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The cake report

DeannaS's picture

The cake report (post #63476)

in

I said I'd report on the birthday cake, and here's the report. It was my first time making real buttercream, and you all had me scared. Silly. It's easy! It's time consuming, especially since I don't have a stand mixer, but it wasn't hard. I used the WB recipe, but used Ruthwell's notes about syrup temp and how it should look and such. (Thanks, Ruthwells!)

It was also my first tiered cake. That was easy, too. The places to improve:
1. I slightly overbaked the bottom layer (chocolate chip pound cake). I made up for it with the mocha freckle top layer, though.
2. The carved top layer is a little lopsided. But, I claim I meant to do that. ;)
3. I'm still not very good at getting a really smooth surface. I'm not sure what the trick is. I don't have an offset spatula, so that might help. But, I do have a long frosting spatula, so I used that. Heating it and smoothing helped, but not completely.

Anyway, the pictures....

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

soccermom's picture

(post #63476, reply #1 of 65)

OMG, this is your first tiered cake and first attempt at buttercream? The WB better watch out! The cake is outstanding; you could definitely sell these. Congratulations!

 


 

 

 

DeannaS's picture

(post #63476, reply #2 of 65)

Thanks. I've done a lot of cake decorating the Wilton way before. So, it's not like I had no experience. It's been a lot of years, though.

Oh yah, and it was my first chocolate decorations, too. Those were a lot of fun to make!

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

soccermom's picture

(post #63476, reply #5 of 65)

I wondered if you had bought them, but I have the book and the technique looked familiar. They really are fantastic. Good job; I'll place my order as soon as you start taking them.

 


 

 

 

DeannaS's picture

(post #63476, reply #6 of 65)

Hm...I think I could ship the chocolate thingies, but the cake might suffer in transit. But, if you want some chocolate thingies, I'd be happy to make more. I have a pile of chocolate melt thingies left, and no more birthdays coming up for a while!

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

soccermom's picture

(post #63476, reply #7 of 65)

You are very sweet! But I'd really like a bucket of the buttercream and a bag of bagels. Great idea--especially from a guy!

 


 

 

 

Jean's picture

(post #63476, reply #8 of 65)

The little engines are just too cute.  Good job. How could you bear to cut it?

Veni, vidi, velcro        I came,  I  saw,  I stuck around.


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DeannaS's picture

(post #63476, reply #9 of 65)

Well, cutting it was a bit hard. I took the engines off - because they were too stiff to cut. The last kid at the party took Thomas home, munching on him on the way. Soren munched on James. I'm guessing Percy got thrown away by DH when he was cleaning up.

Poor Soren's stomach couldn't take the mix of food and antibiotics, and he ended the party by getting sick on the living room floor. So, DH cleaned up the kitchen while I cleaned up the kid. That made it easier for me - no decisions about what to do with leftover pieces.

People ate the ladybugs, though. I just plopped one on a plate, if the slice was near one. I had several people comment that they thought they'd be just sugar, but were pleasantly surprised when they realized they weren't.

Oh, and the sweetest comment was from one mom who said, "I would have been sure that was store bought - if it wasn't a party at _your_ house." (That sounds kind of catty in print, but I assure you, it wasn't.)

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

Wolvie's picture

(post #63476, reply #3 of 65)

Holy Smokes, WB better watch out indeed! Fabulous, even if it weren't a first attempt!! :-)

Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive.   Henry Steele Commager



 

 

DeannaS's picture

(post #63476, reply #4 of 65)

Thanks.

I also forgot to mention that my husband swears that buttercream on a toasted bagel is way more heavenly that that philly stuff. ;)

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

SallyBR's picture

(post #63476, reply #10 of 65)

I don t even know HOW someone makes things like this cake..... (le sigh)


it's the kind of accomplishment I know I'll NEVER do.


Congrats - it's fabulous, I am sure it felt great to just stare at your masterpiece afterwards...


 

 

DeannaS's picture

(post #63476, reply #14 of 65)

Thanks, Sally. But really - you _can_ do it. It's not that hard. It's just time-consuming.

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

Biscuits's picture

(post #63476, reply #11 of 65)

Deanna, you did an outstanding job!   Really, I'm not just saying that.  If I had something negative to say I'd just say nothing.  (G)  It's beautiful - you should be thrilled. 


Two things:


(a) getting a smooth surface requires nothing more than a LARGE icing spatula, patience, and practice.  Considering that was your first time, you did amazingly well - it looked really smooth to me in the photo.  A crumb coat helps to getting that final smooth finish, and then a final swipe with the spatula dipped in warm (not hot) water.


(b) any imperfections YOU see, most people can't.  I - we - are always more critical of our own product, and can see imperfections where no one else can.  So take that into account when you see problems.


Great job!  I see many more birthday cakes in your future!


Ancora Imparo -

Ancora Imparo -

SallyBR's picture

(post #63476, reply #12 of 65)

Attention: I am about to hijack a thread.


YOU WERE WARNED


 


Biscuit, I got the book, the art of Chinese Cooking - gosh, I am loving it! Only read the beginning part - where she teaches how to dice and cut things in fine threads - I will have to give that technique a try. I can do that with a chef's knife instead of a Chinese cleaver, I suppose.... 


too bad the only springrolls she describe are Chinese (I immediately jumped on that chapter, hoping that maybe she included a "variation" with the Vietnamese version).


Thanks for suggesting the book - can you believe I paid $ 3.00 for it? I still cannot believe it!


 

 

DeannaS's picture

(post #63476, reply #15 of 65)

Thanks Biscuit. It wasn't my first time frosting a cake - just my first time working with real buttercream. I did do a crumb coat, and that helped a lot. I think part of the issue is that I don't have a turntable, so it's hard to get a nice smooth swipe all around. If I were to be doing a lot of this, I'd definitely be investing in a turntable.

Oh, and I think the other issue that the new (or out of practice, in my case) do is to use too much frosting. WB said it would take 2 cups to crumb coat a 9 inch cake... Um...well, I used a wee bit more than that.... ;)

I know that I'm my own worst critic. I'd like things to be perfect. Of course, I know that's never gonna happen. But, a girl can dream, right?

Oh, and the smoke coming out of the engines was my husband's idea. I needed something to fill that space and was going to write their names, but I seem to have lost my writing tip. Dang it - 30 tips and no writing tip. *sigh* But, I thought the smoke was a stroke of genius and it worked better to anchor them to the top than writing their names would have.

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

Biscuits's picture

(post #63476, reply #37 of 65)

Oh, and I think the other issue that the new (or out of practice, in my case) do is to use too much frosting.


Actually - the most common mistake of a new cake-person is not using enough frosting!  You dump a LOT on top (this is after crumb coat), then smooth it down, letting the excess fall to the edges.  Then do the sides with that excess.


Quick home-made turntable:  Cake on cake circle, set on top of second cake circle, set on top of a large can of tomatoes.  Just be careful when turning it, but it works in a pinch.


Ruth:  yes, squares the most PITA shapes in cake to get right.  Try petitfours sometime.  OMG!  Hate them, hate them.  They are impossible to get perfectly sized and shaped and level!


Ancora Imparo -

Ancora Imparo -

RuthWells's picture

(post #63476, reply #39 of 65)

I HAVE tried petit fours!  Curse them!  ; )


 


Ruth Wells


"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

Ruth Wells

"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

www.lemonade-and-kidneys.blogspot.com

www.ruthssweetpleasures.com

http://www.pkdcure.org/Default.aspx?TabI...

MadMom's picture

(post #63476, reply #40 of 65)

The horrific thing to me about petit fours (which I've never tried to make, BTW) is that they are disgustingly sweet.  At least all I've ever had were like that.  Blech.  I actually don't mind things which are sweet, but these just tasted like lots of sugar with a little bit of cake in the middle. 



Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

AnnL's picture

(post #63476, reply #49 of 65)

Ruth's petit fours were not too sweet--they were very delish! 

AnnL
Transitions Farm
Gardening, cooking, and riding
in Central Mass.

Ann
"The elders were wise.  They knew that man's heart, away from nature, becomes hard; they knew that lack of respect for growing, living things, soon led to lack of respect for humans, too."  Chief Luther Standing Bear, Lakota Sioux

Wolvie's picture

(post #63476, reply #50 of 65)

Very true - even I liked them, and you know me and sweet stuff.


Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive.   Henry Steele Commager



 

 

RuthWells's picture

(post #63476, reply #64 of 65)

Ruth's petit fours were not too sweet--they were very delish! 

 


Thanks, Ann -- that was due to my using chocolate ganache to cover instead of poured fondant (which really is nasty stuff).


Ruth Wells


"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

Ruth Wells

"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

www.lemonade-and-kidneys.blogspot.com

www.ruthssweetpleasures.com

http://www.pkdcure.org/Default.aspx?TabI...

MadMom's picture

(post #63476, reply #65 of 65)

Definitely!  Poured fondant is only slightly less nasty than the confectioners' sugar crap I used on my Easter egg cakes.



Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

Wolvie's picture

(post #63476, reply #48 of 65)

Everyone liked them, tho. ;-)

Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive.   Henry Steele Commager



 

 

DeannaS's picture

(post #63476, reply #44 of 65)

Really? Hm.... Well, I definitely used more than the prescribed amount. I was worried that I'd run out before I got done.

I did do a improvised turntable - a bowl overturned. But, it doesn't "spin" very well. Oh well.

Hm...now, petit fours I do actually like - I think cause they're just little bites, so I don't have to have the major cake experience. I've never tried to make them, though.

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

RuthWells's picture

(post #63476, reply #13 of 65)

Wow, Deanna, this looks great!  Your chocolate decorations are superb.  Now that you've gone over to real buttercream, you will never go back!!


Getting a smooth icing surface is really tough, and takes lots of practice.  (I'm still practicing.)  I will echo Biscuit's advice to do a crumb coat first, and then chill the cake down before doing the final coat.  I also find a long offset spatula to be the best tool for smoothing, and I'd be completely incompetent without my turntable.  Inexpensive plastic turntables are pretty easy to come by, and have made a huge difference for me.


I made a baby shower cake last year, and designed it with lots of cake cubes to look like baby blocks.  What a PITA it was to get them even!  I think cubes must be the most unforgiving of cake shape when it comes to symmetry and evenness.


Ruth Wells


"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

Ruth Wells

"Gardening is the only unquestionably useful job."
 - G.B. Shaw

www.lemonade-and-kidneys.blogspot.com

www.ruthssweetpleasures.com

http://www.pkdcure.org/Default.aspx?TabI...

DeannaS's picture

(post #63476, reply #20 of 65)

I don't think I'd be allowed to go back. My DH would never forgive me if I ever make anything but real buttercream (okay, or ganache) again.

I think triangles are pretty unforgiving, too. Thank god for piped decorations to cover my messy corners.

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

TracyK's picture

(post #63476, reply #21 of 65)

Beautiful cake!! :-)

MadMom's picture

(post #63476, reply #16 of 65)

Beautiful!  Don't suppose you'd be interested in baking my DGS's third birthday cake, LOL.  He's a Thomas freak.  If I were more talented, I'd be considering it.



Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

DeannaS's picture

(post #63476, reply #19 of 65)

Well, I could do a chocolate Thomas or two and send them to you. I'm not sure a cake would be up to the travel.

My sister had a cake fed-exed to her once. But, the frosting was more like a poured ganache. I can't imagine how buttercream would survive.

:)

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow

MadMom's picture

(post #63476, reply #24 of 65)

You're a sweetheart!  Seriously, I might try doing some chocolate Thomases and see how they come out...how long do they keep?  Did you get directions from WB or come up with this on your own?  I don't think I'd be up to making a tiered cake, but it sure would be nice to do a bunch of little engines and put them around a regular cake.  Or, perhaps I could decorate Thomas cookies and have one for each child?  That might be an even better idea, so everyone could have their own.  I've got a couple of months before the date, so that might give me enough time to practice. 



Not One More Day!
Not One More Dime! Not One More Life! Not One More Lie!

End the Occupation of Iraq -- Bring the Troops Home Now!

And Take Care of Them When They Get Here!

DeannaS's picture

(post #63476, reply #27 of 65)

I got the technique from WB - but the designs I got online. I just googled "thomas the train" coloring pages. It was an easy way to find outlines to work with. In WB there's a good idea for making individual cupcakes topped with chocolate decorations. You just frost them and dunk in sprinkles and put a decoration on top. It might be hard to make the engines small enough for a cupcake. But, it'd be worth a try. It's a lot of fun. I used parchment paper to make the cones for piping. That was easy except that tape does not stick to parchment well, so I had to wrap a piece of tape all the way around the cone so it would stick to itself. You make the eensiest hole in the tip of the cone for doing the outlines, and slightly bigger ones for doing the rest.

You hardly use any chocolate. I bought a bag of dark chocolate for outlines, a bag of white and a bag of blue. I barely made a dent in any of them. (The candy melts come in the perfect Thomas blue, and I highly suggest going that route as opposed to trying to mix that blue. I found that mixing the colors was a lot harder than I thought - thus the brownish purple ladybugs.)

I think that they'll keep a least a couple of weeks. We're not talking high quality chocolate here. I made mine all in the week preceeding the cake making. So, I know they're fine for a week.

"As for butter versus margarine, I trust cows more than chemists." - Joan Dye Gussow