen utensils. Yesterday afternoon they were hard and drying nicely. Last night they were an ooey gooey mess. This morning they're better but I don't think they'll be dry enough to use on the cake tomorrow night so I'll be remaking them.
The only piece that's not basically sweating and limp on that tray (sounds dirty) is the gumpaste blue/gray measuring cup. It's fine so I'll be remaking everything for the bit of gumpaste I have left.
I'll still give these more time to dry but I can't afford to wait until the last minute to remake them. I'll store these in plastic boxes in the closet where humidity shouldn't get to them and maybe use them later for something.
It also mkes me slightly sick to my stomach to lose these calla lilies. Some of them have collapsted at the top and the stamens are very soft. Like the kitchen "tools" I'm going to give them more time to dry and see if I can salvage any of them but I doubt it. They're so soft. In the meantime, we closed the house up, turned on the air, and turned the DE-humidifier in our air conditioning system on. We'll see.
Don't they look like melted candle wax?
Thankfully, I did take pics as I constructed all of this, so later in the week when I'm over the shock I'll post a step by step tutorial on all of these.
I know this is only cake flowers and it's not earth-shattering but it's the wasted time that bums me out. The utensils are for a cake I'm doing. The flowers were just for fun, for the practice, and to store for the future so they don't matter as much but it's still a lot of wasted time and wasted product.
But this brings up another point for me too. Before I go further, I just want to say a huge THANK YOU to all of my friends, family, and strangers here in southwest Missouri who have called or emailed me asking for me to make cakes. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am so flattered that you see my cakes and want me to make your children's or spouse's birthday cakes. I really do feel highly complimented.
I've explained before that my hands hurt and swell up when I decorate more than just a short time each day and that's how I'm getitng away with making the cakes I am for family. There's no pressure and I'm just doing what I want to as I want to. The Pampered Chef cake, for example. I don't have to make cake for the party. Actually, with this obstacle, I could write it off right now and no one would be the wiser. But imagine how much pressure I'd feel right now if that had happened to the flowers for a commissioned birthday or wedding cake. Imagine how much pressure there would be if I was also working five nights a week at the hospital and had this cake due on Thursday. I'd be freaking out, quite frankly, and that pressure would take the fun out of it for me. The second thing I thought last night when I found the mess on the table (after the words "mooooooooother fuuuuuuuudger" ran through my brain) was that thank heavens this wasn't for a paying cake like back when I had the business. So this is yet another reason I don't bake cakes as a business anymore. Although, should I get a cookbook deal someday....everyone who knows me will probably be swimming in cakes as I try out new recipes and designs.
Even though it's a set back I'm going to go ahead and complete the cake for the party. And the positive aspect of this is look what a huge lesson I remembered: pay attention to the humidity level.
I'll keep you posted every day with how it goes.