Monday, March 1, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

You may remember that I took a cake decorating class a little while back. The sole purpose of this class was to learn how to make cute cakes for my children's birthday parties.

Sadly, I must report that one class was not enough, because my most recent cakes so did not turn out as I expected. Then again, maybe the problem is that the creative genius in my head far outpaces what my hands can actually create. I have grand visions of how I think my cake might turnout, and it comes out mediocre at best. Oh well, at least my little girl liked her birthday cakes.

The Good
First, I made a cake for my sister's birthday. This one actually turned out quite well, if I do say so myself. She requested Better-Than-Whatever-Cake. (Yes, this cake has other names.) I myself call it Skor Cake since I don't think it even tastes all that great. Chocolate. Love it! Caramel. Love it! There must just be something about the caramel. It tastes like can, and I just can't get past that.

Since I had instructions to make this cake, I figured I might as well play with it a bit. Instead of a boring old 9x13 flat cake, I baked it in two 8-inch round pans. (Thanks, Audrey, for the inspiration on that one.)

I mixed the sweetened condensed milk and caramel like the recipe instructed, but I halved the milk, hoping it would taste less like can. I also let the caramel sit with the cake overnight, still in the cake pans.

When it came to get the cake out, it was a cinch since I used parchment paper to line the bottom of the pans. So, I had two perfectly round, rich, and caramel-soaked layers. That wasn't enough. I cut each layer in two, width-wise, making four total layers. The inside layers of the cake were put together with a whipped chocolate ganache, and then the whole cake was covered with whipped topping.

I only put the crushed Skor bars on the sides of the cake for visual effect, and then I used some melted chocolate chips and butter to write the words on the cake.

The Bad
For my daughter's birthday, I knew one cake wouldn't be enough. Chocolate was of course the answer, and I can usually turn out a pretty good cake. Too bad it was dry! I don't even know what happened. I tried to salvage it with lots of ganache, but even that turned out a little off. I was left with a slightly misshapen, dry, unexciting cake.

As a last ditch effort, I used the white chocolate to make it look like a spider's web. At least the focus shifted to the spider and not the actual cake.

Don't worry, I still helped myself to this bad cake.

The Ugly
This cake was supposed to be the big deal--the themed cake for the party. Somehow, I hoped it would turn out better.

First off, I tried to color the fondant using food coloring. I was going for brown, but what I got was peach. I knew it would be tricky to get the color just right, but I didn't want to buy the actual brown color. (Hello. If I want something to look brown, I'll just use chocolate, thank you very much.)

So, I ended up with the peach fondant, but luckily it was mostly covered by the crushed graham cracker crumbs. I had trouble getting it to stick to the fondant, even though I brushed the whole cake with sticky sugar water. The first layer of crumbs looked great, but I tried to add another layer. Not great.

Finally, after being a bit discouraged about how it turned out. I let it sit overnight without getting a picture of it. The next morning, I came down to find that my daughter had already been downstairs and left her mark on the cake--a series of finger poke holes in the side. Gah! It was already ugly enough.

Surprisingly, a lot of people liked this cake. The inside was a funfetti cake with rainbow chip frosting (a yummy alternative to chocolate). I thought everyone would just peel off the fondant layer with the crumbs in it, but I think most people ate it. (Yes, it is edible. The fondant is just marshmallows.) I guess it must have been a good flavor combination.

In summary, I have a lot more learning to do. Maybe I'll get it down by the time the kids are grown. At least it always turns out better than store-bought cake (unless we're talking about Costco's American Chocolate Cake.)


alanna said...

I love your cake adventures! And I always love it when you post here.

I do have a recipe for, what I believe is, the best chocolate cake on the planet. I'm always a little hesitant to share it though because it has espresso in it. Is that bad? It's not much...but it makes all the difference in the world!

Cookie Dough said...

I'd love your chocolate cake recipe!

Kel said...

ooohh. I've never seen a better than "whatever" cake done in rounds and freestanding.

good work lady!

Michelle M said...

I think all your cakes look amazing, but cake-decorating is NOT a skill I possess. And I think the Ant Hill turned out cool, as well as the spiderweb.

Robnz Fam said...

I just left a comment, and I have no idea if it showed up or not!

So, I think that all those cakes are 'The Good'. AND, I totally wish I had your talent in cake making, among a ton of other things!