Sunday, November 21, 2010

Quince Cake: Mission Completed

First defrost all the layers (that were sitting in a freezer for a good week and a half).
Cover the layers in frosting to prepare for fondant-ing.

Cover in fondant and trim.

Do the same to the remaining top two layers.

Smooth out the fondant as best as possible - this part was pretty hard.   I knew my decorations would cover up a lot of the imperfections, though, so I didn't stress out... too much.

Stacking the layers was pretty easy.  Each layer was on it's own round piece of cardboard.  In between each cardboard layer there were wooden dowel rods supporting the layers above.  To make sure all the layers didn't just slide off each other, I just used one long dowel rod right down the center (sharpened on one end - to get through each cardboard layer... along with a hammer).

The layers are all secured together.  Time to decorate!

Put the cake topper on - and added some brown ribbons around the edge of the circles.

Preparing leaves - hand painted... all 50 of them...

more leaves :)

Applying the leaves to the cake: they stick really well with just a little bit of water.  I ended up painting the edges of the leaves to make it look prettier.  I just put the leaves in places where there were imperfections.  If I accidentally got some of the food coloring on the white parts, I would just wipe it off with a damp paper towel/clean wet paintbrush.

The finished product!  1 hour before showtime.  Phew! *beads of sweat roll off my forehead*

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Quince Prep

Here's an update!

This is what 1 hour of fondant making looks like:

It feels like a really kick-butt workout, though.  Don't try making fondant if you're already really tired.  Also, turns out that if you challenge your electric mixer to knead this super tough fondant dough for long periods of time - the bowl WILL get stuck in the holder:

But no worries, even though I wasn't able to jiggle it out, some WD-40 and my boyfriends biceps were able to shimmy the bowl from the stronghold of the kitchen aid.

I also needed to work on the cake topper for this quince cake!  It wouldn't be proper if there wasn't a big ol' "15" on top.  So, I knew that I wanted it to be brown, and initially I was going to make it out of sparkles and silly glue.  BUT.  Then I really had this desire to make it out of chocolate.  I have no idea how to work with chocolate, but it can't be that hard.... right?!  Just melt it and mold it.

I went to the cake shop to try and find a mold for the number "15".   They had really tiny ones (about 2-3" tall) and they were kind of ugly.  So, I ended up just buying some lollipop sticks.  I decided that I was going to free-hand this "15" even if it killed me.

Set up a double broiler.  You don't want to burn the chocolate and this is a good way to prevent that from happening.

Melt some milk chocolate!  I used Hershey's milk chocolate chips.

Put milk chocolate in a bag you can do some piping in.  I totally ran out of frosting bags, so I decided to use a plastic sandwich bag.  The chocolate was still pretty hot at first, so I let it cool down - made it easier to work with as well.
Cut the corner of the bag off (about 1/4 inch) and start drawing a "15" on top of two lollipop stick (one stick for each number).  Then stick it in the freezer to harden!!!

Flip numbers over when hardened and put chocolate on that side to cover up the stick and make it look preeeettay.  Then stick in the freezer!

Voila!  Two numbers ready to be stuck on top of the cake!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Gingerbread Men!

I've been craving some gingerbread man cookies for about a week - so it's about time to make some.

So, I decided to make "The Most Wonderful Gingerbread Cookies."

Check it out:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar - I used light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (optional) - I didn't use this.

1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves until well blended.
2. Beat butter, brown sugar, and egg on medium speed until well blended.
3. Add molasses, vanilla, and continue to mix until well blended.
4. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until blended and smooth.
5. Divide dough in half and wrap each half in plastic and let stand at room temperature for at least 2 hours or up to 8 hours. I let it sit for a few hours.

6. (Dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Return to room temp before using.)
7. To bake: Preheat oven to 375°.
8. Grease or line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
9. Roll dough to a scant 1/4-inch thick.
10. Use additional flour to avoid sticking.
11. Cut out cookies with desired cutter-- the ginger bread man is our favorite of course.
12. Bake 1 sheet at a time for 7-10 minutes (the lower time will give you softer cookies).

Project: QuinceaƱera Cake

You might have noticed that I haven't been baking as much lately, well I've been working - and MENTALLY PREPARING for the cake that is Margaret Mini-Me's Quince cake. This is really a challenge, but I've decided to start now... 2 weeks before the event.

It's a three layer cake *yikes* - 14 inch - 10 inch - 6 inch. Each tier has 2 layers of cake. The bottom layer of the cake is a pumpkin spice cake and the top two tiers are chocolate cake.

I've decided to make the chocolate layers today - using the chocolate cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen. After making the 10 inch layers and the 6 inch layers, I lovingly wrapped them in saran wrap and put them in the freezer. Now they're just waiting to be slapped together with frosting and fondant! Fun!

Now, since it's a Quince cake - someone is bound to turn 15! So, the cake topper is going to be "15" with leaves spread around it. My dream is to have the "15" to be made out of milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate. I just have to figure out how to do that part. From what it looks like, it could be pretty easy to make the 15, depending on what kind of font I want to use.

More to come!