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!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mother's Day Presents

Husband and I - we love our mothers. So we decided to give them each a present cake for Mother's Day. Don't worry - one of us doesn't have two mothers, we just have a mother who currently lives with an aunt and we didn't want to leave auntie out!

It's seems to be a widely accepted perception that working with fondant is a pain in the butt (especially the part where you have to cover a cake), but I actually enjoy working with it. Outside of the baking, crumb coating, and icing - all three of these cakes took me only a couple hours to complete.

Oh, what's that? You want to make one yourself. Why sure - I think I can show you how to do that.

Step 1: Cover cake in Fondant. Using a good chunk of fondant, roll it out to a little less than 1/4-inch thick. How big to make the piece of fondant? Well, that all depends on how big the cake is that you're trying to cover. Just take a ruler measure the height, multiply that by two, then measure across the cake and add that to the current total. That's the minimum diameter the size your piece of fondant needs to be. For me, I add a few inches because I find it easier to smooth the fondant when it is generously draped on the cake.

Using a fondant smoother, just rub it on the cake to work the fondant onto the cake and to get it to stick. To get around the corners, grab the fondant and stretch it a little bit as you use the fondant smoother to work the fondant around the corners. Once the fondant is on the cake and looks beautiful, take a sharp knife and cut off the excess.

Step 2: Make the Bow. This step will have several steps to it, but I think you'll be able to keep up with the madness.

First thing to do is to roll out another chunk of fondant in the color of your choice. How much fondant will you need? Well, less than what you used to cover your cake. I know that's pretty vague, but it depends on the size of your cake and how big of a bow you want to have. But I digress, roll out your fondant anywhere between 1/8-inch and 1/4-inch thick. Then cut two long strips for the ribbon that "ties" onto your cake. Place it on your cake, and move on to making the bow.

The bow is not a long piece of fondant of tied into a bow. It's 5 pieces of fondant put together to look like a bow. For the bow loops, cut another long piece of fondant and then fold the outside ends into the middle. Now, step back and decide if that is how big you want your bow to be. If not, trim or start over as necessary. If you like what you've got, then take a sharp knife and cut down the middle so you have two separate bow loops.

Take the ends of the bow loops and fold each side of the ends into thirds. To make your bow look more life-like than mine, you can fold it so there are creases. Next, take some clear vanilla extract (or liquor) and using a food-dedicated paint brush (which means, a brand new brush that has never been used to paint) brush some of the clear vanilla onto the inside of the ends and press together. When the alcohol evaporates, the ends will be stuck together. To help the bow keep a fluffy shape, stuff some paper towel scraps into the loops and keep 'em there until the loops are dry enough to hold their shape. Next, cut another piece of fondant for the middle of the bow, place the loops (with the top side down) onto the center of the new piece of fondant and paint a little clear vanilla on the ends of the loops and the ends of the middle piece to hold the bow together.

Make sure that you press this together to seal it and then set aside and start on the bow's tails. For tails, cut two strips of fondant to the length that you would like the tails to be. I like to cut a triangle out of the bottom end of my tails because I think it looks pretty. But you can cut it on an angle or leave it straight. Next, for the end of the tails that will connect to the bow, I folded the sides toward the center and pressed it down, but you can crease and/or gather your ends however you like. Next step is to place the tails and the bow on your cake and glue them together with clear vanilla extract. If you haven't done so yet, trim the ribbons on the cake and fasten the ends to the bottom of your cake with a little clear vanilla.

And voila! You've made your cake look like a present! How darling!

Now, you can take the paper towel scraps out of the loops when the loops are dry enough so they don't fall.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The ABC's of Cake

Oh...I'm sorry for the deceiving title of this post. I just couldn't resist. I wish I had something as clever as list in alphabetical order for cake making. In fact - that's not a bad idea. Maybe when I find some time, I'll make one.

But really, this is just a birthday cake with ABC's on it. I got a new set of fondant cutters, I had to use them!

This lovely little cake had one of my favorite things in the middle: Lemon Curd. Yum. I could drink the stuff out of a juice box - if it came that way (in fact, that's not a bad idea).

By the way, I did mean to take a picture of the first layer with the curd poured in the center, but then my mom called, and I was talking to her on the phone and assembling the cake at the same time. Great multitasking, but I was just a little distracted.

At any rate, making this cake was a piece of cake (pun intended):

A Few Days Before Delivery: Baked the cakes, triple wrapped them, and placed in the freezer. I pulled them out the day I planned to decorate.

Two Days Before Delivery: Made the lemon curd. My new favorite cake book has a recipe, but I didn't want to use it. I'm in love with Alton Brown's lemon curd recipe which is so easy, and smooth, and flavorful. Don't worry, I've included it at the end.

The Next Day/Evening Before Delivery:

1) Made the fondant cutouts. Now, I buy my fondant. I don't mess with making the stuff because making it just isn't worth it. And let's face it - fondant isn't that delicious (at least not as delicious as lemon curd mixed with some buttercream...Oh my!). But I disgress, I buy my fondant, and the brands I use are as follows: Pettinice if I'm going to plain, white, vanilla fondant. If I need something colored (and for bold colored fondants such as red or black, you're better off buying the stuff and saving yourself a massive backache and headache) I use Satin Ice. It's good, but I've gotten better compliments on the pettinice fondant. So, like I said, if you need a really, really bold color - just buy the stuff. I don't know if Pettinice makes colored fondants (I haven't seen anything other than ivory or chocolate which I'm assuming is brown), but maybe the store I shop at doesn't carry it if they do.

Anyway, a little trick I found with the fondant letters that I cut out: because the cutters were so small it wasn't enough to dust the cutters in confectioner's sugar, it helped to mix a little sugar with the fondant to stiffen it up a bit. Normally, when covering a cake, I wouldn't do that in order to prevent the fondant from drying and cracking, but in this instance, it really helped when it was time to coax the cutters away from the fondant letters.

2) Leveled, filled, crumb coated the cake - then cleaned the kitchen. Next applied final layer of buttercream. Decorated! I used a Wilton #12 round tip for the boarders.

Lemon Curd
By: Alton Brown

Makes 1 pint

5 egg yolks (save the whites!)
1 cup sugar
4 lemons, zested and juiced
1 stick butter, cut into pats and chilled

1) Add enough water to a medium-sized saucepan to come up about 1-inch up the side. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.

2) Meanwhile, combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized metal bowl (I used a glass one, oh well) and whisk until smooth, about 1 minute.

3) Measure citrus juice and if needed, add enough cold water to equal 1/3 cup. Add juice and zest to egg mixture and whisk smooth.

4) Once water reaches a simmer, reduce heat to low and place bowl over saucepan. (Bowl should be large enough to fit over saucepan without touching the water.)

5) Whisk until thickened, approximately 8 minutes, or until mixture is light yellow and coats the back of a spoon.

6) Remove promptly from heat and add butter one piece at a time, allowing each addition to melt completely before adding the next.

7) Remove to a clean container and cover by placing a layer of plastic wrap directly to the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

And the BikeMS Cake Raffle Winners Are....

The long awaited day has come! I can't tell you how happy we are that so many have supported us for this bike ride. This raffle was so successful and we had so much fun fundraising, that we've decided to make this an annual gig. So for those of you that wanted to win a cake, and didn't (I know, I wish we could give everyone a cake) there is always next year!

I'd like to admit that I was nervous doing this video (and when you watch it you'll see why). I wanted to make sure that I didn't mess up or have a booger on my nose or anything embarrassing like that. I think I'm quite a ham. When we watched it right after we finished recording, Husband chuckled at me and said I was a cheeseball, but still cute. How endearing.

Thanks to everyone below for donating:

K. Beckford
M. Beriswill
A. Cabibi
S. Coffel
B. Dieterich
K. Eckert
E. Eison
S. Engel
T. Forrester
E. Frieri
M. Fuller
L. Fuller
A. Funk
W. Funk
C. Gore
L. Harford
M. Hauser
G. Henderson
M. Henderson
L. Hill
J. Hinsley
H. Hoffman
M. Holasek
E. Hoover
M. Jones
S. King
M. Kirkover
R. Kucharsky
S. Kumar
V. Lancy
C. Maynard
D. McGowan
E. Mieswinkel
R. Minnear
M. Nix
D. Perkins
J. Pickett
L. Prince
G. Owen
B. Rusk
F. Samples
J. Santino
J. Sellers
L. Shutt
P. Spivy
K. Stogsdill
J. Staral
E. Taylor
R. Tomas
S. Vaclav
J. Waters
E. Wider
B. Wesp

We couldn't have done it without your help! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

Oh - and don't worry, we do plan to take pictures before, during, and after the ride. What I'm anticipating is that we'll look happy and stoked at the beginning and then tired and beat toward the end. There might even be a picture of me passed out on the ground still clipped into my bike.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Adventures in San Francisco

I know you recognize that national landmark. No, we did not buy that picture. And yes, Husband took it - with our digital camera. If only pictures of food could turn out as well....

I'm sure you have been wondering where I've been and how come I haven't posted anything about cakes. For a while there I was doing about two or three cakes a week. Which was AWESOME. However, making that many cakes, working 9 hours a day, and trying to fit MS bike ride trainings was getting a bit stressful. So Husband whisked me off to San Francisco - and how happy I am that he did.

I fell in the love with the place. I decided that if it wasn't cold and windy - I could live there. But I hear that if you want San Francisco, then you have to accept the cold and wind, so I suppose I won't be living there any time soon.

We went on an adventurous bike ride from about Pier 39-ish, over to the Golden Bridge (didn't cross...yet), down along the bay to Golden Gate Park, through Golden Gate Park, up a STEEP hill, took a short cut back to the Golden Gate Bridge, rode across said bridge, and down the hill into Sausalito because that's the kind of crazy thing us kids like to do with our time on vacation. We estimated it was a 30 mile bike ride. My legs were twitching when I got off the bike in Sausalito (we went to have a late, light lunch) and I declared that I could not pedal that 60 pound (or at least that's how heavy it felt) bike up another hill. So we took the Ferry back to San Francisco. I will say this with much shame: San Francisco got the best of me.

And yes, we did all the stuff that tourist's LOVE to do: Ghirardelli Square, Lombard St (which was pretty, but I think a little overrated), the seals at Pier 39 (I want one!), Alcatraz, saw the redwood trees (breaktaking), Trolley Car rides, China Town, and of course took a ba-gillion pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge. I also ate this cupcake:

Yum. I ate all kinds of stuff. By the fourth day I wasn't hungry anymore, but I was still eating because I didn't know when I would be in San Francisco to eat again! But you can rejoice! Because I'm back, and it looks like there will be plenty of cakes coming (very) soon.