Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My first attempt at acing a cake

My grandfather was a baker, so I grew up knowing all sorts of weird things. I learned how to get nice, flat breakfast bread, how to put raisins in lucia buns and I learned that you should always use an old sheet underneath the cutouts for gingerbread cookies.

Lately, I've been fascinated by cakes. It stems from watching two episodes each Thursday of "Ace of Cakes" on the Food Network (right after "CSI" is over on CBS). The show follows a team of cake designers i Baltimore, Maryland, who make these fantasticly beautiful showpieces in a short amount of time. As they interview each person on the show, colorful cakes present the backdrop.

I decided I need to make a cake like that.

First of all, cakes are ridiculously expensive here. People probably pay about $1,000 for their wedding cake just to make it look right. If I can do a nice cake, perhaps I can one day help a friend out, I thought. Perhaps even make a nice cake for myself.

Today I rushed to Wal-Mart to buy two cake pans (bought 2 from the kitchen section for $3/pair instead of $6 each in the cake-making section!), and some cake-making necessities.

I refused to buy the buttercream frosting mix, since I my intent was to make a real cake - marzipan, heavy cream, light pound cake batter and some strawberry jam. Well, I ran out of inspiration quickly. I ended up getting "fondant" - pure sugar mixed together to be workable. This is eventually what I covered the cake with - following the instructions on the box, I also managed to make a ribbon.

Whipped cream was replaced with Coolwhip - a nondairy product that's creamy. I also picked up some gum paste, because the bag promised I could make elegant flowers with it. Well, the bag was wrong. I couldn't make squat with it, and I will never use that gooey sticky stuff again.

I wasn't able to find any potatomeal, so I ended up getting some corn starch instead, having read somewhere that they might be similar. I was wrong. My grandmother told me I should have just substituted regular flour instead of the potatomeal. Oh well.

Another thing I learned is that seasoned bread crumbs might not make the best cake crust. After the cake pieces were baked, I had to cut off some layers of Italian herbs, but I still can't guarantee the cake with have a slight herby flavor...

Oh, well. The result is what you see above. I'll try something nicer next time!

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