Saturday, April 14, 2012

Micheal and Dayna

One of my coworkers got married today and asked me way back to make his cake.  They are both pretty laid back people and she wanted something simple.  White on white on white with fresh flowers. Half red velvet with cream cheese and half white cake with buttercream and raspberries.  I didn't realize it until I started stabilizing it today but the cakes are red and white and white and red :-).

I hadn't seen the color scheme until we got to the venue today.  Black and silver with coral, purple and white flowers.  It was very striking. 
I'm always a wreck when it comes to delivering cakes.  This one went very smoothly!  I finished it early, it was overcast and cool today, only one of the cakes shifted during transit and it was easy to repair.  We started carrying the cakes in and everyone was oohing.  Now I'm never completely happy with cakes until the entire thing is together so transporting them in pieces is not easy.    But once we got this stacked and I got the borders on I was pretty darn proud of it.

Poker themed

I get the banquet sheets last week with an order for a custom carrot cake - poker themed.  Um...OK?

They were promised something special so this one required a little bit of extra work.  I started the parts on Monday. This involved lots of questions for the poker players in house and tons of "supervision" from various crew.  Anytime we get out something out of the ordinary I have 10 people hanging out in the bakeshop just to see what we are doing. Playing cards and poker chips (aka dice) ready for the cake.
Just as I finished sticking the cards together Chef comes in and says "Nobody plays 5 card draw anymore". Also I now know that standard poker chips are red, green, blue and white. Ok, so I know next to nothing about poker, I'll freely admit to it.

But I know cake!  Carrot cake with pecans and cream cheese filling, carved to resemble a casino style poker table.  The outside of the table is brown fondant airbrushed to look like old leather, the felt is just green fondant.  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Two Peas in a pod

In September we had a guest host a baby shower for twins.  It was bug and peas in a pod themed.  We were given photos and asked to make similar cakes.
 and the side view of the sweet peas and bugs
Matching cupcakes
and the cupcakes on the stands
We started the bugs earlier in the week so they would hold their shape when we used them only to have to redo the bees because we couldn't get their wings to stay.  Super Baker Friend was thrilled to make them over :-P

Let them eat CAKE!!

For the past year we have been trying to step away from grocery store style cakes and work on making them more upscale.  We've had a few flops at the customer's request

They thought this represented playful.  I think is just looks gay.  And Why did I write surprise (twice) on the cake?  They couldn't just say it when it was carried out?

No more cake with the side completely masked with something in what "can only be an attempt to cover a poorly iced cake"  .  But when you are 90 and you want coconut on the sides just like your mother made it, well...
I almost get this one.  Aunt Marie likes blue and German Chocolate Cake with coconut pecan frosting all around it no fudge icing.  So there it is;  blue icing, blue writing, blue flowers all on a cake that doesn't take well to inscriptions at all (plus clashes with the blue).

Some of them really do look okay but I wonder at people's attention to detail when planning them.  I took a pretty white, nicely iced cake and made it look rather strange by adding white flowers, orchids and daisies.  I took a bit of liberty with the centers and the leaves so you can actually tell that there are flowers on the cake at all .
Done, and so easy!
This one is perfect - until you notice that the name is spelled wrong at the request of the orderer.  But check out the rest, smooth sides, geometric decorations, even and appropriately sized borders, only a bit of fruit to brighten it up.
A last minute wedding cake for a very small celebration gum paste flowers taken from the stash I've been slowly building and more quickly depleting.
Real Italian Buttercream on this one with flowers rescued from my dwindling stash
Handmade gumpaste roses

Cake for somebody who doesn't like cake.  I was tempted to point out that petit fours of this type are cake.  We even made the cake stand out of dishes and hot sugar.

Handmade Roses for Rosie
Doc's All Chocolate Cake that I used chocolate dipt strawberries to decorate.
Black and White Cake - this is turning into our signature cake (drat the idea)  it was all dark chocolate so instead of adding a dark border I took the opportunity to show off a bit.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Battle Score: Macaron Shells 99 Rebecca 1

We have been making almond macarons in house for more than a year with all kinds of different results.
We started with pink raspberry, then red with rosewater and raspberry, next purple with housemade blueberry jelly, now purple with Lavender and Earl Grey Ganache filling.  I have been able to make them work for the most part but the shells are inconsistent at times.  Today I made the most perfect batch yet:

All because I couldn't sleep last night... I was on the internet when I had a "d- oh" moment.  We have been trying to denature the egg whites ourselves when we have the perfect product always in the fridge.  So I did a rift on Pierre Hermes method for shells.  I used carton egg whites with citric acid added and put the food coloring directly into the italian meringue instead of adding it to the almonds. ** If I was a cartoon figure there would have been a giant light bulb over my head. ** PERFECTION!!   or "Dammit Jim, I'm a Dr not a machine."  (as close to perfection as possible)
We are using a Lavender and Earl Grey infused Dark Chocolate Ganache, alone the filling lacks any hint of sweet but it very tasty, when you add it to the shells it lacks nothing. In fact it takes on magical properties, it flies off the pan and dive bombs my face at least a couple of times a batch.
And that my friends is my first total win with the macaron.

Also, I am on forced easy duty for a bit.  Life is kicking my butt.  But on the bright side I have time to catch up on the blog. :)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The French Onion Soup Dilemma

We use a heavy crock at work to serve French Onion Soup in .  A Buttered Toast Round topped with Gruyere cheese and fresh herbs sits on top.  To keep it from getting soggy while it is going out to the dining room it should rest completely on the rim of the dish.  When simply bread in Phx closed down we lost our loaves of bread that you could cut a 4.5" round out of each slice.  We've done some searching and some limping along making do.

We got in these pans to make bread for the croutons.  The stinkers don't fit in the proof box at all.  We had to be creative and make proofing happen in a hot box for holding food.  The process involves:  3 cans 2 hr heat sterno, 1-400 perforated pan, 1 200 pan and a quart of very hot water.  You light two sterno and put them under the upside down 400 pan, the perforation allows the sterno to remain burning. Then you top that with the 200 pan.  Light the 3rd sterno and set it off to the side.    By the time you retreive the water the 200 pan should be nicely warmed up.  Pour the water into it slowly, (too much water or too cold of water doesnt produce enough steam) and close the doors fast.  Resist the urge to check on it multiple times as it slows it down horribly. It's totally redneck and I know it.  It's also stupid to have pans that we know we need to proof that don't fit the proofer, so EH?

We stuck with a lean, low hydration recipe to make the bread rise tall with a crisp crust to hold it's shape after baking.

We work (knead) the dough slightly longer than I usually would to get this shape and to make the regular, close crumb.  If the bread has holes too large it is more likely to crack and fall in the soup crock.

Mostly when they come out of the oven I just want to caress them and sniff them from time to time.  The boys have wild dreams of a really really big mufellta sandwich stuffed with every imaginable good thing.  or maybe a philly with a ton of meat, or maybe...well it changes every hour that the bread is cooling.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Make it Pretty

I got a cake order last month for a "cream cake with fondant and lemon filling, polka dot, flowers, pink and green, feminine"  The lady called to said she 'had expectations' and to 'make it pretty'.   What??  I make ugly cakes?  LOL  I was making flowers for the anniversary cake so I threw down both of them in a couple of slow work days.
Storing them on the counter (my usual method) made the boss very nervous since people wanted to touch them so we ended up locking them up.  It's funny to me that we don't lock up the booze or the expensive meats or the specialty cheeses but we did flowers made out of about $4 worth of gumpaste and a bit of food coloring.  I guess he was a bit scared I would go postal on somebody when they got broken.  Little did he know I broke 2 flowers and a leaf putting the cake together.

The cake was for Sunday so I was baking it off on Wednesday so I could build it before I took Friday and Saturday off for family time.  I had the batter in the pans waiting for the creme brulee to get out of the oven when the F&B director came in and told me that apparently 'the birthday girl was diagnosed just today with celiac and could we make the cake gluten free'.  I had to make a run to Whole Foods for cake mix - since I don't regularly do gluten-free baking I don't have the supplies on hand to whip it out.  Dang am I glad gluten is not on my allergy list since cake mix for 1 - 2" tall 8"round cake is $4.99 (we charge $6.50 a slice for cake in the restaurant so we do 3' - 5" cakes).

Gluten free white cake with lemon curd filling, marshmallow fondant and gumpaste flowers.