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.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Happy 3rd Anniversary Ben and Ashlee

Ashlee asked me to make a cake for their anniversary this year.  How has it already been 3 years?

Anywho, she wanted it to look like the top tier of their wedding cake.

I think I managed it.

 I know my flower making skills have come a long way with practice, although when I look back at the first picture I don't think the flowers stink.   Pack rat that I am I even had the remainder of the original ribbon packed away in a tote so it matches exactly.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Monkey Business

I had a friend come to me and ask how to make a cake that looked like a monkey.  I drew him a little diagram and he said he'd give it a try. A few days before the baby shower I asked how it was going and he said he was just going to make a regular cake and draw a monkey on it.  Umm, NO!  It's a baby shower cake for his wife.  I told him I would make it for him and he asked to help.  We took 2 8" cakes and cut one into an oval, savings the sides for arms and legs, then cut the other in circle for the head, layered on a face and made ears,   An hour later:

Tada!  We have a monkey worthy of a baby shower for little Liam.

On Monday I got a thank you note from his wife saying how much she loved the cake and how amazing it tasted :)

The following weekend I did a cake for a ten-year old's birthday party.  I had a live model for this but he kept getting impatient and either moved around or needed to be right in the middle.
He is made of gumpaste.  The color in the eyes is spray on food dye.  
The shades of brown are cocoa painting, you mix cocoa powdered with vodka to get a color pallate and you do the shading with the different intensity of color.  The vodka disapates and you are just left with the color,
I took a nylon pastry brush apart to make his whiskers. 

He is just the topper for the cake

I also made a tail!  The bottom border on the cake is paw prints in alternating purple and pink.

The last cake I only had to finish.  
Seems like a simple task 1)write inscription 2) border 3) decorates
The picture is a bit small but the first step didn't work out so well.  I double checked the cake order and got the chocolate bag,   I was writing along  minding my own business, spelling ppls names wrong.....lucky for me it relatively easy to fix you freeze it for a couple minutes then lift the letters off the cake.  The hard part is making the new writing match the old writing so no one knows some thing went wrong.  You really should pick off entire words or it looks crooked.

End of Season is FINALLY HERE! Of course we do have things that need worked on.  The recipe binder is starting be less of a mess after I spent several hours of quality time with it this week.  
we have small bqts thurs and Saturday.  but I enjoyed the less than 12 hour day - 2 days in a row!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Quincenera Cake

Spell Check on the title anyone?  My computer only does English and the translator I use spells it 3 ways.  Now I know it's one way for a girl, one way for a guy but what's the last for??


I agreed to make a cake for my co-worker's daughter's party way back in the fall, when we were fully staffed and it seemed like such a great idea.

The picture of the cake I got has a bow on top of the center cake and she wanted the others left plain.  Plain white fondant, purple fondant bow around the center of satellite cakes and a big bow on the center of the stacked cakes, purple bead borders.  Needs to feed about 200 people, half white and half chocolate.  

Fast foward to the last week in January....Oh no I said I wanted flowers on the tops of all the cakes.  Now I know this is not what I agreed to but after talking to the mother (who is not the cake orderer) I decided to go along with it.  It took another 3 days to get the Birthday girl in to talk about what she wanted.  At the same time she agreed to let me do the bows out of ribbon since she wants them very, very dark purple and that much food color makes fondant taste gross and makes it harder to work with.  Oh yeah and BTW the numbers are up to 300+.

Now keep in mind I've lost 1/3 of my crew, we are in the middle of season and now I am making flowers too.

23 hours spent on gumpaste flowers and leaves, that is after I cheated and ordered lilies.

I didn't detail the process for the carnations
small centers, I left a few this size but made more petals and added to the remaining ones.
Um, yeah these are supposed to be on wires.  Crappola..see what happens when i work tired.

ROSES are next, I like making these but they are not quick by any stretch of the imagination.
first you make a little cone for the center then you cut out every leave (5 for a small, 12 for a large) thin the edge with the ball tool, cup the centers then glue them together, letting them dry between each layer of petals.  I took a shortcut on the 3 petal layer since I have the cutter for it.  
Close up of the first one I finished

The last layer of petals dry upside down to keep the shaping right.

Roses in various stages of finish.

End of day two.  Day three was finishing the roses, then day four onto leaves and finishing the lilies that I ordered.
I have a veining tool that speeds this up.  Only took 2 hours for 43 leaves.
Finished lily.  They came from the supplier plain white. 
Putting stems on the flowers I forgot to start on the wires.
I started the arrangement for the center cake on a ball to make it faster to assemble.

I got Super Baker Friend to help me with assembly since 2 sets of hands speed things up

Almost there...I actually liked it better without the border but since it wasn't my cake

The finished piece.  According to several people "everybody loved it".

Monday, January 17, 2011

The history on my computer has forgotten my blog

I think the title sorta says it all.  It's been a long frustrating winter and season is just starting.  I am going to try to get some stuff up here soon in hopes that it will help my mental creative block.  Stay posted.