Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Castle Fit For A Princess

Today is the day! The day that I need to finish two birthday cakes that will get delivered tomorrow afternoon. Okay, correction, today is the day that I need to START two birthday cakes that will get delivered tomorrow afternoon. Excuse me for a minute while I brag about myself: I am the perfect procrastinator. I NEVER start anything before the last possible minute: 10 page essays for college - I start them the day they are due. Putting up my Thanksgiving/Fall decorations - I did it the night before we hosted our dinner. Cleaning out the downstairs room so my mom could move in - I did the morning she moved. Huge cake orders - I start them the day before delivery.

I realize it might sound silly to some that I don't start cake orders until the day before they need to be delivered. I mean, when else should I start them? From a cake decorator perspective, I would prefer to bake my cakes two days before they need to be delivered. This allows them time to cool and gives me a day to decorate. Why two days?... It doesn't really take that long for cakes to cool. Here's why: I have two cakes to deliver tomorrow, the princess castle and the Dora cake. These two complete cakes took a total of 7 cakes. Two cakes for the Dora one and five for the castle. (Plus two batches of rice crispy treats) And unfortunately, I don't have a commercial oven. It's just a normal oven that you cook your dinner in. 7 one day.

Now, to get some work done.....




5 hours after I started writing this post, I have completed 1 cake. I'm on a roll! But really, the second cake is pretty simple so I shouldn't be up until 3 a.m. like I normally am when I procrastinate.

Originally I had planned on using ice cream cones to make the cake towers easier to complete. Stack them up, fill any uneven spots with some royal icing and then wrap a piece of fondant around it. Easier is not the word I would use. This is what we wound up with:

Not very pretty! For some reason, the fondant and royal icing did not want to stick together. It kept sliding around. Not to mention, to use the sugar cones for the roofs, this was a little thick :-(

So, I let me assistant play around a little bit (but in the back of my mind, I knew what I wanted to do).

Do you see that lovely royal icing on my table? Here's a closer look:

If you've ever worked with royal icing, you know that it dries pretty fast. And it dries rock hard. It only took me 30 minutes to clean this up and toss the ice cream cones in the trash.

Finally, we tried my idea. When I was first asked to do this cake I knew this was the method I wanted to try. Why didn't we try it first? Because my assistant is learning. She wants to decorate cakes (but not professionally). I am a hands on learner. I don't mind telling people how to do things but I believe you learn best if you go through trial and errors. If I tell you to use method A you aren't going to know that it's easier (even though it sounds harder) unless you try method B...and C...and D.

Method A:

Rice Crispy Treats!! We made a pan of treats and refrigerated them to harden them up a little faster (after all, I'm on a time limit here!). I know it probably doesn't sound like it would be harder BUT after they hardened in the fridge I had to use a cookie cutter to cut 2" circles...20 2" circles...20 2" circles from rock hard rice crispy treats.
Then I stacked them, covered them with a thin layer of royal icing, and covered it with fondant. It doesn't sound to different from her original idea but for some reason, this worked and hers didn't.

Once the towers were made, I needed to stack the cakes. Then I took my cookie cutter and cut a chunk out of cake so that the tower wouldn't appear to be separate from the castle.

Then I dirty iced:

And finally, I was able to assemble the cake! Here is my "blank canvass".
And finally, after hours of cake decorating:
Okay, it really didn't take hours. At the most 30 minutes and that's just because I had to color my icing. Tonight, after all my munchkins go to bed, I'll make a banner to hang between the towers that says "Happy Birthday".

So there it is...maybe not as nice of a cake as you'd be able to buy from the baker downtown but I'm still learning and perfecting my trade. Now let's just hope that it survives the car ride tomorrow!

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