I think I’m mellowing. Mr Fussy may disagree. But I’m not all up in arms over the bits that didn’t go my way with the cake I made for Mother’s day.
We’ll get to that.
More important, here in New Zealand it’s Mother’s Day. I had 3 mothers in the house, Mum, my sister and my Mother-in-law. And I didn’t forget about my younger sister too. I even make a special cookie just for her. She was in my mind even though she lives in Wellington and couldn’t be here for afternoon tea.
So happy Mother’s Day to all the Mums celebrating their special day today.
And for those of us not Mums, whether it be by choice or not, hope you’ve had a great day too!
Back to the cake. I made it the other week and froze it. I made it from a box mix (!) where I added sour cream to it. There’s a couple of reasons I chose to make the cake with a box mix. I had box mixes to use ;-) I wanted to freeze the cakes and I knew I would have the cake out for 3-4 days before it was going to be eaten. Those box mixes with sour cream added really last the distance, and they still taste really good.
This time I made the cake with all egg whites. This really does make a big difference in getting a very white cake. It was a lovely light cake and was still moist and flavoursome. And surprisingly, the syrup in the Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC) which had separated when I thawed it and re-whipped it fully incorporated and didn’t separate as the cake sat. I’ve thought the separation of the syrup is what causes my perfectly baked cakes to end up a bit soggy in the past. So now I’m a little confused, because that didn’t happen, yet it happened for my ANZAC cake, and this was the very same SMBC, the only difference is this was frozen AND I added Limoncello (which you couldn’t taste), and as I say the syrup separated as it thawed and I began to remix it. I’m confused.
I had made LMF fondant during the week. It was simple to make and easy and I thought all was going well until I rolled it out and lay it over the cake. It immediately tore at the edge. And this cake is not a double-barrel cake (twice the height of a normal cake) where that sort of thing is almost expected. So Friday night I had to get the trust Bakels fondant out, which is white, and knead a little of the LMF into it, to try and get a bit of a lavender colour, and use this. It really didn’t turn out very lavender in the light of day so I knew I would have to air brush the colour.
My original plan was to have the fondant lavender so I could just air brush pearl over it and the cake lace. In the end because the cake ended up 4” I used different cake lace than I had intended. The piece I wanted to use I ended up only having one strip off and I needed almost 2 strips to go around the cake. So I used the larger piece of cake lace. And believe it or not, these piece of cake lace are the very same I made when I blogged about Clair Bowman’s Cake Lace some 3 months ago! And it was still so supple.
Anyway, cake lace is applied to the cake by using a moistened brush and brushing the side of the cake. Well that was going to be problematic given the colour of the cake came from being airbrushed. So I sat there and wondered. First I cut a bit off one of the strips (as you’ll see, I shouldn’t have cut quite so much!) and used my spray bottle to see how it would hold up with I sprayed the cake lace instead of the cake. All looked good. It wasn’t dissolving. My problem was that I had a very supple piece of cake lace and with it wet how was I really going to line it up and press it against the cake? Back to the drawing board. What I ended up doing was spraying the cake. First I sprayed the cake face on and ended up wetting it too much. That too much wetness ended up as droplets on the cake. And you guessed it. I put my big fat fingers in it smudging it. Boo.
Instead I sprayed the cake side on and sprayed as I turned the cake (on a turn table). That seemed to work well enough. Now it was just the trick of still lining the cake lace up against the bottom of the cake and sort of folding it up onto the sides. It mostly went on without a hitch. I still had to wait and make sure that I hadn’t over-sprayed the cake and the cake lace was going to dissolve. Thankfully that didn’t happen, although a very small bit of it almost did.
Over ANZAC weekend I made a number of roses. I only had pink and white gumpaste with me and I wanted lavender roses. You’d have thought that I’d have added some blue or violet to it and just made it lavender. But no, not me. I wasn’t thinking that at the time. I’ve spent days dusting different roses trying to make pink lavender and never liking the end result. In a way I was relieved after putting the cake onto the cake board to realise that it needed nothing more, and in fact adding more would make it too busy. That old saying less is more rang true in this scenario. So although I had dusted all the roses I didn’t use any at all. Nor did I use any of the other little fondant/gumpaste buds I made (more for making Vintage styled cupcakes). And I almost didn’t use any of the ribbon roses I made, or the other little roses with added silver cachous, but I managed to work those into some cookies in the end.
Last weekend I had taken some cookies out of the freezer to decorate. What I didn’t consider is that as the cookies sat defrosting (still wrapped) they would stick to the wrapping. So when I eventually got around to unwrapping the cookies the royal icing had stuck and obviously pulled away as I removed the wrapping. Undeterred I carried on. Even if they couldn’t be salvaged it was still a good experience (and lesson!) to try something new. I made an Iris for Mum, bunch of Lavender for my MIL and Tulips for Natalie. I didn’t know what flower she might like but the Tulips were fairly simple in construction, even though I ended up making the main one look like a pineapple top.
Last night I decided that I’d pull out some more undecorated cookies and flood them using the new pastry bags that had arrived during the week (bought off eBay, and delivered free – takes an age but they eventually arrived). Using the bags is called tipless piping. There’s been a huge interest on certain Facebook pages and when the discussion first began I ordered the bags too, though I had to order from a different seller because I had to find someone who would ship to NZ. I had decided that if I didn’t like the feel, or the bags didn’t cut it, then I would still use them instead of making a capsule for the royal icing. And I can tell you that they are so much easier to prepare than gladwrap. So much calendar to dispose of, and yes, they do work. My lettering wasn’t quite as tubular as others say they get, but I think part of that is my royal icing was quite stiff so it wouldn’t settle as such, but I was trying to make sure that what I piped stayed put. I had tried last week with a normal piping tip and the black spread too much and I didn’t like the end result. I still have a bit to learn about the right consistency for piping letters.
Lastly I made the same chocolate cake I’ve made before using Rosie’s (of Sweetapolita) recipe, and I used a 500gm container for Maraschino cherries reserving 12 cheeries for the top and using the rest to make a cherry filling. Unfortunately I was so busy trying to get every last bit of cornflour/cherry juice mix from the jug that I forgot to stir what had already been poured into the pot and some of it congealed. It took a while to pick those bits out, and I didn’t get quite all of it.
I used the left over ganache (it was also left over from Jasmine and Sam’s engagement cake, used on the Mother’s Day cake, and then the remainder had a good squeeze of light corn syrup added to ensure it didn’t set hard) and whipped it up so that I could use it to pipe a dam to hold the cherry filling, and also pipe a swirl on top to secure the cherry.
I did serve some savoury items. I cheated and bought a focaccia bread that needed to be finished off in the oven, and made my usual cheesy puff mini muffins (which stuck to the tin – despite it being non-stick and being sprayed with oil).
So there we have it. Overall I think it all turned out very nicely. Lots learnt but I’m no longer up tight when it doesn’t turn out perfectly. My family knows that I put my heart and soul into what I do and sometimes no matter how much planning and time you have, you can still be thrown a few curve balls. Practice means I’ll be better equipped to deal with those. Then when I know better and I don’t end up rescuing something, then I can be peeved off :)
This coming week I have a trip (for work) to Melbourne and I’m making the most of it by sticking around the weekend. I’m looking forward to spending some time catching up with Cate and Brett, and their new pup Zed, and maybe I’ll come back with a Kopykake tucked under my arm (and a few pairs of winter shoes!). I guess what I’m saying is there’ll be no baking in the upcoming week to post next weekend. I’m leaving during the day Tuesday. My MIL is house sitting for her SIL which leaves Mr Fussy at home alone with the cats. He’s very much looking forward to having the house to himself and enjoying a few days being a bachelor. It’s been a very long time since he’s been able to play that role with my MIL now living with us. I’m not sure what will be cooked in the kitchen this coming week, but it wont be anything you’d want to see pictures of :D