Wednesday, October 17, 2007

10 Lessons Learned/Surprise Birthday Cake

A friend was giving his wife a surprise birthday party and I offered to make her a cake. Her favorite color is pink and I thought roses would be a nice touch. I got the idea of the ganache over pink icing on, and wanted to try a different method of fondant roses. The method is based on roses that Duff, a famous cake baker and decorator, uses on his cakes. I didn't know who he was until Saturday, but apparently is pretty big on cable TV, (which we don't have, so I haven't ever seen him or his show).

In making this particular cake I learned a few things.

Lesson number one, never offer to make a cake for someone, then wait until the very day you need the cake to be ready. Lesson number two, read the ingredient list very carefully, even if you have done the recipe several times already. Despite leaving out the sugar, it actually didn't taste bad at all. (I used the White Almond Sour Cream Cake recipe.) I just added another box mix (mixed correctly this time), thus adding to each tier of the cake, three thin layers. Oh, yeah, back to lesson one, as I mentioned in number 1, don't wait until the day you need the cake, because when you can't find your baking strips, you will be cutting off a lot off the top because your cake layers make a very nice curved dome.

Lesson number 4, check to make sure you have all the necessary ingredients for the frosting as well. A frosting with more butter flavored shortening and butter flavoring, than actual butter, still tastes like there is a lot of shortening in the frosting. Lesson number 5...remember what your instructor said about whipping the frosting too long. No matter how much you try to smooth the frostings, the air bubbles won't disappear. Lesson number 5, the idea of using the hair dryer really does help make the ganache drip if you don't get it to drip over the sides of the cake the first time. Thanks to the advice of someone on's forums.

Lesson number 6, Wait for the ganache to harden before you put the fondant roses on top, need I say more. Lesson number 7, practice the border before attempting to put it on the cake, even if you have done a dozen times before. There is a reason for that saying practice makes perfect. Lesson number 8 check your decorator bags for holes before trying to pipe the leaves on, which leads to lesson number 9, know where the extra decorator bags are before you have hole in one of them you are using. This will save you a lot of time in finishing up the cake.

I did manage to get the cake finished with about 30 minutes to spare. I put it in the car (under the umbrella), to the church, and on display in one piece.

And finally, lesson Number 10, just say thank you when someone compliments you and don't tell them everything that is wrong with it!

White Almond Sour Cream Cake, with Butter Cream Frosting, Ganache Topping, and Fondant Roses, made in the the style of Duff's.

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