I have a new lunchbox article up at The Daily Tiffin complete with instructions for making the sandwiches and updates on my diet. As Agent Lundy on Dexter said "It's all about the cream cheese." Well, more specifically, it's all about seasoning the cream cheese.
Don't you love the cake table? To the left is the back up sheet cake/groom's cake with the Batman logo on it. The groom is a huge comics book fan. To the right is the skull punch bowl. Rock on.
I just loved this wedding and reception. Everything about it was tongue in cheek and very fun, very much a showing of the bride and grooms' personalities. Although I don't know Lucas at all, I've worked with Jessica a couple of years now and have always liked her. She's loud and fun--two of my favorite things in the whole world. Oh, and she cusses like a sailor. We're twin souls when it comes to that. So the two of us in a unit together is like painting the walls blue. But dammit, we're fun!
The wedding was held miles out in the middle of farming country, north of Springfield. The last 30 minutes of the drive was on dirt road with small washes over creeks and on lanes so narrow the branches of the trees intertwined overhead. Once to the farm, the house and staging area for the wedding sit on a hill so that the view was of the sunset on the hills all around. The reception was held in a pole barn out behind the house with a tent for the food. It truly was one of the most creative, spirited, and warm fuzzy home weddings I've ever been to.
My favorite part of the cake was the roses. I've worked gumpaste roses for a couple of years now but this batch was one of my best. I really enjoyed doing these and how they came out.
This whole project started when I went into work one night. Jessica was talking about how untraditional her wedding would be: the weekend before Halloween with a Halloween theme, tons of gargoyles, walking down the aisle to head-banger music, having black in her wedding dress and dressing her groom in a red tux and the ushers in purple tuxes....what's not to love? Then she uttered the statement that captured my little cake decorating heart "I don't know where I'm going to find a baker who will make a black fondant wedding cake..." Oh. Be still my heart. Pick me. I volunteered on the spot. I thought for a minute and said "You know what kind of cake has to be inside it, right?" She replied, "I'm hoping you're going to say red velvet." Yes, indeedy. Red velvet cake inside the black fondant with purple polka dots and blood red roses. Again, what's not to love?
For more pictures of the actual wedding and bride and groom, click here: JESSICA
For pictures of the step by step process of the making the cake, click below.
Jessica's roses are almost done. They'll all be in different stages of bloom including a few petals here and there. The brighter color are the petals I placed today, the darker are the ones that have dried. Neither color is quite true. When done, the roses will be a dark bloodish brown red, not bright orange.
Also, just for grins I made old-fashioned popcorn this afternoon. I'd damn near forgotten how. I bought the real popcorn and coconut oil as a treat for the nieces and nephews since none of them have ever had anything but microwave popcorn at home and God knows breathing in the popcorn chemicals will kill you. Seriously. Pumonary fibrosis. So don't breathe the microwave popcorn steam when you first open the bag.
Real popcorn. Yum. What a treat. Better than movie popcorn. But now I do remember why were all so excited about microwave popcorn when it came out. It's not hard but it is a pain in the butt and you can burn yourself dumping the popcorn from the kettle into the bowl. Worth every swollen red mark, though.
Ha! At first I thought I'd burned it but then I remember that I'd bought the dark red kernels so, of course, the insides of the popcorn are demonically dark!
First, preparing cake pans. I admit this is something I completely take for granted because my mother was a cake decorator and I was drafted into the kitchen to be her frosting maker and pan-preparing bitch at about the age of eight. But, I have found that some of my friends who were baking since they gave up Barbies aren't as familiar with how to prepare a cake pan so you can actually get that little *&^% out of that pan.
First off, the pans need to be greased well. You can do that with oil, shortening, or a cooking spray. When cooking spray first came on the market decades ago they did not recommend using it to prepare cake pans but most of us lazy bakers used it anyway and it worked just fine so that's standard to me now. If you want to go the extra mile, you can even flour the pan by dropping a little flour into the bottom and swriling it around until all the spray covered surfaces are dusty. Or, there are now baker's sprays on the market that contain both oil and flour that you spray on at the same time. Personally, I don't bother with those. I've never felt the need.
The one thing I never ever miss is the waxed or parchment paper in the bottom of the pan. Either works great, waxed paper is cheaper so that's what I use. To cute the circle you can either outline the pan bottom with a pencil onto the paper and cut it out or what I do is fold the paper into a triangle about four times over until get a small enough triangle to be convenient, point the pointy end towards the center of the pan to measure out where you're going to cut, give it a snip, and voila, it's done.
The only thing you have to watch for is to make sure you get the waxed paper laying flat against the bottom of the pan and then you're ready to fill with batter.
Now, once the cakes are finished, there's nothing wrong with freezing them for a month or two if you do it right. The key is several tight layers, and for me, I'm much more comfortable storing them inside a plastic container of some kind. I have about three of those plastic tupperware cake carriers and those work great. I just put the layers down into them after wrapping, put the bottom on top to become a lid and then I feel very secure about freezing my cake layers.
After the layers cool completely, leave the waxed paper from the pan on the bottom and wrapp in another layer of waxed paper. Follow this with a layer of plastic wrap and then, if you have them in the right sizes, slip all of that down into a freezer baggy before placing into the plastic container. That will keep out anything noxious from the freezer.
To defrost, move the layers out of the containers and into the fridge overnight. If you defrost them on the counter they can pick up a little too much moisture and become soggy, but in the fridge overnight before going out on the counter to be worked up has always worked nicely for me.
This is what a day of baking looks like packaged for the freezer:
Is it just me or is there some quirk of fate that likes to pummel the shit out of me with obligations and just sit back and laugh uproariously? Not that I take this personally or anything... yeah, right. Here's the deal. My friend Jessica at work was talking one night about her wedding and how she's getting married the last Saturday in October with a Halloween theme. Oh man, that made my heart go pitter-pat. Halloween is my favorite holiday and to theme a wedding around it...ahhhh, she had me at "and as the bride I'll be dressed completely in Morticia black..."
She had a little trouble finding a bakery who wanted to decorate an all black fondant cake with purple polka dots and blood red gumpaste roses....holy hell, Jessica, welcome to my mind's playground. When an idea popped into my head and I said to her "You know what kind of cake it has to be, right?" and she didn't miss a beat before replying "I'm hoping you're going to say Red Velvet..." I could have kissed her. Apparently we're soul sisters and didn't even know it. Just the thought of cutting into an all black fondant exterior to reveal and all blood red interior made the words "I'll do it!" come out of my mouth before I could remember that decorating hurts my hands and that I've turned down tons of wonderful people and doing their cakes. I only felt guilty for a minute. I've been throwing ideas into a file for a cake cookbook and how COOL would that be as a signature cake? Sure as hell wouldn't be a boring dime a dozen, eh? Okay, so my motivation was partly selfishly motivated but in a good way. I'm making this cake as an homage to my own Halloween fantasies: part ghoulish laughter, part even ghoulish laughter can be classy.
I knew to save my hands I needed to break up the baking and decorating days. Also, I work 6pm-7am the night before the wedding so I REALLY have to be organized on this one. Not only do I need to sleep most of the day before going to the wedding and setting up the cake, it's an hour and a half drive from here so that cake has to be done by the Thursday before the wedding and sitting in the fridge.
And then, as these things always go with me...I don't really have any commitments between now and the 20th, the week prior to the wedding. I just work a few days and need to go get an allergy shot...wide open. Great big do nothing but work on my novel days... until the 21st. The 21st is the first day of National Respiratory Care week and not paying attention to the date, I volunteered to take RT photos at work and put together a display table for the hospital atrium. Hey, no pressure there! Then, again not thinking about it and not having a choice, I have ACLS (Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support) training on the 22nd and 23rd. No big deal, just certification in running a code and half the people who've taken it were traumatized by it. No pressure there! And then my husband's birthday is the 24th--well, DAMN! No pressure and nothing to do THERE! And THEN, yes it gets worse actually, on the Friday that I work, the night before Jessica's wedding, I volunteered to make some kind of cake as treats for our department for the last day of National Respiratory Care Week. NO f-ing PRESSURE THERE!
Excuse me. I'm curled up in a fetal ball just from typing it. Have no idea how I'm going to survive it.