Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cinderella's (Interpretive Cake) Castle

So....I have this friend who's wonderful husband has managed to forget about her birthday two years in a row. This year she made it perfectly clear that if he forgot again, there was a chance of being banned from the bedroom for a certain period of time.

In an attempt to save his marriage, he approach me for a cake. Said that she loved Disney World and was thinking of a sheet cake with a castle on it. I told him, that he needed something much better than that, and suggested a 3D castle cake.

"You can do that?!?" he said in astonishment.

"Sure," I coolly replied. "In fact it would be easier to do than piping a castle onto a cake."

And behold, a castle cake I'm positive anyone could make at home:

This cake took me about 4 days to make. Of course, I wasn't working 8 hours a day on it, I probably worked 4 to 5 hours a day on it.

Do ahead work includes making the rice crispy treat turrets, making turret roofs by covering sugar ice cream cones in fondant, cutting the turret roof bases, and other decorations like a castle front door and flowers.

For the castle turrets I started by following the directions for rice crispy treats that comes on the rice cripsy box, except that I worked in half recipes at a time because it was easier to manage that amount at a time. I would press the warm treat out flat on waxed paper and allow to cool until pretty firm. To cut them out, I used the largest circle fondant cutter I had and lots of powered sugar. Sometimes the cutter got really sticky and it was just frustrating to work with - this is where I would have to take a break before I threw everything at the wall screaming and throwing a tantrum about how nothing wants to cooperate with me.

But really, it wasn't as bad as I'm making it sound - I'm just being dramatic.

After all of the circles were cut out, I stacked them up and the smushed them together and smushed the sides to make all of the turrets even in size. For the four turrets to go around the bottom tier of cake, I cut them all to be the same size using a serrated knife. I think in the future I would also trim the bottom of the turrets in a like manner so that way they all sit flush with the counter (can you believe I didn't even think to do that).

Now, I will admit that making these turrets was rather labor intensive. Don't care for edible turrets? That's fine, you can use styrofoam cylinders, or save up paper towel, toilet paper, or wrapping paper rolls to cover in fondant. If you can find the styrofoam, I would say go with that as the styrofoam will be sturdier and easier to attach when it comes time to assemble the entire cake.

Back to the edible turrets - I stuck them in refrigerator to harden a bit and meanwhile make a triple batch of American Buttercream (yum). When the turrets were of the desired hardness (didn't take long, maybe half an hour, which is also enough time to clean something up or have a snack), I crumb coated the turrets to give am even texture on the outside, then stuck them in the freezer to really get them cold so I could cover them in fondant.

Covering these suckers in fondant was easy, you roll the stuff out, the cut a long straight edge and a straight short edge. Then you roll up like a taco, cut off a straight short edge and smooth the cut edge as well as you can (I let the edges overlap). For the top, I trimmed off with a paring knife. These turrets I kept stored in the fridge until i was ready to paint - oh yes, I said paint.

About this point in the project I pretty much ran out of room on the camera memory card and so I didn't take any pictures. But to paint the turrets (which I would also do later with the first cake tier), I used clear vanilla mixed with silver luster dust. It doesn't take much vanilla to get this into a paint-like consistency. Total number of vials used (I don't know what else to call the little container that the stuff comes in): 2.

Other decorations made ahead included a door and some drop flowers. The drop flowers are a piece of cake. They make best with royal icing and since you need to give the icing time to dry and harden, it's best to make these ahead.

To make the flowers: I used two difference size tips a Wilton #129 (for bigger flowers) and a Wilton #225 (for smaller flowers). On a piece of waxed paper, hold the tip straight up and touching the paper, squeeze and turn your wrist 90 degrees. See, told you it was easy. I used a Wilton #2 for the flower centers.

To make the door: take a piece of fondant and some brown coloring, but don't mix it in all the way. I believe this is called "marbling." Cut to shape and score down the center. For the door handles, I used clear vanilla to attach. Again, SO easy.

To attach the turrets to the cake, I used toothpicks. Don't make the mistake that I made and just stick them into the turrets without noting how high up the turret the cake edges hit. Yes, I who makes no mistakes (over exaggeration) had toothpicks that were just sticking out of the turret and hanging out floating over the cake....

Also, this is a cake that will need to be dowled properly, including one long dowl going through the top tier into the bottom. And as a note, this cake traveled very well. Make sure everything is glued together with royal icing and give plenty of time for the icing to dry.

Cake Schematics:
Bottom Tier - 8-inch square cake, vanilla cake filled with raspberry jam
Top tier - 6-inch round cake, vanilla cake filled with raspberry jam
Entire cake iced with American Buttercream and covered in fondant.
Cake board size used - 14 inches square
Number of people this cake will feed - I dunno, these things are so subjective. Since it's not a wedding cake it will feed less. I would say the 6-inch cake could feed 5 to 8 people, and the 8-inch cake 10 to 15 people. People will just have to arm wrestle for the turrets.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

2009 BikeMS Ride

I promised you a report of our ride...but let's face it, you're probably here for pictures.

Unfortunately, I do not have any from the starting line. My wonderful, wonderful mother took a bunch, but she said that there was rather large man that happened to be blocking us - so she wasn't able to get a good pictures. Bummer.

But here are pictures from the second rest stop when we remembered that we had a camera and should take pictures. At this point in the ride, we had pretty much finished with all of the hill work and were still feeling really good.

I thought about cropping out the guy in the back who's bending over and fumbling with his bike, but then I decided that I would keep him there for the ladies. You don't have to thank me.

Now back to the ride. I kept looking around hoping to see something very pretty and Florida so that I could share with you all the cool stuff that I saw. But all I saw was a lot of orange groves, and they didn't smell good, so I was always just trying to pedal away from the stinky smell.

The last 15 miles of the ride really kicked our butts. Especially when we turned onto this one very windy road. It was like hitting a wall. Seriously. We had been cruising at 16 - 18 mph, but on that road, 12 mph at the most. It was tough. Then we got to a rest stop and ate the juiciest oranges ever.

Then we left the rest stop and continued on to the Caribe Royale Hotel (that was the end point for the ride) where we were riding on busy roads. Lots of cars. We didn't get honked at too much. However, because there were so many riders, it was awesome because it was just like, "Yes, I am taking over this lane right now and you in the car cannot do anything about it." But I really didn't take over a lane because my legs were BURNING so I stayed behind the husband and drafted off of him.

When we got to the finish line, they gave us each a bright orange t-shirt (see them in our hands?) and snapped out picture. But the kind lady that took our picture wanted to take one more. So we decided that instead of looking defeated, we wanted to be the strong riders that we are! Whoo!